Chest fears tsunami generosity will dent its fund-raising

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 January, 2005, 12:00am

The Community Chest might receive fewer donations this year, with many Hongkongers digging deep into their pockets to help the tsunami victims, the chairman of the charity said yesterday.

But John Chan Cho-chak said his organisation would not adjust donation amounts pledged to its member agencies.

Mr Chan said the Community Chest had aimed to raise $154 million in the 2004 financial year, but there was already a shortfall of $5 million.

He believed the decrease in donations was due to fund-raising activities for the victims of the Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami diverting cash to other charities.

'The tsunami is an unfortunate incident for everybody,' he said. 'I'm very proud of Hong Kong people's quick reaction to the tsunami. But unavoidably it lessens the usual donations to other charity organisations.'

He stressed that the drop in donations would not affect the organisation's support of its member agencies because the Chest had a $100 million reserve.

But one of its member agencies, Harmony House, which works against domestic violence, said its Community Chest funding would be cut from $700,000 to $663,000 in the next financial year.

Margaret Wong Fung-yee, executive director of the organisation, said its funding had been cut in the past few years. 'Compared with 2002, the funding has dropped 10 per cent,' she said.

The funding cut - from both the Community Chest and the government - would affect the services the organisation was able to provide, she said.

'We want to provide psychological assessment for the children in our shelter house. Now, with only about $660,000, we need to rethink that,' Ms Wong said. Harmony House would also have to cancel plans to help ethnic minorities because of a lack of money.

But another member agency of the Community Chest, the Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong, said its share of funding had not been affected and the organisation was not worried about the finances of the Community Chest.

The Samaritan Befrienders is run by volunteers.