China leukaemia foundation wins rare right to fundraise from general public

A leukaemia foundation established by an individual wins rare right on the mainland to directly appeal to the public for money

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 3:17am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 2:00pm

A foundation for leukaemia sufferers says it has become the first non-official charity in Beijing to win permission to raise money directly from the public.

The New Sunshine Charity Foundation said it had recently been granted the status, and held a fundraising event in the capital on Tuesday.

It is one of two operators of bone marrow banks on the mainland; the other, the Chinese Marrow Donor Programme, is run by the official China Red Cross Foundation.

"My dream has come true - our fund is now a real public welfare organisation for the people," said New Sunshine's founder, Liu Zhengchen, 35. "We can help many more leukaemia patients with timely assistance."

Private and public foundations must follow different rules as laid down by the Regulations of Foundation Management issued under former premier Wen Jiabao .

They ensure the central government can keep a tight rein on non-governmental organisations, said Professor Jia Xijin , who specialises in NGO studies at Tsinghua University.

Just recently have they been allowed to become "public foundations", a status that allows them to appeal directly to the public for money, Jia said.

Traditionally, only those tied to a government body are granted such permission. The One Foundation, started by movie star Jet Li in 2007, for example, began as an affiliate of the China Red Cross, and in order to become a public foundation had to reregister in 2010.

The New Sunshine Foundation is the first to make the transition without going through such a process.

Video: Beijing's first private turned public charity devotes to raising awareness of leukemia

The group was recognised by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs with its highest assessment in 2012. The bureau awarded New Sunshine its public foundation status on the basis of its high degree of transparency, sound finances and ability to carry out its services.

The founder, Liu, is himself a leukaemia survivor. He said that after becoming a public foundation, New Sunshine would no longer have to rely on private donations.

"We have opened our donation accounts to all public media - print, TV and websites. We can also stage charity events such as sales and performances," Liu said.

Funds started by individuals were rarely recognised as public ones, Jia said. She estimated that there were less than a dozen successful cases on the mainland.

"Most public funds are related to state departments. Public fundraising has always been a sensitive issue," she said.

"Allowing more public funds means more players in the market. The state might be cautious about to much competition," Jia said .

But Liu Zhengying, from China Development Brief, which reports on NGOs, said: "This is a single successful case, and won't likely be repeated by most NGOs in the near future."

According to the China Red Cross, half of the 30,000 to 40,000 new cases of leukaemia each year are children.

Many of them are from rural areas, and it they have health care coverage, it is only partial. New Sunshine has been looking for ways to cover most of their treatment costs.

As of last year, Liu's foundation had raised about 100 million yuan (HK$126 million) and covered treatment fees for 452 patients, while helping another 584 patients with bone-marrow matching.

Liu said his next goal was to raise 100 million yuan a year to help sufferers from impoverished families.



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