「愛心商數」全民升級

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2010 / 1月

文‧陳歆怡 圖‧莊坤儒


每到寒風颼颼的年關,也是愛心暖暖的季節,不論是個人領到年終順手做愛心,或者企業汲汲營營一整年,終於可以結算兼回饋,總之,送出紅包好過年,但求國泰又民安!


講情重義的台灣,歷經去(2009)年88水災募款總動員,再度創造了單一事件募款百億的愛心奇蹟。然而,資訊社會助長了公共討論,「愛心商數」也相應提升;越來越多人想問:如何給才能真的幫上忙?誰來監督捐款的流向?我所託付的愛心是否有被好好運用?以及,大型災難募款造成資源排擠要怎麼看待?

根據行政院主計處2003年所做的社會調查,在沒有重大天災人禍的一般年頭,台灣人每年的「愛心捐款」總額將近新台幣427億元,相當於中央政府每年社會福利預算的2分之1;調查還顯示,45歲以上的成年人傾向捐獻給宗教團體以及政黨(後者不計算在愛心捐款之內),估計愛心大餅中,至少5成流向宗教團體,3成7集中在社福團體,其他如教育、環保、藝術類的團體則爭取剩下的1成。

愛心大餅欠缺管理

龐大的愛心捐款,反映的是台灣自1980年代以來社會力與經濟力的蓬勃發展。然而,直到2006年「公益勸募條例」頒佈之前,長久以來,僅有一套陳年簡陋的「統一捐募運動辦法」在管理。至於涉及宗教團體財務透明的「宗教團體法草案」(例如規範「功德金」及寺產應受政府監督),也因為各宗教團體強烈反彈,推動多年來遲遲無法完成立法(2009年4月才一讀通過,唯草案中關於宗教建築違法佔用公有土地者得「就地合法」的條文,又引發環保團體抗議)。

另一方面,從捐款人的角度,扮演我國NPO募款平台角色的「中華社會福利聯合勸募協會」曾經做過研究,發現有42%的成年人曾經捐款給公益團體,捐款的前3大理由是:「單純只是為了做善事」、「該公益團體所服務的對象是我認同的」、「已經是一種習慣」。

聯合勸募協會秘書長周文珍解釋,撇開宗教情懷下的「積功德、求福報」心理不論,台灣人的捐款行為其實比較接近「用淚腺帶動愛心」的衝動型捐款,就是「聽聞悲慘事件時趕緊掏錢出來,不太細究募款資訊,也鮮少過問後續發展。」

然而,正因為法令環境不健全,加上捐款者多屬衝動型,當1999年921地震發生後,打著921名號的專案募款金額一下子暴衝到315億元,五花八門的募款單位高達213家(其中4成是各產業公會、宗親會等互惠型組織,3成是媒體、銀行等營利事業),多數徵信不足且沒有執行經驗;此外,引起爭議的現象還包括:慈善團體在災區發放急難慰助金過度輕率、電視台利用募款所得添購SNG車、政府把民間善款拿來支應勞農漁保保費、募款單位挪用百萬捐款購買廣告宣揚自家貢獻等等,這才讓大眾驚覺自己的愛心可能遭到誤用、濫用,從而促使內政部於當年12月底完成「公益勸募條例草案」,民間組織也開始省思專業自律的議題。

921開啟「捐款權益時代」

經過921的教訓,「台灣社會開始將『保障捐款人權益』等同於『保護消費者權益』,」周文珍說。然而法律規範之外,還需「自律」。在國外,由非營利組織策略結盟的監督機制已行之有年,這類機構獨立於政府及任何民間團體之外,透過授權聯盟本部做盟員稽核,協助捐款人做出決策。

舉例而言,美國「智慧捐贈聯盟」就有9位專職人員負責分析全美數百家全國性慈善組織的資料,並對它們的服務效能與資訊透明程度做出評分,定期公布在刊物及網站上。

在台灣,由30個跨領域非營利組織發起的「公益團體自律聯盟」在2005年底正式成立,共同承諾「組織治理、募款誠信、服務效率、財務透明」4大自律原則。

公益團體自律聯盟秘書長張宏林解釋,聯盟是以高於法令規範的責信標準來自我要求,加盟成員的年度財務與工作報表都會百分之百上傳到聯盟網站,提供所有民眾查閱。

捐款要像投資股票!

