Donations to the Red Cross Society of China dropped 59.39 percent in 2011, according to an annual report on public donations published Thursday.
The China Charity Information Center said in its report that the Red Cross received about 2.87 billion yuan (451 million U.S. dollars), accounting for 3.4 percent of total public donations last year.
In June 2011, a young woman identifying herself as “Guo Meimei” claimed to work for an organization affiliated with the Red Cross. The woman posted photos depicting her lavish lifestyle on the Internet, prompting speculation that she had embezzled money to fund her extravagances.
The Red Cross Society of China denied employing her. However, the incident resulted in persistent public calls for the organization to boost its transparency.
The scandal negatively affected the public’s willingness to donate to charity, according to Liu Youping, deputy director of the charity center.
Total public donations dropped to 84.5 billion yuan in 2011, down 18.1 percent year on year.
Liu cited fewer major natural disasters as one of the reasons for the drop, adding that donations directed toward disaster relief dropped by 20 billion yuan.
Public donations totaled 100 billion yuan in 2008 after a massive earthquake hit south China’s Sichuan province. Donations topped 100 billion yuan again in 2010, when another large earthquake hit Yushu county in northwest China’s Qinghai province.
Over 60 percent of all public donations were made through social organizations, while 13.2 percent were made through government channels, the report said.
China’s philanthropy sector received 68.87 billion yuan from charity lotteries, as well as volunteer services worth 1 billion yuan, in 2011, according to the report.