Surge of direct giving in China to avoid corruption
A Chinese website is circumventing traditional routes to giving and encouraging its mostly young audience to give directly to the survivors of the earthquake in the Sichuan province, and avoid the corruption present in official charitable giving.
Bullog, one of the coolest blogs in the country publishes a list of relief efforts paid for from donations, which have exceeded Rmb1m ($144,000, €91,000, £73,000) reports the Financial Times.
It has become the charity of choice for the many young Chinese who want to donate to help the victims but want to avoid going through the government; internet traffic has been so heavy the site has crashed regularly.
The site was founded by Luo Yonghao, a former English teacher, who has spent the past week in the region coordinating activities. Bullog paid for two trucks bringing tarpaulins to the disaster site and five trucks full of rice, edible oil, sanitary towels and mosquito repellent.
According to the Chinese government donations had reached $1.8bn earlier this week, mostly to official charities.
Private charities such as Bullog appear to be a product of widespread skepticism about how the government will distribute donations and are encouraging citizens concerned about corruption amongst local officials to push for a higher degree of accountability in the way money is spent.
Aware of potential political backlash if the relief effort were tarred by corruption, the State Council has announced that any officials caught misappropriating earthquake funds would receive severe punishments.
China has thousands of NGOs, which are required to have a government institution as a partner, so the private charities’ status is ambiguous. Yet their appearance is putting pressure on China's official charities to be more transparent about their operations and spending, with official charities such as the Red Cross Society of China, announcing it will soon publish a list detailing how it is spending money in Sichuan.