聯盟對外則呼籲一般大眾,捐錢要像買股票一樣慎選對象,當個聰明的「公益投資家」,才能促進善的循環。

張宏林解釋,「非營利組織是用別人的錢來實現目標理想,當然要戰戰兢兢,比企業更講求『投資報酬率』!」舉例而言,若小市民「投資贊助」的環保團體得以順暢運作,一年可以擋下幾千萬元的不當開發預算,長期則可能保護到瀕臨絕種的動植物,這就是非常明確的效益。

目前,已有100個團體陸續簽署加入聯盟,「意指NPO部門每年有95億元的財務預算自願攤在陽光下接受檢視!」組織類型橫跨社福(63)、文教(21)、醫療(9)、環保動保(4)、藝術(2)與媒體(1),包括聯合勸募、勵馨基金會、伊甸基金會等發展較久、運作成熟的公益團體都加入了,而最讓聯盟夥伴們感到鼓舞的是,年預算金額高達9億元的「公設法人」公共電視文化事業基金會也在隊伍中。

「不過,確實有些團體一聽到要公布財務報表就不願加入。」張宏林舉例,有些家族經營的封閉式企業型基金會認為,基金會的資金既然是老闆自掏腰包,「為善不欲人知」,沒有必要對外公告。張宏林對此很不以為然:「企業型基金會享有抵稅優惠,乃是建立在基金會屬於『公共財』的前提上,沒有藉口拿『隱私』來迴避責信。」此外,幾家由媒體籌設的基金會雖然有受邀,也僅有蘋果日報社福慈善基金會加入自律行列。(見附篇〈媒體募款停看聽〉)

88救災,愛心商數大驗收

如果我們把關於愛心捐款的爭論以及監督機制的摸索,看做是社會集體學習的過程,則2009年莫拉克風災後的募款總動員,正是檢驗全民「愛心商數」是否提升的大好時機。

長期倡導「捐款權益」概念的周文珍觀察,民眾及企業捐款者在經歷一次次的大型募款動員後,其實是有反省與學習的。「雖然這種轉變在主流媒體較少呈現,但只要到網路社群去搜尋,就可窺見民眾對捐款責信的關切越來越高,反省速度也越來越敏捷。」

舉例而言,莫拉克災後一週就有網友呼籲,「心要保持熱血,但錢可以晚一點捐」,而且要「主動留意後續發展」;也有網友提醒:「捐款前不妨反問募款團體,有沒有提出明確的行動計畫?又有多少專業能力能『承擔』我們的愛心?」

其次,企業的資源動員方式也有了很大突破:相較以往企業只會一股腦地捐錢給政府(部分原因是,營利事業捐給政府可以100%抵稅,捐給公益團體則限制扣抵額不得超過營利所得的10%),「此次則有許多企業更願意動員核心資源並實際參與救災,」周文珍指出。

舉例而言,美商台灣微軟公司災後串聯了企業夥伴華碩電腦,提供350台筆記型電腦及無限網卡給災區的重建團隊,並且釋出人力協助架設「88水災服務聯盟」資訊平台;又如,統一超商7-11除了贈送物資,還把物流管理的know-how傳授給受災嚴重的屏東縣政府。

第三項正面觀察,則是網友善用網路來集結與通報訊息:「救災第一時間,不論是自行架設資訊站,或是在bbs上號召組登山隊前往山區部落救災,都是此次創新的形式,」周文珍說。張宏林則認真建議:「或許公部門應該養20名很厲害的『網路魔人』,這樣不知可以攔截下多少不當或錯置的資源?」

當然,資訊過於發達與「相對混亂」,也會加深人心不安,例如此次台東某神父落難訊息就在網路上百轉千折地「緊急求助」了上百次,迫使該神父不得不出面澄清自身早已平安獲救。然而,處在網路時代的好處是,「人們對資訊透明性的要求只會越來越高,而搞鬼造假的訊息很快就會被網友踢爆,唬弄不了多久,」周文珍點出。

資訊透明有這麼難嗎?

當民眾的「愛心商數」步步高升,反過來要問的是:發動募款的民間單位以及相應的政府管理部門,是否能回應民眾的強大關心與自覺力量?

