10,000 Specks of Light: Can Microgrants Promote Volunteerism and NGO Development in Urban China?
Despite rapid and drastic economic transformation in contemporary China, civil society remains largely weak. The echoes of totalitarian Communism and present-day authoritarianism have undermined the development of strong civil associations. My main research question is whether microgrants can be used in China to promote volunteerism and non-governmental organization development in urban areas. That is, can grants of $50-$500 encourage greater volunteer activity and help form non-governmental organizations? Like wildly successful microlending programs, a microgrant program has the theoretical potential to unleash a large amount of human energy with a small amount of capital. I hypothesize that if an effective advertising and distribution method can be worked out, microgrants can fulfill their theoretical potential. My research will consists of interviews and case studies. I am securing interviews with the leading foreigners involved in civil society promotion in China, as well as Chinese with insight into this issue. I also plan to fund four to five microgrant targets as case studies, to track them and determine what challenges a microgrant program must overcome to be effective. The planned output of my research is three-part: a paper discussing the challenges and opportunities for a microgrant program in China, a detailed policy proposal for the implementation of a microgrant program, and a paper presenting descriptive data on Chinese urban volunteerism and small-scale NGOs.
van der Mersch, Stephan, " 10,000 Specks of Light: Can Microgrants Promote Volunteerism and NGO Development in Urban China?" (2005). URC Student Scholarship.
The Paul K. & Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trusts - International Fellowship