Iron Roosters Beware

As China wakes up to corporate philanthropy,  the landmines for big multinationals seem to have gotten larger by an order of magnitude.  According to The New York Times, several non-Chinese corporations including Samsung, Nokia and Coca-Cola were dubbed “iron roosters” on the Internet for allegedly being stingy with donations in the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.  A difficult tax code, and several tiers of non-profits make philanthropic decision-making in China exceedingly difficult.  Coupled with the sheer scale of the “opportunity,” as the Chinese government might put it, foreign companies need to develop long term strategic plans for evaluating both the scale and the nature of their giving in China.  No prizes for guessing that a strong dialogue with the Chinese authorities on this topic should be an important piece of the puzzle, lest your company end up as the “iron turkey.”

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