How can Red Cross Society of China regain public trust?

13:50, July 06, 2011      

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The recent Guo Meimei incident has brought the Red Cross Society of China under the spotlight. The statements and press conference by the Society did not help ease public doubt. Faced with an unprecedented trust crisis, will the society be able to prove its innocence? Will it regain public trust?

Finding out Guo's real identity is just a matter of time. What people are really concerned about is finding a way of establishing a fair, transparent and reliable charitable organization rather than a girl who likes to show off her wealth.

The society claimed that it had nothing to do with Guo, but the statement is not proof of its innocence. Due to growing distrust, netizens have dragged the past incidents involving the society back in spotlight, including the earthquake relief tents each worth over 10,000 yuan, a nearly 10,000-yuan dinner receipt issued to the society’s branch in Shanghai's Luwan district, and the society’s audit issues. The society managed to justify these incidents, but it remains shrouded in mystery, which is a major contributor to the widespread distrust.

The Guo Meimei event reflects that the management of China's charitable organizations has many loopholes. The Red Cross Society of China is the public charitable organization that receives the most donations in China. As the government funding is mainly for staff salaries and routine office expenses, the social assistance is mainly dependent on donations. This system of operation is the same as many countries worldwide. However, there is still a distance between the open and transparent degree of the operation of China's charitable organizations and the public expectations.

The Red Cross Society of China currently has more than 70,000 grassroots organizations. Does anyone use charitable organizations for profit? How to strengthen the supervision of grassroots organizations? This is a new topic of the Red Cross Society of China. According to sources, the purpose of the "management system of Chinese Red Cross donation information" under development is to create an open and transparent Internet platform to allow everyone to inquire about the flow of funds online. Therefore, people are able to find out where donations are used and what projects those donations are used in. This is an encouraging step of charitable organizations moving toward openness and transparency.

Philanthropy is a social welfare undertaking and donors are voluntary. Media and the public's concern for the Red Cross is a normal phenomenon. The Red Cross Society of China should continue to strengthen its transparency and credibility and sincerely cherish the public benevolence while widely accepting the supervision by public opinion. People expect that the Red Cross Society of China can turn crises into opportunities to promote substantive changes and regain public support and trust to promote the overall progress of Chinese philanthropy.

By Wang Junping, translated by People's Daily Online
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