ABSTRACT

In 2011, the director ofjoumalists at Phoenix Weekly, Fei Deng, along with some intellectual elites, used new media approaches to launch a charity program to provide free lunch for students in poor areas. The program aimed to use social donations to improve the diets and nutrition of children in poor areas. With the help of Web 2.0 media (particularly microblogs), traditional media, and television media, the program raised over ¥25 million in its first eight months and attracted over one million donors, of whom 80 percent were individuals from across the country. The program benefited 30,000 children from 110 schools in mountainous areas in thirteen provinces. Additionally, the program directly facilitated government actions. On October 26, 2011, the China State Council decided to initiate a nutrition improvement plan for rural students who were receiving compulsory education. In accordance with a standard contribution of¥3 per person per day, the Chinese central government would grant ¥16 billion annually to provide nutrition subsidies for these students. The benefit was designed to cover twenty-six million schoolchildren in 680 administrative areas. Professionals commented that the Free Lunch program successfully raised a large amount of donations, harnessed the power of the public, and made an unprecedented achievement. Some netizens also 180considered the program to be an example of reform for Chinese charities. The story that circulated online of Ruoqing Lu, a girl with leukemia, impressed many netizens and attracted a great deal of attention for leukemia patients. For instance, Manzi Xue, a famous contributor among a group of people referred to as the angel investors and founder of the Microblog Anti-Human Trafficking program, started the Leukemia Youth Assistance Action together with Ligang Zhang, president and CEO of iKang Group. Through social fund-raising activities, they gathered a team of medical specialists and volunteers for program implementation.