Tianjin Green Collar is a grassroots environmental NGO, founded in 2010 and later registered in 2014 as a social organization in China by a group of young people who graduated university with an interest in environmental protection. From 2010 to 2012, Tianjin Green Collar relied on the founders’ own money and started by taking people to the countryside for training on the environment. In 2015, needing to expand its office, staff and projects, it began to explore other funding sources, focusing first on crowdfunding and secondarily foreign funding. For crowdfunding, it uses the Tencent, Taobao and Alipay platforms to raise funds online for its projects. On Taobao, which is China’s version of Amazon, the NGO sells its products through Taobao’s charity store. For each item sold, Taobao donates 1-2% of the sales to the NGO. In 2017, Tianjin Green Collar started to receive foreign funding from the U.S. Embassy and Canada Fund, and in 2018, it secured a grant from the Asian Clean Air Alliance (Yazhou Qingjie Kongqi Lianmeng) based in the Philippines.
Theory of Change
Crowdfunding online can be an important channel for diversifying an organization’s revenue streams, as well as an effective communication tool for engaging online audiences about the government's responsibility to address environmental issues.
Banking on its understanding of national environmental policies and laws, Tianjin Green Collar monitors pollution in the Haihe River Basin which covers several provinces, using online tools such as Sina Yuyitong which collects online posts sent by local residents, and WeChat Map to take pictures of polluted areas. It chooses cases which have come to attention of both public and the local authorities and sends its staff to the affected area to record and take samples of the pollution. Tianjin Green Collar works with SGS, an environmental testing company, to help them test the water and air both before and after any government intervention to verify if the problem has been addressed. After the investigation is complete, a report is written with their findings from their investigation and posted to social media to stimulate a public response.
Tianjin Green Collar's advocacy and activities gain the attention of the local authorities, who contact the NGO and request a meeting to discuss how to address identified problems. Since 2017, Tianjin Green Collar has had more than 10 meetings with local authorities to address over 50 cases of environmental pollution. After the meetings, the local authorities generally send the NGO an official document (hongtou wenjian) stating their plan for addressing the problem. The organization is able to show the results of their actions through before-and-after pictures of how the environmental problems were addressed.