LIN Center for Community Development

LIN's mission is to provide support services to local NPOs, skilled volunteers and donors who are committed to building strong communities. The LIN Center for Community Development serves grassroots not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) and individual and corporate philanthropists located in and around Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. By helping local people to meet local needs, LIN aims to promote a healthy environment for philanthropy in Vietnam and strengthen the communities in which we live and work.
Apr 1, 2015

Roundtable on Community Philanthropy

LIN Presentation at Roundtable
LIN Presentation at Roundtable

Community Philanthropy – The Missing Link in Development

On 20 March 2015, on the occasion of a visit by Ms. Jenny Hodgson, Director of the Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF) and an exchange with two representatives from the Learning for Development Association (Laos), the LIN Center for Community Development was pleased to co-organize a roundtable discussion on “Community Philanthropy – The Missing Link in Development: Global Trends and The Vietnam Experience”.

Based on a quick survey of roundtable guests, which included 20 members of the donor community, academia and peer organizations from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Vientiane, few felt that they understood what was meant by “community philanthropy”. Ms. Hodgson, a globally recognized expert in the field of community philanthropy, reassured our guests by explaining that while community philanthropy is not new, the field is not well understood throughout the world. Ms. Hodgson then went on to describe six distinguishing features of a community foundation:

  • Bridging institution
  • Multi-stakeholder governance (not “owned” by anyone person or entity)
  • “Grantmakers Plus” (i.e., doing more than just giving out grants)
  • Locally owned, locally led
  • Building (on) local assets
  • Flexibility to adjust to the changing needs of a community

“Many [community philanthropy organizations] feel under pressure to give out money that is too big,“ observed Ms. Hodgson. “But grassroots groups do not need a lot of money. They need other kinds of capacity building support such as networking and mentoring… and other, non-financial, assets that exist within a community.” Sharing examples of the Haiti Community Foundation Initiative, the Kenya Community Development Foundation and TEWA - in Nepal, Ms. Hodgson demonstrated how local community members are building local assets, capacities and trust to strengthen their own communities rather than rely on international development workers to do it for them.

The number of community foundations around the world has nearly doubled since 2000. As of 2010, there were over 1600 community foundations. According to Ms. Hodgson, such growth can be explained by a number of factors, including: dramatic changes in the political and economic landscapes of many low and middle income countries; a new wealthy class and growing middle class; reductions in international development assistance; and growing inequality. LIN shared its own rationale for supporting a community philanthropy approach, setting out to address real challenges faced by local nonprofits, which lack training and reliable sources of funds; by local donors, who are focused on short-term solutions; and local people, who do not know how best to engage in the development process.

During the discussion, participants asked about the development of community philanthropy organizations and whether the receipt of foreign funds for this purpose makes them less like community philanthropy organizations. To this, Ms. Hodgson addressed the advantages and disadvantages of using external funds. “The groups that have been most successful in raising local money are those that have no other choice because there is little to no foreign money available.” For communities that are able to attract external funds, those funds can be used to build local assets such as educating local donors, facilitating engagement in local projects (volunteerism), stimulating matching funds and in-kind donations (venues, food and beverages, supplies, etc.).

When asked whether community philanthropy organizations should focus on a single theme Ms. Hodgson clarified that community philanthropy needs to be as broad as the community it represents. “There is no blueprint,” she said, adding, “there needs to be a mechanism to listen to the community, an ability to play a facilitating role and [to] be open to different groups… The beauty of community philanthropy is that it can change as a community changes.”

The roundtable included representatives from organizations that are engaged or interested to engage in community philanthropy. The goal of the roundtable was to improve the quality of life in our community by making us more informed and effective contributors to local development.

Postscript:

LIN & Global Fund for Community Foundations

The Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF) gave LIN its first grant in 2009, which allowed us to conduct research on local philanthropic practices, develop materials for core programs and support the education of LIN staff in grantmaking and foundations. Since then, LIN has received two additional grants from GFCF, which also funded LIN staff and board members to participate in peer exchanges in Latvia, Slovakia, South Africa and, most recently, Thailand.

GFCF is a grassroots grantmaker working to promote and support institutions of community philanthropy around the world. Since 2006, GFCF has awarded $3.2 million in grants to 157 community foundations and other local philanthropic institutions in 52 countries.

Jenny Hodgson is GFCF’s Executive Director, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has been working in the field of philanthropy and development since 1992 in the former Soviet Union, sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. She was Co-Director of the Charities Aid Foundation office in Moscow, she worked as a consultant to the Ford Foundation office for Eastern Africa and she also advised the European Foundation Centre, the Singapore National Centre for Volunteering and Philanthropy among others.

LIN & Learning for Development Association

Learning for Development Association (LDA) seeks to become a central networking home for nonprofit associations (NPAs) in Laos who work in development for poverty alleviation. LDA provides space and opportunities for NPAs to come together to learn new skills, share their knowledge and grow their organisations. LDA is a locally established, non-political, nonprofit network, emphasizing the achievements of its members’ goals and objectives in continuous development of the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in Laos.