從數字上來看(見前頁表),跟921地震時相比,民間募款總額差不多(921為148億元,88為115.9億元),募款單位卻從213個大幅減至45個,顯示新的勸募法令的確發揮了約束效用。

然而,隨著第一時間的搶救工作告一段落,公益團體自律聯盟也公布了他們對此次88水災募款責信與資源運用的觀察,發現以下亂象──

1、募款計畫用途徵信不足

雖然大部分團體會在網路上、刊物上或是自家媒體上公布捐款芳名錄,但對於募款計畫與支用明細往往只做簡略交代,或是尚未交代。

2、先搶錢,後提計畫

根據內政部社會司在災後第10天首次公布的調查顯示,一些民間募款單位「實際募得的金額」早已超過申請計畫所提列的「預募金額」;截至12月2日止,民間募得的115.9億元已達目標金額57億元的2倍,並呈現「大者恆大」的高度集中趨勢。

張宏林指出,面對「超收」的善款,這些團體都選擇了乘勝追擊而沒有「踩煞車」,問題是,相應增編的計畫卻不見得會主動對外公告,這不僅涉及誠信問題,也容易衍生出資源重疊、計畫浮濫與盲目投資等問題。

有聯盟成員就私下表示,災後各大民間團體在政府召集的重建工作協調會上大手筆認捐、輸人不輸陣,「感覺就像在菜市場喊價」。由於荷包滿滿,個個背負沈重的執行壓力,以至於當有團體說可以蓋100棟組合屋,就有另個團體搶著蓋200棟;有人承諾要蓋2層樓式永久屋,就有人喊出蓋3樓!

3、政府募款未充分說明用途

依現行勸募法規,政府各部門及各級政府在重大災害發生時,無須向內政部社會司提出勸募申請即可直接發動募款。聯盟成員擔心,雖然政府有財務支出規範,但欠缺事前計畫與審核機制,大眾愛心難保不會發生與公務預算混淆或資源重疊的問題。

在自律聯盟的積極施壓下,主管勸募的社會司也上緊發條動起來──不僅主動彙整各縣市主管機關的募款資訊,並且透過每週電話追蹤,不斷要求募款單位更新資料。

內政部社會司表示,這次88水災勸募專案管理乃依照「公益勸募條例」第21條規定:「主管機關得隨時檢查勸募活動辦理情形及相關帳冊,勸募團體及其所屬人員不得規避、妨礙或拒絕。」在公權力行使下,目前內政部「公益勸募管理系統」上,已有7成的民間與將近9成的政府勸募單位做出使用情形說明與支用明細徵信。

此外,為了媒合受災6縣市的需求與民間資源的供給,社會司幾度召開協調會議,讓地方政府列舉需求及預估金額,供民間團體參考並主動「認養」,此舉避免了分配不均和「明星災區才獲援助」的扭曲現象,大受地方政府歡迎;不過社會司也一再叮嚀縣市政府及鄉鎮公所提報需求時,「不該列入公共工程或特別預算已經有編列的工程項目」,捐款必需確實花在災民身上。

愛心大小眼?──排擠效應

對於中央主管機關的努力,自律聯盟抱持肯定,不過張宏林也強調,唯有修法強化募款單位的責信義務,並且讓一般大眾都能順暢取得相關資料,才是讓善款善用的根本之道。

關於大型天災或突發性催淚事件引燃的募款動員,還有一個爭論焦點就是「排擠效應」。從經驗上來看,經濟不景氣,或是大型募款熱潮過後,民眾及企業對日常性捐款的數額就會下降,反映的事實是:「愛心會疲乏,荷包也是有限的。」

然而,個別組織受到的衝擊以及回應的方式,仍因組織規模、服務對象乃至服務性質的不同而有差異。

以成立28年的陽光基金會為例,其收入來源有55%仰賴小額捐款人的長期支持,照理說是特別容易受到景氣波動影響,「慶幸的是,雖然個別捐款人的捐獻額度有縮減(從2007年的平均每月900元降至2008年以來的700元),但捐款總筆數下降幅度卻不大,只要『縮衣節食』還撐得過去,」陽光宣廣部主任王君裳指出,陽光多年來堅守使命,專門協助燒燙傷及顏面損傷人士身心復健與社會重建,「重要的是,要讓大眾看到你的服務價值與深度,捐款人就會願意持續贊助你。」

當重大災難發生時,陽光的第一件事是盤查在災區附近的傷友是否需要協助,也鼓勵員工投入救災活動或一日捐,「但我們絕不會貿然投入自己不熟悉的救災業務,更不會藉此議題草率募款,」王君裳強調。

