Social donations in China hit 33.2 billion yuan (4.88 billion U.S. dollars) in 2009, up 3.5 percent year on year, "marking a new high in China's philanthropy development," said a blue book compiled by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a key government think-tank, on Tuesday.
The book, titled "Annual Report on China's Philanthropy," published by the Social Sciences Academic Press under the CASS, said, "Recent years have seen steady growth in China's charity work."
It said lottery sales nationwide totaled 132.38 billion yuan last year, 46.3 billion yuan of which was used for public welfare.
More diversified charity forms, such as equity donations and online donations, occurred, it said, adding private funds, in particular, had "increased by a great margin."
It said southern Guangdong Province, Beijing and southwestern Sichuan Province, were the top three Chinese regions in terms of the amount of donations received.
Booming Guangdong Province absorbed 2.165 billion yuan of donations last year, including a large amount given by overseas Chinese, the blue book said.
It said education, disaster relief and social services are the three areas attracting the most donations, with 3.7 billion yuan used for elementary, vocational and higher education, among other educational sectors, making up more than 41 precent of the total donations.
China's charity cause has seen rapid growth since 2008, as the country experienced earthquakes in southwestern Sichuan's Wenchuan and northwestern Qinghai's Yushu and a mudslide in northwestern Gansu's Zhouqu over the past two years.
The blue book said more Chinese donated money to help the victims of such disasters.
CASS statistics show that China's individual donations accounted for 54 percent of the total in 2008, surpassing corporate donations for the first time.
However, recent reports about China's rich hesitating to attend a billionaires' banquet, sponsored by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, sparked controversy on wealthy people's willingness to donate.
Prof. Wang Zhongwu of sociology at Shandong University in east China said, "Most Chinese do not want to let others know how rich they are, for fear of being blackmailed by illegal charity groups."
The blue book said problems hampering charity development in China included the lack of government support, a shortage of related laws and regulations and the absence of a sense of charity among the public.