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"What can we do for Hong Kong? There are at least four important functions that a philanthropic foundation can achieve to help out.’’

Connie Tsang, Executive Director of Fu Tak Iam Foundation

 

Relentless arguments seem to be an accurate description of Hong Kong society recently. Resentments can be felt everywhere arising not only from political issues but also a lot of major social or livelihood issues. Fogged by unconstructive confrontations, solutions appear out of reach and future prospect looks dim. When negative sentiments escalate, desperate people increasingly point fingers at the government. But for those positive minds, the question that simultaneously emerges is: “What can we do for Hong Kong?’’ Indeed, this is the question each and every one of us should be asking.
 

Identifying ourselves as part of Hong Kong, we at the Fu Tak Iam Foundation ask the same question and at the same time believe there is absolutely something constructive we can do for Hong Kong. As a matter of fact, contributing to solving some of the livelihood problems and helping those who need help to enhance their quality of life is exactly the mission that drives us to work hard in the past six years. And this will not stop.
 

In fact social issues are always of no shortage in any nation or society, however affluent it is. No matter how capable the government there are always unresolved livelihood problems such as discrimination, inadequate medical care, youth drug abuse, crime problems, just to name a few. It has been utterly unrealistic to expect a government to solve every problem. This can be derived from observations of nations with different ideologies across the globe or different times. Even if a government has all the money it needs, it still has too many factors to consider, too many conflicting interests to balance and thus too much to compromise, which regretfully leave many of the social issues unresolved. (This is certainly not to say that the shortcomings related with the system or capabilities of the administration or councils which are often part of the factors can be ignored.)
 

If not because a government is not almighty, the contributing roles of philanthropists or philanthropic foundations would hardly come into place. Relative to a government, philanthropic foundations can be wholeheartedly committed to their missions, more flexible and efficient in their operations and more responsive to social needs. Undoubtedly there are at least four important functions that a philanthropic foundation can achieve:

 

  1. Fill gaps --- so that those disadvantaged groups who are still being neglected can get help to help themselves, or that which needs to be developed can be assisted with development.

  2. Prevent miseries --- so that issues can be prevented before they emerge or before they deteriorate.

  3. Encourage innovations --- so that new paradigms or approaches that may be more effective in mitigating old or new problems can be put to practice.

  4. Sustain impacts --- so that those projects that demonstrate long term impacts would be able to develop in the long run to benefit the society instead of being suspended due to lack of funds or related problems.

 

Fu Tak Iam Foundation has vividly experienced the aforesaid advantages that are counter-illustrated by a government. Upon careful review, we realize that our efforts in the past six years have covered over 110 projects of various scope and beneficiaries. Almost all of them have achieved the first two functions of filling gaps and prevention, especially serious service gaps for the deprived groups or major social issues by large. More than one-third of these projects are innovative projects; and about one-tenth of them are long-term impactful projects and have received our repeated funding support. Regarding innovative projects, examples are: “Standing Out from the Crises” project which helps those indirectly disturbed by neighbourhood crisis such as family violence incidents to overcome anxiety and nightmares (operated by Ladder Mission); “Early Identification and Promotion of Mental Health through Community-based Program”, which helps those struggling with depressive symptoms to recover and regain self-confidence by reaching out to them in the streets (operated by Caritas H K --- Community Development Service). The list can be long. Regarding impactful projects that we have repeatedly supported, examples are “Happy Learning Assessment and Training Centre” which helps children with learning difficulties improve their learning and their parents as well (operated by the Kwun Tong Methodist Social Service); “PARACLETE – Care and Comfort Angel” which provides grief counseling, accompaniment during funeral process and related information to bereaved persons and family members of dying patients (operated by SKH Holycarpenter Church District Elderly Community Centre); and many others.
 

We have been able to achieve these as we are empowered by a shared mission and passion to care and help. It is also attributed to a healthy financial management system, a set of clear and systematic operation processes and monitoring criteria, efficient decision-making mechanism, sound communication that always accommodates diversified views; as well as respecting the values of pursuing impacts and improvements. This foundation is highly conducive to our future development but would not seduce us into self-complacency. As we move forward we would ensure that continuous improvements would consistently be part of our periodic reviews. We would have to set priorities and strategies, as the other philanthropic foundations do. Moreover in light of the challenges and difficult issues in society, we also have to consider how we can identify in a prompter way those which needs our assistance so that we can give support in a more timely manner; and how we can identify service partners with potentials that deserve our support and help them improve capacity and maximize impacts in different perspectives.
 

The development of Hong Kong relies on the collaboration of each and every citizen and organisation. As for our Foundation, while striving to help Hong Kong, needy projects and NGOs pursue sustainable developments, it is equally vital that we strengthen ourselves on the path of sustainable development too.