心路社福基金會研究專員賴金蓮則指出,心路的年度預算1億元中,有1/3得仰賴捐款,2008年因為經濟不景氣,整體捐款比前期小跌了200萬元,88水災後跌幅就更大了,然而據她所知,「小型機構因為沒有專業人力去經營募款,收到的捐款都比過去少了2∼3成,」相較之下,心路近7成收入是來自政府補助和受托兒家長,財務結構已屬穩定。

賴金蓮經常前往中南部,向地區性的非營利組織傳授財務管理及募款know-how,她鼓勵中小型團體深耕社區、多挖掘在地資源,「共同把社會公益的餅做大,從競爭轉為合作關係。」

聯合勸募,照顧所有需要

「聯合勸募」則是另一種正面化解「排擠效應」的方法。邁入第18年的聯合勸募協會,每年可募得超過3億元的大眾捐款,雖然僅佔總捐款額的0.8%,但卻真實提攜了許多「小而必要」的弱勢團體,每年補助超過500件助人計畫,並強調「1人捐款10人受益」、「讓愛心不偏心」。

周文珍表示,所有提案獲得聯勸捐款分配的社福團體,都會受到聯勸的審查委員及稽核委員的嚴密監督,查核報告也向大眾公開:更嚴格的是,如果某筆補助款的使用狀況不符預期,聯勸還有權強制「討回」。

聯合勸募近年募款穩健成長,每年捐款人數超過5萬人,顯示聯勸「合理分配,專業監督」的形象已植入人心。不過,去(2009)年11月開跑、佔聯勸收入1/4的「花旗聯合勸募活動」,卻明顯受88水災的排擠,募款金額比前年11月同期下滑了12%,因此活動將延長1個月到今年2月底,希望未來一整年能讓大大小小的社福團體都無後顧之憂。

愛心升級,你我皆受益

長期關注非營利組織發展與責信議題的台大社工系教授馮燕表示,理想上,對於非營利組織的公共性與責信要求,是由「組織內部獨立自主的董事會」、「非營利組織的集體自律機制」、「政府的政策法令」,以及「積極的媒體」等4種力量共同監督的,同時,為了避免過多「他律」削弱非營利組織的理想性與自律力量,政府法規應僅維持在輔助性的框架建立上。

展望未來,台灣唯一的自律平台公益團體自律聯盟則呼籲更多團體簽署自律公約,彼此監督扶持的同時,也才有實力要求政府「加強興利與防弊的大方向」。

回歸原點,做為捐款人,其實你我都應該多花點時間「聰明做公益」,公益事業這道「社會的最後安全防線」,才可以越來越堅實與牢靠。

大型募款金額一覽表

  921地震 88水災 *已支用
政府募款金額 167 75.73
*74.43
民間募款金額 148 115.96
*37.31
總計 315 191.70
*86.74
民間募款單位前5大

(單位:億元)

