Swedish Red Cross suffers member exodus

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.

Swedish Red Cross suffers member exodus

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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WyWallet cancels mobile payment policy

It has become easier to make SMS payments and charity donations in Sweden as WyWallet has decided to scrap its maligned registration policy introduced in February.

WyWallet cancels mobile payment policy

Swedish charities and NGOs suffered a downturn in SMS donations after Sweden’s four main mobile network operators – Telia, Tele2, Tre and Telenor – introduced mandatory online registrations for mobile phone money transfers on February 1st.

With the new rules, mobile operators required their customers to register online, including the submission of sensitive personal information, in order to greenlight a money transfer via text message.

“When the new SMS-rules were introduced we lost 92 per cent of our SMS-donations. Now we can hopefully get some of that back,” Swedish Red Cross wrote on Twitter.

The organization published its figures at the end of February, comparing SMS donations to February 2012, and warned the drop could have humanitarian consequences.

Swedish Unicef and Doctors Without Borders also saw a sharp reduction in donations.

Charities blamed the mobile operators’ new money transfer system, WyWallet, which required potential donors to fill in their personal identification number (personnummer) and credit card details.

In addition to being cumbersome, the registration process also raised privacy concerns among the public, despite reassurances by WyWallet that it does not share any personal information with third parties.

At the time,WyWallet’s head of marketing, Adam Hasslert, told news agency TT that the payment services law requires that a client be identified before a transaction is made.

The law came into force after an EU directive was introduced to counteract money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities.

However, TT noted that the law does not require all mobile payments to be subject to client registration.

WyWallet received sharp criticism from companies, too, with traders noting a negative effect on sales.

The biggest user of SMS payments, Stockholm Public Transport (Storstockholms Lokaltrafik), also reacted negatively to WyWallet.

In 2012, Stockholm commuters bought 11.1 million SMS tickets, corresponding to six per cent of ticket sales.

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