Sun, Jul 22, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Local charities thrive as public donations increase

BOUNTIFUL HARVEST The generosity of Taiwan's businesses and individuals has allowed around 80 percent of local charities to break even so far this year

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

The number of charities and the amount of donations they receive are soaring amid a wave of public generosity since the end of the Martial Law era, social welfare experts said yesterday.

Speaking to members of United Way, a global coalition of charitable organizations, academics from the social welfare department at National Chung Cheng University yesterday praised the nation for its commitment to charity, especially at the individual level.

"Concepts that pertain to charity, philanthropy and non-profits were weak when the Martial Law era ended in 1987," said Chung Cheng University professor Kuan Yu-yuan (官有垣). "But such concepts are now very strong here."

Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) figures show that the number of nonprofits in 1987 was 11,329.

150 percent increase

That figure, Kuan said, jumped nearly 150 percent to 28,077 nonprofits last year, while public donations have also soared.

A survey conducted by DGBAS in 2003 showed that nearly NT$43 billion (US$1.5 billion) is given by more than five million people yearly to various local charities, including United Way, Taiwan.

Of the many corporate, government and individual sponsors, ordinary citizens account for the biggest chunk of donated wealth, or nearly 40 percent, he added.

Natural disasters, such as the 921 Earthquake in 1999 and the Asian Tsunami in 2003, led to spikes in donation figures, Kuan added, citing DGBAS statistics.

In 1999, NT$63 billion worth of donations poured in to various nonprofits, much of it for earthquake victims and reconstruction. The public also gave NT$5 billion in 2003 in tsunami-related donations.

Generosity

Such generosity has allowed nearly 80 percent of local charities this year break even or enjoy a surplus, said Chung Cheng University researcher Wang Yung-tze (王永慈) yesterday at the United Way conference celebrating the nonprofit's 15th anniversary here.

"Founded in 1992, United Way, Taiwan, ushered in concepts of cooperative fundraising and distribution of donations," Wang said, referring to United Way's method of dispersing some of its donations to other local charities to help them provide social welfare services at the community level.

In 1990 -- its first year of soliciting donations locally -- United Way attracted a mere NT$1.14 million in donations, Kuan said.

Steady rise

However, that figure had steadily risen to NT$300 million as of last year, bringing total donations over 17 years of charity work to NT$2.3 billion, he said.

Among the many United Way organizations worldwide, United Way, Taiwan, leads them in soliciting donations online, United Way, Taiwan, chairman Chien Chun-an (簡春安) said.

"Taiwan is special in that its people donate so much and so often," Chien said.

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