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Decline in donations due to 'fewer disasters'

By Liu Sha (Global Times)

08:07, July 16, 2012

Charity donations collected in major Chinese cities last year declined compared with the year before, latest official data showed, with authorities attributing the drop to the fewer natural disasters over the year.

Charity revenue received in 264 cities dropped to around 21.2 billion yuan ($3.32 billion) from 24.2 billion yuan one year earlier, according to figures released Saturday by the China Charity and Donation Information Center (CCDIC) under the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The city charity income includes donations received by local government agencies and social organizations, fees paid by financial departments to purchase related services and local welfare lottery funds, according to the charity center.

Officials at the center explained that the reason was similar to the decrease of the donations received nationwide, which was fewer disasters.

"Unlike 2008 and 2010 when the country was hit by major natural disasters such as the Wenchuan and Yushu earthquakes and people donated enthusiastically, fewer donations for disasters were collected in 2011, affecting the total amount," Peng Jianmei, director of the center, told the Global Times Sunday.

The explanation failed to quell the public, who believed that a series of scandals in China's philanthropy field last year should be blamed for the loss.

"Why not blame Guo Meimei? Is it so hard to face the reality and attribute everything to natural disasters?" Zheng Zongsheng, a Web user in Chengdu, Sichuan Province wrote in his Sina Weibo.

Guo Meimei, a young woman who claimed to be a manager of an organization related to the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), prompted speculation that she had embezzled money to fund her extravagances after flaunting her lavish lifestyle online last year.

Peng said that only the RCSC was affected to some extent and other organizations were not hurt by the scandal.

Deng Guosheng, director of the Non-governmental Organization Research Center at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that he found during his research that donations by individuals dropped sharply last year.

"Many charity funds only have 10 to 20 percent private donations and that's related to the trust crisis the charity organizations are suffering as a result of the scandals," Deng said.

Wang Zhenyao, director of the China Philanthropy Research Institute at Beijing Normal University, said that it is hard to draw a conclusion for the reason for the drop, as the figures did not detail the composition of the donations or their sources.

The latest charity information just followed a similar report released on June 28, which said China received a total of 84.5 billion yuan of donations in 2011, dropping by about 18 percent compared with 2010.

Donations to the RCSC dropped more than 57 percent to 2.86 billion yuan, according to the report.

Liu Youping, a deputy director of the CCDIC, acknowledged the scandals did have a negative impact on people's enthusiasm for donating, adding that the slow growth of people's income due to the sluggish economic situation both nationally and internationally was one of the factors, reported, a business news portal.

Despite the income drop, the utilization ratio of the funds increased by 16 percentage points, the center said.

Vice Premier Hui Liangyu urged charitable organizations to improve their social credibility and professionalism on Thursday, saying the government should strengthen supervision to boost their transparency and development, according to the Xinhua News Agency.


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