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Swedish Red Cross suffers member exodus

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Swedish Red Cross suffers member exodus
08:29 CEST+02:00
The Swedish Red Cross lost 44,000 members in 2010, equating to every fifth, according to a report from Sveriges Radio's Ekot news programme.

The membership exodus is explained by widespread criticism over high salaries and a high profile fraud scandal.

"It is a very large decline. It certainly shows a dissatisfaction, but this issue of fraud is quite common in organisations. But many many elect not to call in the police. I am very proud of the fact that the Red Cross did call the police," said Red Cross press secretary Karin Tengby to Ekot.

By the end of 2010, the Red Cross had 188,295 members. At the same time its donations climbed from 236 million kronor ($39 million) to 299 million kronor in 2010.

Swedish Red Cross secretary-general Ulrika Årehed Kågström, pointed out that costs for fund-raising, memberships and administration declined from 13 percent in 2009 to 9 percent in 2010.

Part of the organisation's work to regain the trust of the electorate has been to launch a drive for efficiency.

"The major changes which we have completed over the past year are starting to come to fruition," she said in a statement.

Årehed Kågström meanwhile conceded that the process will take time.

"We are conscious that we have to work hard and for a long time to regain the trust and find new forums for people to channel their commitment," she said.

The Svea Court of Appeal on Monday rejected an appeal by former Swedish Red Cross communications chief, Johan af Donner, against a conviction for defrauding the organisation out of millions of kronor.

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