Transparency of charities fails public's needs

Updated: 2011-12-30 07:27

By He Dan and Cang Wei (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The transparency of charity organizations still leaves a lot to be desired, according to the results of a survey, conducted by a research institute affiliated to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The China Charity and Donation Information Center on Thursday released its reports conducted on the transparency of charity organizations since 2009.

The center also used four criteria, information completeness, accuracy, promptness and accessibility, to score charity organizations on their information disclosure.

The maximum score was 100. However, the 1,000 organizations surveyed scored 33 on average; only 8.2 percent scored more than 60.

"We have seen some progress in charity organizations' information disclosure, however, the progress has still not caught up with the public's expectations," said Liu Youping, deputy director of the center.

Due to a series of charity scandals in 2011, the public has displayed a greater interest in supervising charity groups' financial information, Liu added.

Transparency of charities fails public's needs 

About 64 percent of 1,053 netizens polled said they keep a close eye on the information charity organizations make public, a 10 percent rise on the figure last year, while less than 14 percent said they did not care.

But an overwhelming majority of respondents, 92 percent, said that the country's charity organizations fail to disclose vital information in terms of finance and internal management.

However, Ge Daoshun, an expert on social policy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said most charity organizations do a good job in disclosing financial information.

"But they need to improve their transparency in non-financial sections, such as the resumes of the board of directors, the progress of their charitable programs and the participation of volunteers."

Ge said that the public will only believe charities are effective and trustworthy when they know how they operate.

"Transparency is the foundation of charity organizations' credibility, without it, they cannot survive," said Ge.

Deng Guosheng, a professor from the school of public policy and management at Tsinghua University, said that transparency is necessary for charitable organizations, but it should not be the only measurement by which they are judged.

"The organizations' service quality, reasonable structure and nonprofit mission are also important," he said.

Xu Jianzhong, deputy director of the Ministry of Civil Affairs' social welfare and charity promotion department, said the government will speed up legislation to ensure that charity groups reveal their donation information regularly.

"Considering some charity organizations' limited capacity to publish their information in a professional way, the government will also provide more training for these organizations' staff," Xu said.

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