The way ahead
While Internet companies have brought a wave of netizens’ enthusiasm to charity development through popular social campaigns, some questions have also been raised.
As the artworks by painters with autism went viral in August, some online commentators doubted whether they were really painted by these people, and others questioned if Tencent and the project’s initiator, Shanghai-based World of Art Brut Culture, received any commission, despite the latter being a private nonprofit organization.
Tencent responded to all the doubts online, publishing a statement about how they launched the project and how donors could track their donations as well as releasing videos showing painters with autism creating and introducing their works.
The company also stated that the money raised would not be funneled through Tencent’s charity platform; it will go directly to Ai You Future Foundation, a Shenzhen-based organization.
“For public fundraising projects, donations will go to the accounts of the organizations qualified to raise money publicly, which are also responsible for the usage of the funds,” said Yang Sibin, member of the Academic Council of the China Charity Alliance.
Many charities today are Internet-based, and they are increasingly run on third-party platforms. To safeguard against fraud, the Charity Law, which took effect on September 1, 2016, stipulates that only charitable organizations officially approved for public fundraising activities can post relevant information online.
“In the past, NGOS were concerned mostly with finding people who could donate. But now, they must provide more information: Donors need to know who will finally benefit from their donations and what the whole process is like, not only where the money goes,” said Zhang Jianmin, Vice Secretary General of China Women’s Development Foundation.
Tencent Foundation, established in 2007, renewed its transparency policy earlier this year, requiring organizations on its platform to publish the amount of funds raised, the expenses, and the plan of the target project. Those who meet the requirements are approved to participate in its annual charity campaign in September.
“The exposure of complete and true information guarantees that participants have a good record, which earns public trust and also enables people to select better projects and helps them accomplish their goals,” said Chen Yidan, Tencent Foundation founder.
Liu Qiang, founder of an NGO in Nanjing, sees the positive side. “Although the amount of money I raised through Tencent Foundation’s campaign is small, I’m still excited because community-level organizations need to depend on giant platforms to attract more participation,” Liu said.