慈濟基金會(50)
中華民國紅十字會(18)
TVBS基金會(11.7)
埔里基督教醫院(6.1)
台視公司(6)
──合計91.8億元──
慈濟基金會(45.8)
中華民國紅十字會(35.7)
台灣世界展望會(7.5)
TVBS基金會(5.9)
張榮發基金會(4.6)
──合計99.5億元──
6原則,聰明做公益(整理 陳歆怡) 1.是否為合法立案組織?專案募款有無許可?
為了防止愛心被詐騙,捐款前可向內政部或地方縣市政府查詢是否為合法立案組織。此外,可以主動發起如「飢餓30」、「水蜜桃阿嬤」或「88水災」等「專案性」募款活動的團體,依法只有公益性社團法人、基金會(財團法人)、公立學校及行政法人。政府機關亦可在遭遇重大災害或進行國際救援時發起募款。
2.是否有清楚的年度工作計畫或專案募款計畫?
公益團體運用社會大眾資源,有責任說清楚工作計畫內容,包括為什麼要做這件事?想服務誰?效益怎麼評估?捐款前,不妨主動致電該團體詢問或上網查閱,以判斷該組織的財務及人力是否健全?過去工作績效是否良好?以及未來工作計畫是否合理?
3.確認捐款機構的名稱與帳號
自2006年「公益勸募條例」上路後,公開勸募的單位一定要是合法立案的公益組織,換言之,像是2005年時高雄罹患罕見疾病的「羅倫佐張氏3兄弟」事件中,利用張爸爸的私人帳號接受大眾捐款的方式,在現行法令下已不允許。運用郵局劃撥或ATM轉帳前,可以打電話與捐款單位再次確認帳號,以避免匯入詐騙集團的假帳號。此外,如果希望捐款被用在特定事項「專款專用」(例如指定用在「籌設康復之友交誼中心」),則必需在匯款單上註明專案名稱或捐款目的。
4.主動索取捐款收據
捐款人應該主動索取收據,收據上應載明捐贈人、捐贈金額以及捐贈日期(專案募款需註明該次勸募的許可字號)。如果是透過金融機構匯款,受款單位通常會在1個月內寄出收據。開立收據可避免公益團體漏報或少報捐款收入,捐款人還可以在年度報稅時作為抵扣稅額之用(不超過個人綜合所得20%)。
5.辨別街頭募款是否合法?
遇到街頭募款,可以要求對方出示立案字號及本次募款活動的許可字號,同時詢問:1.是否開立捐款收據?2.募款結果如何公告?3.捐款用途為何?請注意:如果是直接投入捐款箱,就無法開立個別收據,但募款單位仍應請公正第三人開箱驗收並公告募捐結果。
6.捐款後持續關心追蹤
公益團體不僅需要各界的捐款,也需要捐款人的認同與督促。捐款人可以定期了解工作是否有進度?成果是否符合當初的承諾?以作為日後增減捐款的依據。有些團體也會主動宣揚工作進度,例如世展會每年定期寄認養兒童的照片來,並協助寄交禮品或信件。無論如何,一個組織越願意向大眾展現清楚完整的資訊,就越能贏得信賴。★尋找值得信賴的公益團體:1.內政部社會司公益勸募管理系統(http://donate.moi.gov.tw/),或向地方縣市政府查詢。2.公益團體自律聯盟(http://www.npoalliance.org.tw/)★公益勸募活動檢舉信g01@mail.jung.nat.gov.tw(內政部社會司)

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近期文章

EN

Raising the Public's Compassion Quotient

Chen Hsin-yi /photos courtesy of Chuang Kung-ju /tr. by Scott Williams

The end of the year is the season for chilling winter winds. It's also the season for something warmer-compassion. For both individuals and profit-seeking corporations, it's the time of the year for giving back. A "red envelope" given to charity at year's end embodies a hope for the prosperity of the nation and the security of its people.


Taiwan, which places great store in compassion and justice, donated more than NT$10 billion to help the victims of 2009's Typhoon Morakot-related floods. But information societies also foster public debate, and in Taiwan that has meant a corresponding increase in the public's "compassion quotient." Now, more and more people are asking: What kind of giving provides the most tangible help? Who oversees the expenditure of donations? Are our donations being put to good use? And, how should we feel about the crowding-out effect of disaster-relief fundraising?

A 2003 survey by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) shows that in years without a major natural disaster, Taiwanese donate nearly NT$42.7 billion to charity, or about half the amount of the government's annual social welfare budget. The survey also showed that individuals over the age of 45 provided the lion's share of their giving to religious groups and political parties. The largest recipients of charitable giving (which excluded donations to political parties) were religious groups, which received more than 50% of the total. Another 37% went to social welfare organizations, and roughly 10% to educational, environmental, and arts-related groups.

Lack of oversight

The massive volume of donations reflects the rapid increase in Taiwan's social and economic strength since 1980. But prior to the 2006 passage of the Act Governing the Solicitation of Donations for Social Welfare Purposes the only oversight consisted of the outdated and inadequate Regulations on Consolidated Fundraising Campaigns. Fervent opposition from religious groups has kept draft legislation covering religious organizations, which would bring transparency to their financial operations, languishing in the legislature for years.

A study by the United Way of Taiwan, which serves as a fundraising portal for non-profit organizations (NPOs), found that 42% of adults had donated to public-welfare organizations, and that their three biggest reasons for giving were to do a good deed, because the donor identified with those whom the public-welfare organization served, and because it was the donor's custom to give to charity.

