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Doing Good With Technology: A Q&A With Tencent Charity Foundation

Tencent Charity Foundation - Doing Good With Technology

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, lifestyles have evolved considerably and global capital markets are also attaching greater importance to sustainable investments. In response, technology companies are striking a balance between business objectives and social responsibilities through sustainability efforts.

To get insights on how technology companies conduct initiatives on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) and CSR (corporate social responsibility), PR Newswire interviewed Ge Yan, Secretary-General of the Tencent Charity Foundation. She discussed Tencent‘s ongoing sustainability investments, fine-tuning messaging for global audiences and how “no boundaries” communications is driving its Tech for Good initiatives.

Doing Good With Technology: A Q&A With Tencent Charity Foundation

Ge Yan is the Secretary-General of the Tencent Charity Foundation, Vice President of Tencent Cloud, President of Tencent Cultural Tourism and Assistant General Manager of the Corporate Social Responsibility Division. She joined Tencent in 2008 and took part in various business development initiatives. In 2013, Ms Ge was promoted to Assistant General Manager of the Regional Business Group and Assistant Editor-in-chief of, directly managing 13 of Tencent’s websites and three of Tencent’s key verticals: government affairs and community affairs, real estate and automobiles.

Tencent Charity Foundation, created by Tencent in September 2006 and registered with China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs in June 2007, is a national private foundation. It is the first charity foundation launched by a technology company in China. Tencent donated 20 million yuan (around US$ 3.1 million) as seed funding and has continued donating a percentage of its annual profits. Recently, Tencent announced that it will sponsor a public welfare investment initiative worth 50 billion yuan (around US$ 7.66 billion) to promote “sustainable social value innovation.”

Tencent's 99 Giving Day raised a total donation of RMB 3.044 Billion Yuan in 2020. (Photo: Tencent)
Tencent’s 99 Giving Day raised a total donation of RMB 3.044 Billion Yuan in 2020. (Photo: Tencent)

1. Share with us Tencent’s CSR and ESG programmes and communications challenges that are related to them.

Ge Yan: Everything that Tencent does is focused on our users and our corporate mission is “Value for Users, Tech for Good”. In line with this approach, we have been striving to fulfil our social responsibilities in all of our businesses. We are the first among our technology peers to launch a charitable organization. As part of this foundation’s philanthropic efforts, we continue to invest in digital technologies that provide support for basic scientific research, online charities, poverty alleviation in rural areas as well as environmental conservation and carbon reduction.

In terms of communications related to our social responsibility goals, Tencent is the first technology company in China to publish CSR reports. Since 2008, we have released these reports annually, disclosing ESG initiatives in a special section of our annual financial statement. In addition, we also leverage English and Chinese press releases and corporate newsroom updates to keep our stakeholders, including investors, informed on our Tech for Good initiatives.

One key challenge is to communicate how technology serves as an enabler in our CSR programs and why it matters to the communities we partner with. The Tencent Charity Platform is the largest of its kind and consolidates funds from millions of donors. However, as such platforms are relatively rare elsewhere in the world, we extend our product-driven approach to communications: to make these programs interesting, relatable and meaningful. For the 99 Giving Day last year, we highlighted the use of blockchain technology to enhance transparency in philanthropic drives and extended the campaign to Hong Kong.


2. On Tencent’s Tech for Good initiatives, what are some of its communication highlights in the past year?

Ge Yan: Our communications plan is aligned with current trends and key social issues, with an emphasis on how technology may enhance societal welfare in the post-COVID-19 context.

To cite an example, the launch ceremony of Tencent’s 99 Giving Day campaign in 2020 was held in a temporary hospital in Wuhan to be in tune with public sentiment. We subsequently launched a light show in collaboration with 1,000 buildings lining the banks of the rivers that flow through Wuhan. The campaign’s logo – a small red flower – was projected onto buildings, including the landmark Yellow Crane Tower. This “no boundaries” approach to technology adoption created a feast for the senses, drawing widespread attention both within China and abroad.

Our Foundation’s videos garnered a record 452,000 views during this campaign and attracted the attention of leading global media including the Financial Times, Business Insider, and Morningstar. This has helped our message reach a more diverse global audience.

The 99 Giving Day logo projected onto the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, China. (Photo: Tencent)
The 99 Giving Day logo projected onto the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, China. (Photo: Tencent)


In early 2021, we announced the launch of our ESG-related carbon neutrality program, using various technologies to help achieve zero carbon emissions. As part of an initiative to reduce energy consumption, the Tencent Cloud Data Center in Qingyuan, Guangdong Province, has been equipped with many rooftop solar panels, which generate clean energy.

This Data Center was launched in July 2020 with a capacity of over 1 million servers and is the first ultra-large data center established by Tencent Cloud. The PUE (the ratio of energy consumed by the data center relative to the energy consumed by the equipment) is below 1.25, which is the lowest in the region.

Tencent Cloud Data Center in Qingyuan, Guangdong Province
Tencent Cloud Data Center in Qingyuan, Guangdong Province (Photo: Tencent)

3. When planning Tech for Good communications within China and in the APAC region, what’re the differences in your communications approach?

Ge Yan: Across the APAC region, we face audiences with different cultures and levels of digitalization. In China, our campaigns may leverage cultural icons such as the Yellow Crane Tower. In addition, the power of technology is more readily understood due to China’s technology ecosystem.

For international communications, we highlight universal values that will appeal across cultures while answering the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the Tech for Good initiatives. For example, we highlighted that Tencent Music Entertainment organized an online concert, Learn to Love Yourself as a conclusion to 99 Giving Day last year. This concert tapped on technology to bring fans and musicians together and shares a powerful message of caring and healing amid COVID-19.

4. What do you think are the indicators to assess the impact of Tech for Good communications?

Ge Yan: We assess communications impact on three levels. First, reaching various stakeholders, including users, shareholders, government agencies, business partners, public interest organizations and local communities. Second, attracting additional peers, business partners and industry experts to engage and respond. Third, projecting the value of sustainable development and positively influencing our business strategies and practices. To achieve these objectives, we need a deep understanding of industry trends and the demographics of the target audiences to select the right story angles, while maintaining the consistency and frequency of our messaging to influence these audiences.


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This blog post is written by JX Tan, Head of Content at PR Newswire.