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Better charity management

(China Daily) Updated: 2012-07-03 13:26

The total value of money and goods donated to charity in 2011 declined compared with the previous year. This highlights the need for a more transparent charity system and further cultivation of benevolence in the country.

The annual charity report, published by the charity information center under the Ministry of Civil Affairs on the weekend, shows that Chinese people donated 62.7 yuan ($9.90) each on average last year. Even though the growth in GDP was about 9.1 percent in 2011, donations dropped by 18.1 percent compared with 2010 to a total of 84.5 billion yuan.

The lack of serious natural disasters in 2011, such as the previous year's fatal earthquake in Yushu and the deadly mudslide in Zhouqu, was one of the major reasons for the drop in donations, as highly publicized one-off disasters tend to produce a surge of compassion. But a series of scandals involving charity organizations also damped people's enthusiasm to donate.

The Red Cross Society of China, for example, is struggling to regain public trust following last year's accusations of misuse of public funds. The organization received donations totaling 2.87 billion yuan in 2011, a decrease of 57.39 percent compared with 2010.

That 68 percent of donations went to non-government-operated charity organizations that are transparent and often better managed sends the message that these attributes are important to donors. Donors are concerned about where and how their money is being spent.

Campaigns launched on the Internet tend to attract a lot of attention as they regularly publish detailed information online about how the money raised has been spent for the needy. For example, a group of journalists launched a free lunch project for rural students online in April 2011, pointing out that a donation of just 3 yuan would provide a poor rural student with a free meal. The total money raised by the project amounted to more than 18 million yuan by the end of 2011.

The rise in welfare activities organized by non-governmental organizations in 2011 points to the healthy development of the country's charity sector. But donors' demands for transparency are adding to the pressure for a sound charity management system that will help plug the loopholes in government-related charity organizations.

In this sense, the drop in the total value of donations really counts to the nation.

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