Beijing, September 9 ( -- Families of patients who urgently need to raise medical expenses raise part of their own funds and provide corresponding reimbursement invoices, and public welfare organizations "match donations" according to a certain proportion of this amount and return the funds to patients on time. This model once convinced many sick families, and even went so far as to borrow money online to raise their own funds, hoping to use the money to subsidize their families and buy medicines.

Until recently, it was rumored on the Internet that the person in charge of the 9958 Children's Emergency Rescue Center Project (hereinafter referred to as the 9958 Project) under the China Children's Charity Rescue Foundation (hereinafter referred to as the China Children's Charity Rescue Association) defrauded the families of the children in the name of "matching donations" and swept away tens of millions of donations. Afterwards, the China Children's Compassion Association publicly responded that Ke Mouxiao was not a staff member of the association and had worked as a brief volunteer in the cooperative institution in the Langfang area of Hebei Province for the project. He is currently in custody for investigation. found that in recent years, similar cases of "matching donations" fraud have appeared. Some criminals take advantage of the patient's family's eagerness to raise money for treatment, as well as the management loopholes in the operation mode of some charities, set up scams, bring serious losses to the families, and also put many charities that do serious illness medical projects into a crisis of trust.

Photo by Wei Xianghui, Beijing Headquarters of China Children's Association

What is a matching gift?

In this turmoil, the model of "matching donations" has been controversial. According to some of the victims, they were sending money to private accounts, and at first they did return more money, so many people joined. But by the end of August this year, many family members realized that they might have been scammed when they discovered that the promised funds had not been returned.

It is understood that in the matching donation project led by Ke Mouxiao, the matching donation must be collected by a number of "middlemen", and the scattered funds of the child's family members will be collected into a large amount of funds, and finally transferred to Ke Shanxiao's personal account. For each parent of a patient who is recruited by these "middlemen" to participate in the matching donation project, they can receive a certain amount of rebates, ranging from as little as two or three hundred yuan to as much as five or six hundred yuan.

This is not the first time this has happened. According to media reports, in 2021, a number of families with leukemia from Hubei, Guangxi, Beijing and other places reported that they encountered charity "matching donation" scams, and they were introduced to participate in a number of "matching donation" activities, but it was difficult to recover after raising hundreds of thousands of yuan.

Deng Guosheng, dean of the 21st Century Development Research Institute at Tsinghua University, told that matching donations is a common method to encourage public donations internationally, but some institutions or individuals use fraudulent donations or set donations to obtain matching funds, which goes against the original purpose of charity. According to the Charity Law, charitable fundraising is a fundraising activity carried out by an unspecified majority of people and must be carried out in the public interest.

He pointed out that in matching activities, donations from the public are for the purpose of public charity, and once donated, they cannot be returned to the donor. If the child's family donates only to obtain matching donations, and the donated funds must be returned, this act itself does not meet the definition of charitable donation in the Charity Law, and its essence is not a donation.

The statement of the China Children's Charity Aid Foundation on the 9958 Children's Emergency Relief Project of the Association of Relevant Netizens Screenshot from the official website of the China Children's Charity Association

On September 9, the China Children's Charity Aid Foundation clearly mentioned in a response statement, "Regarding the 13 million yuan of funds transmitted on the Internet, after verification by the association, the association's account has never received these funds." It is understood that the parties sent funds to Ke Mouxiao's personal account and had received money returns from Ke Mouxiao's personal account."

Charity or business?

Zhong Tiehua, a professional philanthropist, told that the turmoil that will occur in China Children's Charity has actually exposed three long-standing problems in the field of charity: the ethical problem of putting fundraising first, the mechanism of fund shortage for children with serious diseases, and the professional ethics and behavior norms of practitioners.

She introduced to the current operation mechanism of charity projects for children with serious diseases, with the foundation responsible for fundraising and cooperating with private non-enterprise organizations, which specialize in implementation. The problem is that if the foundation motivates the executive to become a fundraising team and develop fundraising volunteers, or fundraisers, the risk increases if it promotes the fundraising effect too much, and lacks fundraising management and brand management.

