Charities bear the brunt of scandals

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2011, 12:00am

The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation is struggling to meet a 300 million yuan (HK$365.6 million) donation target for this year amid widespread distrust of charity projects following a recent spate of high-profile scandals implicating several leading mainland charitable organisations.

The foundation said yesterday it had received only 150 million yuan in donations by the end of last month.

It raised 550 million yuan last year, ranking third among mainland charities, after a huge response to calls for donations to aid victims of the massive drought that struck the southwestern regions in spring and the devastating 7.1-magnitude earthquake in Yushu, Qinghai province, in April.

Liu Wenkui, a deputy secretary-general of the foundation, blamed the public's snub on the Guo Meimei saga in June, which led to the exposure of rampant illicit deals involving charitable organisations, including some subsidiaries of the Red Cross Society of China.

Guo, a young singer and actress originally from Hunan province, set off a huge campaign targeting the Red Cross Society after she flouted her wealth online and claimed to be the head of a non-existent business arm of the society.

China Charity and Donation Information Centre statistics show that the charitable groups it monitors received 6.3 billion yuan in donations between March and May, but just 840 million yuan between June and August.

Liu said many of the foundation's charitable projects had been affected by the donation shortfall.

Ding Yadong, a public relations official with the foundation, said yesterday donations from institutions had declined noticeably because of the scandals.

'Donors are becoming very, very cautious,' Ding said. 'They are more selective in choosing which organisation they can trust.

'But it's not all bad because all the donors and charitable organisations have become more sensible and responsible in their involvement in charitable works.'

He refused to say whether the foundation would be able to meet its donation goal this year but said it would have to push for greater transparency to restore public trust.

70b yuan

The amount of donations, in yuan, estimated to have been collected on the mainland last year