This research article examines new stakeholder businesses in Tongcheng and Huaining, two counties in Anhui province, China, as cases for a comparative analysis of the role of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in supporting education in China's rural areas. The research primarily utilises interviews with personnel from the local education bureau, rural schools and related corporations. The study suggests that CSR has promoted rural education in Tongcheng and Huaining through various channels, including foundations, local non-governmental organisations, government agencies and direct involvement. However, most CSR involvement is highly vulnerable, owing to the lack of institutionalisation and formalisation of CSR behaviour. Additionally, the inappropriate administrative practices of governments and the unreliable fund distribution channels are impediments to advancing CSR. The study demonstrates that CSR is a rapidly developing concept in China, with strong untapped potential to improve rural education if current obstacles can be removed.