Chou Wen-chen, secretary general of the United Way of Taiwan, explains that, setting aside the religious desire to "accumulate virtue and seek karmic rewards," Taiwanese charitable giving tends to be spontaneous and driven by events that stir compassionate feelings. "When people hear about tragic events, they immediately reach for their wallets," says Chou. "They don't look too closely at who or what they are giving to, and rarely show much interest in what happens afterwards."

The lack of a well-developed legal structure and the impulsiveness of donors allowed some 215 fundraising groups-most with little verification of who they were and no operational experience-to spring up in the wake of 1999's Jiji Earthquake and rake in an explosion of NT$31.5 billion in donations for earthquake-related relief. Thereafter, controversies emerged on a number of issues, including charitable groups' too-rapid release of relief funds into the disaster zone, news organizations' use of donations to purchase satellite news gathering vehicles, the government's use of donations to cover labor, farmers', and fishermen's insurance premiums, and fundraisers' misappropriation of millions of NT dollars of donations to purchase ads touting their own achievements. Such events finally made the public aware of the possibility that its compassion was being abused. As a result, in December 1999 the Ministry of the Interior put together a draft of the Act Governing the Solicitation of Donations for Social Welfare Purposes and private groups began giving serious thought to self-regulation.

Donor rights

After the Jiji experience, "Taiwanese society began equating donor rights with consumer rights," says Chou. But self-regulation was needed in addition to legislation. In other nations, alliances of NPOs have been operating oversight mechanisms for years. These mechanisms, which are independent of both the government and the private sector, are charged by the alliances with auditing their members, and in so doing help donors make decisions about where to donate.

In Taiwan, some 30 NPOs from different fields founded the Taiwan NPO Self-Regulation Alliance (TNPOSRA) in late 2005 and pledged to adhere to four principles of self-regulation: organizational governance, fundraising accountability, service efficiency, and financial transparency.

Chang Hung-lin, secretary general of the TNPOSRA, explains that the alliance holds itself to standards higher than those set forth in the law. Members post all of their annual financial statements and job reports on the alliance's website where they can be viewed by anyone.

Donating is like investing

The alliance also urges the public to be as selective with their donations as they would with investments in the stock market. If you're going to start a virtuous cycle, you have to be an intelligent "social-welfare investor."

"NPOs use other people's money to achieve their objectives," explains Chang. "You should be cautious and demand a return on your investment even more vigorously than you would with a company!" For example, if an environmental group in which ordinary citizens have "invested" is well run, it can stop tens of millions of NT dollars in inappropriate development, which will in the long term protect endangered species. That's a very clear benefit.

So far, 100 organizations have joined the alliance. "That means that NPO budgets worth NT$950 million a year have been voluntarily made transparent and accountable," says Chang. TNPOSRA's membership includes 63 social-welfare, 21 educational, nine medical, four environmental and animal conservation, two arts, and one media group. Perhaps the most heartening thing to members is that the Public Television Service Foundation, a public entity with an annual budget of NT$900 million, has also joined.

"On the other hand," Chang says, "there are some groups that refuse to join the moment they hear that they'd have to make their financials public." He explains that some corporate-backed family-run foundations feel that since their funding comes from the boss's pocket, there's no need to make such information public. Chang disagrees. "Corporate-backed foundations enjoy tax write-offs and are established in keeping with the prerequisite that they be 'public goods.' As such, they have no grounds for using claims of 'privacy' to avoid accountability."

Testing the compassion quotient

If we view this casting about for an oversight mechanism and the controversies surrounding charitable giving as society's collective learning process, then the fundraising inspired by 2009's Typhoon Morakot offers a test case for determining whether the public's "compassion quotient" has increased.

Chou, a long-term proponent of the "donor rights" concept, observes that individual and corporate donors reflect on and learn from each major fundraising campaign. "Though these changes are rarely reported by the mainstream media, online communities offer a glimpse into the public's growing concern with accountability and into the thought people are giving to their own actions," says Chou.

For example, the week after Typhoon Morakot, there were people online urging others to stay passionately engaged, but to wait a little before giving money and to keep track of how their money was spent. Others reminded potential donors: "Don't hesitate to ask questions before making a donation. Has the organization provided a clear plan of action? Does it have the professional know-how to put our compassion to work?"

There has also been a major breakthrough in the mobilization of corporate resources. Whereas corporations used to just hand over donations to the government, Chou says that this time many were more interested in themselves mobilizing key resources and actually participating in relief efforts.

