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The Gazette Editorial Board

The charity societies' growing ad spending has of late raised the public's concern over how the funds that are being collected are channelled.  Charity advertising campaigns are usually intense during the fasting month of Ramadan, which is considered a high season for the people to show compassion, carry out good deeds and be charitable.

This year, the competition was particularly strong between these societies to influence the emotions of viewers as to which one of them was more deserving of charity. The campaigns, which were studded with movie stars, were well-designed to spur the people to donate. But the public, despite their obvious support of this kind of charity work, could not help but ask the question: “How much money do these societies spend on advertising and is it taken out of the funds they raise?” The bombshell which the renowned screenwriter Waheed Hamed recently dropped about the 57357 hospital mismanaging its finances, has increased such worries.

Hamed's claims, yet to be investigated, have been shattering for many people because in Egyptian society, the 57357 charity represents the idea of fundraising in its noblest form. In fact, the hospital, the largest children’s cancer facility in the Middle East, was the first such institution to be built entirely through public donations. Since its completion in 2007 the hospital has been offering high quality services free of charge, using charity money.

Hamed criticised the hospital administration, accusing it of spending much more on advertising than on treating the children. He had reservations about the high salaries paid to the staff when such institutions should depend, to a great extent, on voluntary work. Moreover, he had reservations about the hospital making use of the children's suffering in TV advertisements, to influence potential donors emotionally. He said that this advertising technique was lacking in ethical and human values.

Hamed offered a good argument. And this has prompted the Ministry of Social Solidarity to form a committee made up of representatives from the administrative watchdog as well as the ministries of health and social solidarity, to investigate the matter.

The public should be informed of the committee’s findings as soon as possible, not only because 57375 has developed a good image for charity work but also because the process of fundraising must be turned to achieving the maximum benefit for deserving individuals.

Charity has always been an integral part of the religious belief and social values of Egyptians. And the people need to be sure that the government is supervising the charity institutions, regardless of their popularity and reputation, to ascertain that they are spending the money where it should be spent.  The people should not lose trust in these societies since they have a key role to play in maintaining social justice.