Wed, Mar 30, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Charity groups join forces to promote transparency

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Non-profit charitable organizations are banding together to promote financial transparency among themselves.

Some 30 public welfare organizations, including the Garden of Hope, United Way, the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China and the Children Are Us Foundation, yesterday paved the way for the formation of a body known as the Self-Discipline Alliance of Taiwan's Public Welfare Groups.

"Every cent that a public welfare organization owns comes from the public; therefore, the money has to be used to benefit society. Finances is the area which needs the most improvement," said the Garden of Hope Foundation's chief executive officer Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容).

Chi said that the only way to ensure continuing donations from the public was to demonstrate that welfare organizations are managing the money donated to them in a trustworthy manner.

According to the Directorate-General of Budget Accounting and Statistics, 5.35 million Taiwanese donate an average of around NT$42 billion (US$1.32 billion) to charitable groups.

In a survey conducted by the United Way, 40 percent of donors wish to know how their money is used.

The non-profit groups yesterday called for the establishment of legislation to protect the rights of donors. They said that current laws may not safeguard all the rights of donors, and that these organizations feel that their survival and growth is being restricted by the lack of a complementary legal system.

The alliance will be formally established in September as a permanent civic entity to assist charity groups with their organizational and financial management.

The Ministry of the Interior's Department of Social Affairs said yesterday that it regularly posts details of various fundraising programs run by charity organizations on its Web site, such as a list of all approved organizations that may accept donations for the South Asia tsunami relief efforts.

The department has drawn up a clear set of procedures for organizations that wish to conduct fund-raising activities for non-profit purposes.

Following fundraising activities, charity organizations must file reports to the department listing the details of their income. The government may also conduct audits of these organizations to make sure the donations are used for the purposes stated during applications.

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