NATIONAL

Citizen probes to help restore trust in Community Chest

By Kirsty Taylor
  • Published : May 11, 2011 - 18:27
  • Updated : Jun 8, 2011 - 15:14
The Community Chest of Korea is to set up citizens’ monitoring committees to keep tabs on the recently-disgraced charity’s actions.

Officials at the nation’s only government-sanctioned charity told the Korea Herald the scrutinizing committees were to be set up at the CCK’s central office in Seoul as well as at the organization’s 16 other regional offices.

The monitoring groups are to evaluate donations, distribution and CCK operations at all of the charity’s sites.

The committees will include people who are donors, beneficiaries and experts, as well as between 10 and 20 members of the public

CCK centers held recruiting activities to fill the roles in April and are soon to select from applicants to sit on these monitoring boards.

The committees are to perform for one year, monitoring the CCK’s operations and donation collecting on a part-time voluntary basis. They will attend at least one conference per quarter, and shall be able to require changes where they see fit.

“The CCK secretariat has the plan to receive and reflect committee members’ correction and improvement requirements, and will show their actions and minutes on CCK’s homepage,” a CCK spokesman said.

The new monitoring groups will be the latest in a string of measures aiming to restore public trust in the umbrella charitable body that saw a dramatic drop in donations following a scandal late last year. 
Children at Shinil Kindergarten in Seoul show piggy banks full of cash after raising funds for Community Chest of Korea causes.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare inspected the CCK’s headquarters and 16 local branches last October and November after an internal investigation by the charity found several cases of embezzlement and corruption.

The government audit revealed that the charity had wasted a large sum of donations on entertainment, employed disqualified workers in return for favors and recklessly managed donated money.

A total of 164 people, more than half the 292 workers at its branches nationwide, were to be punished following the inspection.

The charity’s spokesman said: “CCK is taking steps that can greatly enhance our transparency, fairness and efficiency, and working hard to revive itself as the most trusted organization.”

The organization restructured its staff and appointed new executives in February, after January’s introduction of a system to immediately lay off and fine workers in the case of corruption.

CCK also launched a Donation Information Service on April 15, which allows all donors to view how their donations are being used online.

Fundraising targets

The umbrella charity which supports a wide range of causes and organizations in Korea is the nation’s biggest nationwide welfare institution.

The charity raised 339.5 billion won in 2010 ― almost a third of which came from individual donations, including from the charity’s Honor Society. The group includes 44 individuals who have each donated 100 million won or more, and has alone raised more than 8 billion won since it was formed in January 2010.

The rest of last year’s funds came from corporate donors including Samsung, Hyundai-Kia-Motors, LG, SK and POSCO as well as a range of small and medium-sized firms.

The charity aims to raise at least 350 billion won in 2011.

The CCK spokesman said the money was put to good use because of the wide spread of organizations it donated to.

“CCK doesn’t raise and allocate resources to specific organizations or particular religions, but supports all welfare organizations and NGOs all around the country,” he said. “Moreover, it differentiates from other fundraising organizations in that it has the vision and mission as the leading organization for spreading the culture of giving and sharing in our society.”

Sharing pensions

As well as its regular campaigns, the CCK this year is promoting a scheme to help wealthy older people share with their less well-off peers.

“The Happy Sharing Pension Campaign approaches relatively wealthy pensioners to share a certain amount from their monthly pension,” explained the spokesman.

“We hope to contribute to eliminating the blind spot in the current welfare system by supporting aged people on low incomes by helping with medical costs and living expenses.”

The scheme is one of a raft of initiatives to help reduce so-called welfare “blind spots” in the Korean welfare system.

To donate to the general CCK pot call their giving hotline on 060-700-1212 to automatically donate 2,000 won per call. Or go to www.chest.or.kr to learn more about other CCK initiatives.

(sharing@heraldcorp.com)