Charity fundraising platforms must be transparent
SHUIDICHOU.COM, an online charity platform raising funds to assist poverty-stricken sick people, was recently found to have appealed for donations to provide medical help for a sick girl, who actually comes from a well-off family. Guangming Daily comments:
Shuidichou received more than 250,000 yuan ($36,578) in donations to help the girl. But it failed to verify whether the girl and her family were really unable to afford the cost of treatment. It turns out the family lied about not being able to pay the girl's medical bills as it runs a rice noodle restaurant in Nanning in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
People were angry as the family refused to return the donations at first, but they chose to let Shuidichou off the hook by ignoring the fact that the organization failed to ascertain whether the family was truly in need of assistance or not, and also make sure that the donated money was used for the purpose for which intended.
The "internet plus charity" mode has played an active role in promoting the development of the cause of civil philanthropy. According to the Shuidichou, it has raised more than 6.2 billion yuan to aid about half a million sick people over the past two years. But a growing challenge is that with the influx of donations and public attention, online charity platforms must be transparent in how the money they receive is spent, and guarantee that no charity donations fatten private pockets.
The case indicates even the largest company in the sector has not enough hands to verify whether the information provided by the applicants are true or not, leaving loopholes for people to take advantage of others' warmheartedness.
That the company has not responded to the public outcry over the incident in a timely manner also points up the urgency of improving its internal management and ability to deal with public relations issues. A charity platform must maintain good relations with the public.
The fast growth of Shuidichou over the past two years shows how big the market is, but not necessarily how mature its business model is and how capable its management is.
The case should serve as reminder to all online donation soliciting platforms to strengthen their management and ensure the transparency of their operations.