August 27th, 2011 | China Daily Scandal spate deprives charities of donations
Charities have received less money from donations in recent months following a spate of scandals that have damaged their credibility.
Rather than go through such organizations, more and more donors are instead trying to give money directly to people in need.
Song Zonghe, head of the China Charity and Donation Information Center’s information office, said charity groups got 840 million yuan ($131.5 million) in donations from June to August. That amount was down 86.6 percent from the 6.26 billion yuan they had received in March and May.
Much of what had been going to charities may instead be going directly to the needy now. From June to August, 127 million yuan was given directly to individuals, far more than the 38.87 million yuan that went straight to them in March and May.
Song said the recent scandals have undermined the public’s trust in charities.
The troubles began in June with a scandal involving a woman named Guo Meimei. Guo claimed online to have a strong connection to the Red Cross Society of China and bragged about her lavish life. Her words raised concerns about possible abuses of donations given to charities.
Another scandal came this past week when reports came out saying Lu Xingyu, the 24-year-old daughter of a prominent philanthropist, had been charged with supervising the China-Africa Project Hope, which is meant to establish 1,000 primary schools in Africa at a cost of at least 1.5 billion yuan over 10 years. Many in the public began to question why someone with little experience would be given so much responsibility.
Liu Xuanguo, secretary-general of the Chinese Red Cross Foundation, said charities’ loss of credibility has particularly harmed certain donation funds that were set up to fight specific diseases. The Little Angel Fund, which helps children who have leukemia, received only 7,000 yuan from Aug 1 to Aug 19. In the rest of the year, it had got at least 100,000 yuan a month.
The loss of donations will make the charity’s work more difficult at a time when at least 2,000 children with leukemia are seeking its help, Liu said.
Xu Jianzhong, deputy director of the Ministry of Civil Affairs’ social welfare and charity promotion department, said he thinks the public is giving less as a result of the recent charity scandals.
Xu said the ministry is drafting two documents that are meant to make charities more transparent.
Not all such organizations, meanwhile, have been equally harmed. Angelmom, a foundation that helps disadvantaged children receive medical treatments, has been largely unaffected, perhaps because it helps donors give money directly to a specific child, said Dong Fuguang, who is with the organization.
Qiu Lili, a team leader from Angelmom, said charitable giving in China will have regressed to a more primitive state if donors continue giving assistance directly to the needy rather than through charities.
“Well-established charity groups are more experienced in efficiently managing donations,” Qiu said.
By Li Yao