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Online fund-raising for charity ought to be covered by law

China Daily | Updated: 2016-02-29 08:08

AN ONLINE POST BY A COUPLE IN SHAOXING, East China's Zhejiang province, seeking to raise money for their 7-year-old daughter who suffers from leukemia, recently went viral and ended up collecting about 260,000 yuan ($39,000). Yet the wife was later found to own a Mercedes-Benz and a diamond ring worth over 10,000 yuan. To regulate online fund-raising activities and keep the fake ones at bay requires the legislative authorities to revise the charity law, says

Although the couple did confirm their daughter's illness and explained they needed to raise money for her treatment, it is understandable that some online donors have doubts about their need, because they may have more besides the expensive car and diamond ring.

Online campaigns soliciting donations have become a popular means for many in urgent need of help. However, the law stipulates that only social organizations and non-profit government organizations designed for public welfare are entitled to solicit donations from the public.

In other words, the random and spontaneous online campaigns normally launched by individuals, families, and volunteers to raise money, are not under the protection of the law. Worse still, the legitimacy of such fund-raising is always being challenged given the lack of authenticity and supervision, although many online good Samaritans are willing to offer money to what they believe to be a good cause.

To some extent, the Zhejiang couple, who attempted to solicit donations while being able to afford expensive goods, committed online fraud, which lacks specific legal supervision at present.

The popularity of such online fund-raising highlights the need to better encourage and manage charitable donations. On the one hand, governments at all levels are supposed to keep an open mind to online requests for donations; on the other hand, they should establish a legal and administrative framework to make sure all donations end up in genuinely needing hands.

Apart from expediting legislation to cover online fund-raising, all parties concerned, individuals or entities, should be required to register why they launch an online campaign. More, how the donations are collected and used must be made public for proper supervision.

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