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The Red Cross Society of China faces a credibility crisis, following a series of high profile scandals. Extravagant staff meals and links between a senior executive and Guo Meimei have seriously damaged the reputation of China's largest charity. The organization has now launched an initiative to provide more transparency, opening all donations to public scrutiny.
The charity is trumpeting its Red Cross Publicity Platform. The website will make public all Red Cross donations, expenditure, and projects. People can request information by typing in the name of a donor or project. They can also trace and supervise the use of the money by the Red Cross.
The project is in its early stages. All data is not yet available, but it will be added over time.
Wang Rupeng, Secretary General of Red Cross Society of China said, "This online platform still needs improving, and is still on trial. But it's the first step in making the organization transparent. We really hope people will give feedback and advice."
Among the first items to be published was the use of money donated for the Yushu Earthquake. People can check all donations since January 11th, 2010.
For individual donations above 100 thousand Yuan and company donations above 500 thousand yuan, people can follow the projects that were funded, and how they're being run.
Wang Rupeng said, "It's a huge data base. For instance, we received more than 2 million donations for the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, and more than 300 thousand for Yushu. It takes time to input all this data. We decided to release the information on the Yushu Earthquake first."
Donations for the Wenchuan Earthquake, and other disasters, such as the Zhouqu Mudslide, will be released over the coming days.
Wang Rupeng said, "We've always had a donation inquiry facility on our website. But it could only tell you whether the donation had been received. The new system will show people how the money is used, giving donors have a clearer picture."
There are drawbacks: the system is not currently capable of real time inquiries, contrary to some media reports.
The Red Cross says the lack of real-time requests is due to the many different ways of making donations, such as online and mobile payments, and bank transfer.
The organization admits improvements are still needed. But it says it will work hard to strive for ever greater clarity and transparency.