Volunteers for Yan Chai Hospital’s charity flag day lost 11 donation collection bags while taking them to a collection centre in January, the charity’s board of directors has confirmed. The incident was only revealed this week after a whistleblower alerted the media.
Yan Chai said in a statement that it issued 9,114 donation collection bags for the territory-wide flag day on January 30, 11 of which were lost in Kwai Chung as volunteers were returning them. Baldwin Cheng Shing-fung, chairman of the board, told Apple Daily that the volunteers put the bags in a taxi, but the driver closed the door and drove away before they could get in. Cheng said the volunteers were unable to record the taxi’s license number. Yan Chai said it tried to trace the bags on the same day through a taxi union lost and found service centre but failed to locate them.
The charity reported the case to the police according to the guidelines issued by the Social Welfare Department. However, the loss was not made public until Thursday, after a whistleblower told local media about the incident.
Yan Chai said it has no way of knowing how much money was in the bags, as all the bags are combined in a central collection centre, and the amounts of individual bags are not recorded.
“As a promoter of charity, every fundraising event relies very much on volunteers’ active participation and the support from the public. We completely trust our volunteers’ integrity and ethics, we believe such lost event was an isolated incident,” it said.
The charity will participate in another flag day on Saturday. It said that it will use schools and social service centres as collection points as banks will be closed, and at least two staff members will be at every station to sign off and confirm the number of bags collected.
“Yan Chai attaches great importance to every single cent of donation, there is a complete system, a fair and strict mechanism to handle donations,” it said.
“Yan Chai expresses deep regret, and will notify volunteers to safeguard donations carefully in the future, to avoid similar incidents from happening again,” it added.
Responding to local media enquiries, the Social Welfare Department said Yan Chai did not notify it of the incident. The department said that organisations that received a permit to collect donations on flag days should issue guidelines for volunteers, and take preventive measures to avoid any fraud.
It added that it had not received any report from other organisations about losing donation collection bags in the past year.