 

Connie Tsang, Executive Director of Fu Tak Iam Foundation

 

Relentless arguments seem to be an accurate description of Hong Kong society recently. Resentments can be felt everywhere arising not only from political issues but also a lot of major social or livelihood issues. Fogged by unconstructive confrontations, solutions appear out of reach and future prospect looks dim. When negative sentiments escalate, desperate people increasingly point fingers at the government. But for those positive minds, the question that simultaneously emerges is: “What can we do for Hong Kong?’’ Indeed, this is the question each and every one of us should be asking.
 

Identifying ourselves as part of Hong Kong, we at the Fu Tak Iam Foundation ask the same question and at the same time believe there is absolutely something constructive we can do for Hong Kong. As a matter of fact, contributing to solving some of the livelihood problems and helping those who need help to enhance their quality of life is exactly the mission that drives us to work hard in the past six years. And this will not stop.
 

In fact social issues are always of no shortage in any nation or society, however affluent it is. No matter how capable the government there are always unresolved livelihood problems such as discrimination, inadequate medical care, youth drug abuse, crime problems, just to name a few. It has been utterly unrealistic to expect a government to solve every problem. This can be derived from observations of nations with different ideologies across the globe or different times. Even if a government has all the money it needs, it still has too many factors to consider, too many conflicting interests to balance and thus too much to compromise, which regretfully leave many of the social issues unresolved. (This is certainly not to say that the shortcomings related with the system or capabilities of the administration or councils which are often part of the factors can be ignored.)
 

If not because a government is not almighty, the contributing roles of philanthropists or philanthropic foundations would hardly come into place. Relative to a government, philanthropic foundations can be wholeheartedly committed to their missions, more flexible and efficient in their operations and more responsive to social needs. Undoubtedly there are at least four important functions that a philanthropic foundation can achieve:

 

  1. Fill gaps --- so that those disadvantaged groups who are still being neglected can get help to help themselves, or that which needs to be developed can be assisted with development.

  2. Prevent miseries --- so that issues can be prevented before they emerge or before they deteriorate.

  3. Encourage innovations --- so that new paradigms or approaches that may be more effective in mitigating old or new problems can be put to practice.

  4. Sustain impacts --- so that those projects that demonstrate long term impacts would be able to develop in the long run to benefit the society instead of being suspended due to lack of funds or related problems.

 

Fu Tak Iam Foundation has vividly experienced the aforesaid advantages that are counter-illustrated by a government. Upon careful review, we realize that our efforts in the past six years have covered over 110 projects of various scope and beneficiaries. Almost all of them have achieved the first two functions of filling gaps and prevention, especially serious service gaps for the deprived groups or major social issues by large. More than one-third of these projects are innovative projects; and about one-tenth of them are long-term impactful projects and have received our repeated funding support. Regarding innovative projects, examples are: “Standing Out from the Crises” project which helps those indirectly disturbed by neighbourhood crisis such as family violence incidents to overcome anxiety and nightmares (operated by Ladder Mission); “Early Identification and Promotion of Mental Health through Community-based Program”, which helps those struggling with depressive symptoms to recover and regain self-confidence by reaching out to them in the streets (operated by Caritas H K --- Community Development Service). The list can be long. Regarding impactful projects that we have repeatedly supported, examples are “Happy Learning Assessment and Training Centre” which helps children with learning difficulties improve their learning and their parents as well (operated by the Kwun Tong Methodist Social Service); “PARACLETE – Care and Comfort Angel” which provides grief counseling, accompaniment during funeral process and related information to bereaved persons and family members of dying patients (operated by SKH Holycarpenter Church District Elderly Community Centre); and many others.
 

We have been able to achieve these as we are empowered by a shared mission and passion to care and help. It is also attributed to a healthy financial management system, a set of clear and systematic operation processes and monitoring criteria, efficient decision-making mechanism, sound communication that always accommodates diversified views; as well as respecting the values of pursuing impacts and improvements. This foundation is highly conducive to our future development but would not seduce us into self-complacency. As we move forward we would ensure that continuous improvements would consistently be part of our periodic reviews. We would have to set priorities and strategies, as the other philanthropic foundations do. Moreover in light of the challenges and difficult issues in society, we also have to consider how we can identify in a prompter way those which needs our assistance so that we can give support in a more timely manner; and how we can identify service partners with potentials that deserve our support and help them improve capacity and maximize impacts in different perspectives.
 

The development of Hong Kong relies on the collaboration of each and every citizen and organisation. As for our Foundation, while striving to help Hong Kong, needy projects and NGOs pursue sustainable developments, it is equally vital that we strengthen ourselves on the path of sustainable development too.