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City Billboard System to Boost Charitable Donations

The Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs will sponsor the erection of charity billboards in cities to stimulate civic generosity, said a senior civil affairs official in Beijing on Tuesday.

Wang Zhenyao, director of the Disaster Relief Department of the ministry, said that the billboards are part of efforts to meet the country's five-year target of boosting annual charity donations from the current 10 billion yuan (US$1.25 billion) to 50 billion yuan (US$6.25 billion) in 2010.

Wang said when attending a forum on charitable causes held in west China's Chongqing Municipality that China has a huge charity donation potential.

He said that if every person donated 50 yuan (US$6.25), the national charity fund would reach 65 billion yuan (US$8 billion). Per-capita charity donations in the United States averaged US$876 in 2005.

Wang said that billboards listing city donations would encourage cities to give money to charity as a way of displaying their generosity and their economic power. Charities would benefit, he said.

The official did not give a timetable for erecting the billboards and said the idea was still at the drawing board stage.

According to the ministry's statistics, civil affairs departments in China collected donations worth 3.1 billion yuan (US$387 million) in 2005, and semi-governmental charity organizations another 2.9 billion yuan (US$362 million). Other donations were channeled through non-governmental organizations.

(Xinhua News Agency October 11, 2006)

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