From 13 to 14 November 2014, in Vientiane, Laos, Vietnamese grantees of Irish Aid and representatives of Laos nonprofit associations met together to exchange experiences, lessons learned and best practices in capacity building for nonprofits, good governance and accountability, and working with local government and businesses. During the workshop, LIN and LDA met for the first time and discovered many similarities in experience, mission, objectives and programs. With support from CDI, a nonprofit based in Hanoi, LIN and LDA organized a follow-up exchange visit, from 16 to 20 March, in Ho Chi Minh City to share experiences, best practices and lessons learned in community philanthropy.

Jenny Hodgson Presentation at Roundtable
Jenny Hodgson Presentation at Roundtable
Q&A
Q&A
Q&A during the roundtable
Q&A during the roundtable

Links:

Mar 27, 2015

Volunteer Discusses Fundraising Ethics with NPOs

Group Discussion 1
Group Discussion 1
LIN Skilled Volunteer Leads Discussion on "Ethics in Nonprofit Fundraising"

24 representatives of local nonprofits participated in LIN's January Morning Coffee on 23 January 2015 at the LIN Community Center.  Ms. Nguyen Phuong Anh, a fundraising expert and freelance consultant, volunteered to facilitate a discussion on the topic of "Ethics in Nonprofit Fundraising". Ms. Phuong Anh has a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of Pennsylvania and has supported program work and fundraising on behalf of both international and local nonprofit organizations in Vietnam.

During the morning coffee, participants discussed their values and experiences with fundraising.  The discussion addressed transparency and accountability in fundraising as well as communications and reporting to donors.  Ms. Phuong Anh introduced efforts by international organizations to promote "ethical fundraising" in order to give participants more knowledge in this area.  The group then discussed whether similar codes of conduct could be introduced into the context of Vietnam.
Participating nonprofit staff shared their challenges with regards to fundraising, from how to allocate staff time and organizational funds for fundraising activities, how to present actual costs to donors who prefer to support project activities but not overhead, how to improve transparency in fundraising and reporting to donors and more...   By the end of the discusison, the participants all felt that there should be a guide or code that is written by local nonprofits to support "Ethics in Nonprofit Fundraising".

"I think it is a good idea to develop guidance to help local organizations with their fundraising activities," said Mr. Pham Thanh Van, Founder and Advisor to the Tinh Thanh Program. "They will know what they can do and what they should not do. Currently, we are doing the best we can with what we know as social workers, community development practitioners.  We are not professional fundraisers, so a guide could prove to be very helpful." 
Group Sharing
Group Sharing
Group Discussion 2
Group Discussion 2

Links:

Dec 9, 2014

Volunteers from MASH help ICS Win CPI 2014!

On 22 October 2014, the LIN Center for Community Development hosted the closing ceremony for the Community Partnership Initiative (CPI) 2014. Nearly sixty representatives were in attendance, including nonprofit, corporate and volunteer members of the seven competing teams, the CPI support team and panel judges.

The theme for CPI 2014 was "Improving nonprofits' financial sustainability". In May 2014, ten nonprofit organizations were matched with a company or a team of volunteers and given just over four months to help their nonprofit partner build or strengthen their existing approach to generating funds for their respective causes. In October, a panel of experts - comprised of both fundraisers and financial management professionals - reviewed the fundraising strategies of each of the seven remaining teams.

 The top prize was awarded to the ICS-Mash team!

ICS is a community organization dedicated to promoting and protecting LGBT (lesbian – gay - bisexual - transgender) rights in Vietnam. Mash Agency, a member of The Purpose Group, provides digital and direct marketing services to clients throughout Vietnam. Together, they produced an impressive plan and initial fundraising results for ICS, some of which were successfully implemented to support VietPride 2014. Thanks to support from Irish Aid, ICS was awarded VND 40 million, which they can use to improve financial sustainability and thereby strengthen the support they provide to their beneficiaries.

Ms. Nguyen Duc Thuy Anh, a member of the judging panel and a project advisor shared her thoughts on the winning proposal:

"[ICS] fundraising strategy was professional, from the presentation, slogans, text and implementation strategy. Thoughtful detail was evident in every text, every idea! Though the proposed plan is quite expensive, ICS demonstrated that the organization has the capacity to accomplish what they are proposed."

Highlights from the four-month long initiative were shared through a video clip, an interviews with members of different teams. While LIN undertakes a survey and debrief with CPI participants, we would like to share some early results:

  • Over 50 skilled volunteers contributed their time and professional skills to support the work of 10 nonprofit organizations participating in CPI 2014.
  • Over 400 volunteer hours were dedicated to this project, valued at over VND 200 million.
  • By October, seven of the ten teams made it to the end of the competition, each submitting their own fundraising strategy . All together, the teams came up with 21 creative fundraising ideas to test out (and some have already begun).
  • The collaboration between NPOs and Skilled Volunteers will directly benefit more than 500 beneficiaries , including children affected by HIV/AIDs, community members concerned about environmental issues, LGBT and disadvantaged children in Ho Chi Minh City.

During the CPI 2014 Closing Ceremony, team members representing participating nonprofits and skilled volunteers shared their thoughts about the process of cooperation over the previous four months, some even encouraging others to attempt viral fundraising initiatives in the near future.

If you would like to learn more about CPI 2014, please click here.

Are there any HR professionals out there who would like to share their skill sets? CPI 2015 will focus on strengthening the Human Resource management capacity of local nonprofits. If you are interested to form a team or advise LIN on the project, please contact us at: Volunteer@LINvn.org

Links:

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