For example, Microsoft joined with its strategic partner ASUSTek Computer, Inc. to provide 350 free notebook computers to reconstruction teams working in the disaster area and assigned personnel to assist in the construction of a Typhoon Morakot Service Alliance information portal. Meanwhile, in addition to donating materials, President Chain Store Corporation (the franchise owner of Taiwan's 7-Eleven convenience stores) offered its logistics know-how to the government of hard-hit Pingtung County.

Chou's third positive observation is that people make good use of the Internet to gather and disseminate information. "Actions taken in the first moments of this relief effort-things like setting up information portals and using BBS's to put together teams of mountaineers to deliver relief to villages deep in the mountains-were firsts," says Chou. On the other hand, Chang Hung-lin argues, "Perhaps government bureaus should train 20 or so 'web gurus' who could flag inappropriate or incorrect information."

Is transparency that tough?

As the public's "compassion quotient" slowly rises, we need to ask: will the private bodies that mobilize giving and the corresponding government departments respond to the public's increasing scrutiny and perceived power?

If we compare charitable giving after Typhoon Morakot to that following the Jiji Earthquake (see table, p. 75), we find that the total amount given was roughly the same, but that the number of fundraising institutions fell from 213 to 45, indicating that the Act Governing the Solicitation of Donations for Social Welfare Purposes did indeed impose some constraints.

However, as the initial stage of the Typhoon Morakot rescue efforts came to a close, a TNPOSRA report on fundraising accountability and resource utilization found that several issues remained:

1. Too little information

Though most groups published their donor lists online, in print publications, or via their own media, they offered only the simplest explanations (or none at all) of their fundraising plans and how they intended to use the money they raised.

2. An emphasis on getting the money

A survey by the Ministry of the Interior's Department of Social Affairs released 10 days after the typhoon struck showed that the actual amount of funds raised by some private charities far exceeded the estimated cost of the projects they had proposed. The NT$11.55 billion raised by December 2 was double the initial NT$5.7 billion target and was highly concentrated among the biggest charities.

Chang says that when faced with "excess" charitable giving, these groups chose to forge ahead rather than hit the brakes. The problem was that they didn't necessarily go out of their way to inform the public about what kinds of projects they added to soak up the extra funds. In addition to raising questions about an institution's honesty, this practice can also lead to resource duplication, wasteful projects, and blind investment.

Some alliance members privately remarked that the big groups were profligate when bidding on projects during the government's post-typhoon reconstruction conference. "They were haggling like you would in a vegetable market," said one. Flush with cash and under heavy pressure to get projects going, when one group said it could put up 100 prefabricated homes, another would say it could build 200, and when one promised to build sustainable two-story housing, another would offer three stories.

3. Too little information about government plans

Under current fundraising legislation, when disaster strikes, central and local government departments may immediately solicit donations without first applying to the Department of Social Affairs (DSA). Alliance members worry that although the government has rules on spending, if it solicits donations without having already developed plans for how they will be spent and without an audit mechanism, there might be instances in which donations end up being used in the general budget or in which resources are duplicated.

Under pressure from the alliance, the DSA, which oversees fundraising, has moved to tighten up enforcement-actively gathering fundraising data from the city- and county-level competent authorities and calling charities weekly to press them to update their data. As a result of this exercise of public authority, the MOI's oversight system for charitable fundraising now includes information on planned uses of funds and accounts of how funds were actually spent for 70% of Taiwan's private charities and almost 90% of its government charities.

In addition, to better match private resources to the needs of the six counties and municipalities ravaged by the typhoon, the DSA convened several coordination meetings, permitting local governments to itemize their needs and their estimated costs and giving private groups the opportunity to consider which projects to "adopt." Local governments welcomed the approach, which avoided problems associated with the unequal distribution of resources and the tendency of high-profile disaster areas to get a disproportionate amount of aid. The DSA has also continually exhorted city and county governments and township administrations to avoid including public works projects or projects which already have special budgetary allocations on their list of needs. That is, the DSA is insisting that donations be spent on victims of the disaster.

Though the alliance is full of praise for the hard work of the central government authorities, Chang stresses that the only way to ensure that charitable donations are well used is to revise legislation to require more accountability from charitable groups and to make it easier for the public to acquire information on charities.