Zhong Tiehua said that these fundraisers tend to have strong social mobilization ability, have better relations with government and enterprises, and can raise a certain amount of money, such as the role of Ke Mouxiao in the children's charity association. These people are not regular employees of the foundation, and if they take the money to do illegal and foul things, they will lose control and thunderstorm, which will directly cause losses to the money of the patient's family.

The person in charge of a public welfare organization told that someone once asked him to mobilize patients to initiate fundraising activities in the form of a donation during the 99 Giving Day to obtain matching donations and then return to patients in the form of funding to raise unrestricted incentives for the organization, but this is not in line with the logic of charity and unfair to institutions that truly mobilize the public.

He said that the operating costs of professional public welfare organizations are very high, and only a few government procurement projects, or public welfare venture capital projects, and even some government procurement projects require that labor costs and operating costs cannot be put in. In addition, the value of public welfare organizations is based on independent existence, and the source of funds should not rely on corporate sponsorship, often relying on corporate social responsibility donations. However, corporate social responsibility generally requires pre-tax deduction qualifications, and front-line public welfare organizations basically cannot obtain this qualification, so they all cooperate with foundations with charitable organization certification qualifications.

Every year on 99 Giving Day, Tencent Foundation not only provides 3 million yuan as a matching donation fund for public welfare projects to support all public welfare projects in fundraising, but also provides unrestricted incentives for projects that have done a good job in mobilizing to support the operating expenses of the organization. However, it is difficult to really mobilize public fundraising, so in order to get incentives, some institutions will mobilize patients and their families to donate themselves or mobilize others around them to donate to obtain matching donations, and then return them to the "donor" in the form of funding to obtain incentive subsidies.

"At present, the participation of public charitable donations in China still needs to be improved, and it is difficult to recognize and understand the human costs and operating costs of professional public welfare organizations, and public welfare organizations cannot use funds well and manage public welfare projects without manpower and operation, resulting in objective survival difficulties." The above-mentioned person in charge said.

Screenshot from Tencent Public Welfare Weibo

On September 9, Tencent Charity Foundation issued a notice in response to the suspected removal of tens of millions of relief funds from the China Children's Charity Association, saying that it would suspend fundraising for all 13 projects and wait for the results of the investigation.

How to break the game?

"The point of breaking the situation is that every participant in public welfare undertakings, from civil affairs departments to industry associations, foundations, public fundraising platforms, rescue agencies and other public welfare undertakings, should pay attention to the recipients, assume social responsibilities, and take the initiative to maintain the justice of the industry. Zhong Tiehua believes that the industry on the moral high ground cannot be used as a tool for making money, and needs to return to the positioning of social functions.

A few days ago, the WeChat public account of the China Foundation Development Forum issued an article ""Serious Illness Relief" Public Fundraising Model, Where is the Road?" , discussed the public fundraising model of "serious illness relief" and its compliance risks and responses.

Cui Lanxin, secretary general of Beijing Chunmiao Charity Foundation, said, "When our country's medical insurance cannot fully cover medical expenses, we need to face up to the problem of charitable assistance to seriously ill patients. If it is within the scope of our pool, we should not go online to fundraise, but if we can't solve the situation, I think we can also fundraise for individual cases. But who to fundraise, I believe is not only the consensus of the industry, but also the basic requirement of the law."

He Guoke, a lawyer at Beijing Zhicheng Law Firm, pointed out that the current overall supervision and management mechanism of the charity industry is not perfect, and it is neither scientific nor reasonable to let the civil affairs department manage all matters in the charity field.

He believes that "there needs to be some innovation in regulatory mechanisms, such as exploring the public interest litigation model in the field of charity, including the procuratorate and charity industry organizations can promote the truth of some major public interest events in the charity field to be truly presented, rather than many ambiguous events passed, as if the hot search has passed, charitable organizations will land, and the charity industry will be safe." (End)