Yao looks to PwC for charity credibility

Updated: 2013-06-20 02:01

By WANG ZHENGHUA in Shanghai (China Daily)

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The Yao Foundation, established by former NBA star Yao Ming, is aiming to enlist the help of auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers as the public calls for greater transparency in the charity sector.

After a ceremony to announce a partnership with hotel company Marriott International on Wednesday, Yao said some PwC employees were working as volunteers at the Yao Foundation, which is looking to recruit the world‘s largest accountancy and consulting group as a long-term partner.

“Transparency is what Chinese charities most need, and the authorities have realized the seriousness of the issue and are putting forward rules on management,“ Yao said.

“We have a very high demand on ourselves but we cannot fully rely on ourselves (for supervision). We must be responsible for the donors and society.“

The 33-year-old added that the partnership with PwC will stand his foundation‘s development in good stead.

The Yao Foundation, set up in 2008, has been accepting contributions under the auspices of the China Youth Development Fund.

Yao‘s remarks come after Jet Li‘s One Foundation gained a good reputation, partly because the latter hired one of the world‘s top accounting firms, Deloitte, as its auditor.

“Hiring a world-renowned auditor can help enhance the credibility of a charity among the public,“ said Wang Zhenyao, director of the China Philanthropy Research Institute. “We should applaud the Yao Foundation for its intention to cooperate with PwC.“

Meanwhile, Yao also said he is supportive of a proposal for the Red Cross Society of China to reinvestigate the Guo Meimei controversy that damaged the charity‘s credibility two years ago.

The China Red Cross has been battling public mistrust after the young woman claimed to be the chief of an organization with links to the society, and posted photographs online flaunting her wealth in 2011.

“The incident has become a reminder to everyone,“ Yao said, adding that charity work can hardly move forward if that anxiety is not removed.

During Wednesday‘s ceremony, Marriott International announced a three-year agreement with the Yao Foundation to support educational programs for children in rural China.

Marriott International will donate 5 million yuan ($816,000) to the foundation to establish three Project Hope schools in southwestern China. The donation will also be used to support the Yao Foundation Hope Primary School basketball season program in 2014 and 2015.

Simon Cooper, president and managing director of Marriott International Asia, said: “Yao Ming is renowned for his tremendous support for rural communities in the country and he understands the value his influence can bring to society.“