Red Cross sees no dip in donations despite scandals

Updated: 2011-12-08 07:22

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The total amount of public donations raised by the Red Cross Society of China this year was not that much different from that in previous years. Evidently, the Guo Meimei incident, which had put a big question mark on the country's most high-profile humanitarian organization in June, has not substantially reduced the amount received, although the number of individual donations might have been less than before.

The donations collected through the society and all of its local branches stood at nearly 4.2 billion yuan ($660 million) this year and so far about 3.95 billion has been spent, statistics released by the organization on Wednesday showed.

Wang Rupeng, secretary-general of the China Red Cross, told China Daily on Wednesday: "The Society's Beijing headquarters collected nearly 600 million yuan this year and hasn't seen an apparent decrease compared to the average in previous years."

In 2007, donations made by the headquarters were roughly 630 million yuan, according to a financial report on the society's official website.

In June, 20-year-old Guo Meimei, claiming to have close connections to the China Red Cross, bragged about her luxurious life on her micro blog. The incident ignited widespread public distrust and the organization was accused of donation abuse.

"Subsequent audits and investigations all showed that the society is unrelated to Guo, but the incident proved to be a lesson for us and caused an impact," said Zhao Baige, executive vice-president of the society.

For instance, private donations have become smaller this year, both in terms of the number of donors and the amounts donated, she said, adding that they were still analyzing detailed data on that.

The fact that the society still managed to raise funds comparable to previous years was because, as Wang puts it, "While the number of individual donors has gone down, donations by private enterprises have made up the difference to an extent."

"This kind of incident poses challenges as well as provide opportunities to us to become more mature," she said."We are working closely now toward greater transparency by establishing an electronic database and publicizing details about donations and how they are being utilized. We are also building capacities in program design and implementation and public relations."

Information released by the China Red Cross on Wednesday said that it had so far organized 58 trips abroad, about once a week.

Zhao Lizhen, head of the Red Cross Society of China Shenzhen branch, told China Daily that the unfortunate incident in June, somehow, have, in the long run, has worked out to their advantage.

This year, they have collected about 600 million yuan, no less than that raised in previous years, except the years with major disasters like the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake."In July, largely due to the impact of the Guo Meimei incident, public donations, particularly those made by individuals, has seen an apparent drop," she conceded.

To improve the situation, the organization actively initiated charity programs like supporting poor students in Guizhou province, and inviting the media to track and report the entire process.

"It turned out that people were still willing to donate as long as the program was well designed and executed appropriately and transparently," Zhao Lizhen said.