The crowding-out effect

Fundraising campaigns related to major disasters or heart-wrenching events are the focus of another controversy-the crowding-out effect. Experience shows that when the economy is struggling and after the period of feverish giving that follows major disasters, routine giving by individuals and corporations falls, reflecting the fact that the wellsprings of compassion run dry and wallets go empty.

Individual organizations respond to this in various ways depending on their size, the nature of their services, and their clientele.

Take the 28-year-old Sunshine Social Welfare Foundation, for example. Long-term small donors provide 55% of its income, which leaves it very vulnerable to economic upheavals. "Fortunately, though the amount given by individual donors has shrunk (from an average of NT$900 in 2007 to just NT$700 in 2008), the number of donations has not fallen much," says Jamie Wong, the foundation's director of promotion and education. "Tightening our belts will get us by." Wong says that Sunshine has held fast to its mission over the years, helping rehabilitate burn survivors and victims of facial disfigurement and get them back into the community. "The key is to make the public aware of the value and extent of your services," says Wong. "If you can do that, donors will continue to support you."

When disaster strikes, the foundation's first actions are to determine whether there are injured persons in or near the disaster zone in need of its assistance and to encourage employees to donate one day's salary. "But we don't take on relief tasks we don't know how to handle, nor do we use this as a pretext for hasty fundraising," explains Wong.

Lai Chin-lien, a researcher with the Syinlu Social Welfare Foundation, says that small groups that don't have specialist fundraising personnel saw their donations fall by 30-40% after Typhoon Morakot. Syinlu, on the other hand, derives nearly 70% of its funding from government subsidies and parents of its clients, which makes its finances relatively stable.

Lai often travels to central and southern Taiwan to share her financial management and fundraising know-how with local NPOs. She encourages small and medium-sized groups to put down roots in their communities and unearth local resources. "We need to work together to enlarge the social welfare pie, to shift from competitive to cooperative relationships," she says.

Meeting everyone's needs

Joint fundraising is a method used to resolve the crowding-out problem. Now in its 18th year, the United Way of Taiwan raises more than NT$300 million per year. While that's only 0.8% of Taiwan's total charitable giving, it means material support for "small but necessary" organizations. The United Way, which backs more than 500 assistance programs, claims that "a single donation helps 10 people" and advocates "compassion that leaves no one out."

Chou says that all the social welfare groups that accept United Way funds are closely supervised by United Way examiners and auditors, and that their reports are available to the public. If even a single subsidy is used in a manner that is inconsistent with expectations, the United Way has the right to demand that it be repaid.

Contributions to the United Way of Taiwan have grown steadily in recent years. With more than 50,000 people now donating every year, it is clear that group's "reasonable distribution, professional oversight" model has gotten through to the public.

Everyone benefits

Joyce Yen Feng, a professor in the Department of Social Work at National Taiwan University, has long been interested in the development of NPOs and accountability issues. She says that ideally demands for accountability and public-mindedness from NPOs should be jointly overseen by four forces: each organization's own independent, autonomous board; NPOs' collective self-regulatory mechanism; government policy and legislation; and a proactive media. At the same time, she argues that, to prevent excessive legislation from weakening the idealism and self-regulatory power of the NPOs, government regulation should remain merely a supplemental framework.

Looking ahead, Taiwan's only self-regulatory platform, TNPOSRA, is urging more organizations to sign on to its self-regulation covenant, which it sees not just as a means by which groups can exercise oversight and support one another, but as the only way to forcefully demand that the government strengthen its orientation towards fostering the good and weeding out the harmful.

To return to the original point, we as donors should spend a little extra time being smart about charity if we are to ensure that Taiwan's charitable endeavors, "society's last line of defense," become better established and more robust.

Major fundraising campaigns

  aJiji Earthquake Typhoon Morakot *already spent
Government fundraising 167 75.73
*74.43
Non-governmental fundraising 148 115.96
*37.31
Total 315 191.70
*86.74
Five largest non-governmental fundraisers

(Unit:NT$1 bilion)

Tzu Chi Foundation (5.0)
Red Cross (1.8)
TVBS Foundation (1.17)
Puli Christian Hospital (0.61)
TTV (0.6)
-Total: 9.18-
Tzu Chi Foundation (4.58)
Red Cross (3.57)
World Vision Taiwan (0.75)
TVBS Foundation (0.59)
Chang Yung-fa Foundation (0.46)
-Total: 9.95-
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