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Red Cross hopes to heal its reputation (4)

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

13:51, May 16, 2012

Beijing residents donate money at a Red Cross stand in Xidan for people in Yushu, Qinghai province, three days after the area was hit by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake on April 14, 2010. Sang Quanli / Xinhua

Foreign trips

According to the China Red Cross' 2011 financial report, at least 58 international trips were made during the course of the year, about one per week, a fact that immediately sparked accusations about the misuse of funds.

Hu Xingdou, a professor of economics at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said the public reaction was understandable, but that the report would help provide greater financial transparency and improved organizational governance.

In addition, to restore its good name and highlight the society's humanitarian spirit, the China Red Cross is taking steps to rectify improper use of its brand.

In June, hospitals across the country will be examined on their use of the Red Cross brand as part of their name, said Zhao. Those that fail to meet the required criteria will not be allowed to use the name.

"Malpractice by hospitals seriously tarnishes the image of the Red Cross," she said, adding that the society will draft new rules on the use of its name by hospitals. Also, all partnerships with corporations will be reviewed.

"Those who just want to make money by using the Red Cross brand will be kicked out," she promised, but stressed the importance of cooperation with the business world.

"China's Red Cross should be an alliance of government, business and civil societies," she said.

According to Sauve, the Canadian Red Cross is very careful about brand management and maintains high ethical standards in fundraising.

Studies showed the role of the brand is of immense significance to a charity's popularity with the public. Does the Red Cross really do the best job in terms of disaster relief? Perhaps, but the brand's reputation provides an easy answer to the question "How can I help?" when disaster strikes suddenly, he explained.

In Canada, "we can hire companies to work for us (in various areas such as fundraising and project implementation) but they are not allowed to work on a commission basis", he said.

"We license the brand as well and enter into partnerships with corporations under certain criteria, such as the rule that we don't associate with companies that manufacture or deal in armaments and things of that nature," he noted, but conceded that management of the system is a challenge.

Back in China, Zhao said the China Red Cross will further strengthen the management and supervision of its local branches.

"Those caught indulging in irregular practices will be exposed and punished," she vowed. But given that the society is not in charge of local branch human resources, operating costs and payrolls, "it will take a great deal of effort and time", conceded Wang Rupeng.

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