New Year Lights Campaign:Build Home 4 Vietnam NPOs

 
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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:

From 13 to 14 November, in Vientiane, Laos, the LIN Center for Community Development participated in a two-day exchange with five Vietnamese grantees of Irish Aid and 25 representatives of Laos non-profit associations. The main objective of the event, designed as a workshop, was 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, Dana Doan presented LIN's experience introducing and testing 10 organizational development toolkits designed to build capacity of Vietnamese NPOs. LIN's counterpart organization in Laos, the Learning House for Development (LHD), presented its own services and approach to capacity building of nonprofit associations (NPAs). Both our organizations were excited to learn how much we shared in common, from mission and methodology to current and planned programs. Like LIN, Learning House for Development offers workshops, meeting room rental, incubator services and research and information sharing services.

LIN benefited from learning about unique support services provided by LHD to its NPA members, such as their one-on-one coaching in financial management; their study scholarship for eligible NPA staff; and their contributions to the Knowledge and Information System (KIS) – a jointly managed website consolidating all job, training and grant opportunities, research, resources and upcoming events that may be of interest to staff of Laos NPAs.

During the workshop, there were two breakout sessions designed to simultaneously promote best practice sharing alongside the identification of areas for possible collaboration. LIN first joined a small group of NPAs to discuss experiences with fundraising, networking and social media. In that discussion it became clear that NPOs and NPAs both struggle to meet the requirements of large international grantmakers and are rather new to networking and building partnerships with local companies and local individuals. We all agreed there was a need to improve access to smaller grants by NPOs and NPAs and to improve communications between donors and prospective grantees to build trust and form relationships.

Throughout the workshop and informal discussions over shared meals, several joint initiatives were proposed. Following the exchange, Irish Aid announced the establishment of a small fund, which is designated to support future exchanges, trainings, needs assessments, technical support and joint thematic studies among Vietnamese NPOs and Laos NPAs.

Although it is not yet confirmed, the LIN team is an exchange visit to HCMC by the leadership team at LHD sometime in March 2015. Given our shared mission and overlapping objectives, the LIN team looks forward to building a strategic partnership with the Learning House for Development so both of our organizations can offer improved support services to our respective communities.

Links:

HSBC Nhan Ai

HSBC Volunteers meet with Nhan Ai Volunteer Group (NPO) & Rio Group (Skilled Volunteers)

As part of LIN's Community Partnership Initiative 2014 (CPI 2014), which is designed to enhance NPO's financial sustainability, HSBC bank in Vietnam organized fove Action Learning training sessions for five NPOs on the 14th, 21st, and 28th of June.

The sessions' agenda focused on solving current obstacles through the Action Learning Method, by channeling the participants' knowledge and experiences into the most effective solution for complicated problems. The "father" of this method, Professor Reginald Revans, explained that Action Learning is asking the appropriate questions at the right moment and coming to action.

With their respective training experience in HSBC Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Viet Anh and Mr. Nguyen Lan alternatively acted as "Coach", and applied the Action Learning method in every meeting. In each session, the NPO played the role of the "Problem Presenter", while eight other members, including HSBC staff and each of the NPO's skilled volunteers, played the role of the "Questioners". There were also observers from other NPOs. Consistent with the Learning by Doing approach, the rule to "only ask; or only answer the previous question" was strictly followed. Solutions to problems of NPOs appeared after each 3-hour meeting, and many paths created to building a better future for the organizations.

HSBC Nhan Ai 2

After using the Action Learning, Mrs. Hong To Hue Lan, head of Ceporer Hoc Mon, said "I have gained insight into some of the practical ways to develop the organization; from writing down all processes and strategies as a social entrepreneur, to recruiting outstanding personnel for administration, and to researching the building path for the social enterprise via Internet and erudite professionals."

Mrs. Le Thi Thu Thuy, director of Thao Dan Child Center, another NPO that joined the Action Learning, can define precisely the essence of their drawbacks. She said, "I believe our financial problem originates from the lack of professionalism in administration. After this training, I will reconstruct the human resource department, standardize evaluation and head towards investing into a business project in the near future."

Meanwhile, volunteers believe that the method is a new problem-solving approach, but the 3-hour-or-more meeting reduces concentration. There are some elements to this method that are far from practice and is a gap that needs closing through positive thinking and a "change-daring" spirit. However, its impacts are undeniably effective. From the participants' contribution, NPOs can start removing current barriers and start witnessing the upcoming changes towards a better direction.

Links:

Checking out NPO Brochure @ LIN Community Center
Checking out NPO Brochure @ LIN Community Center
NPO Morning Coffee

On the 23rd of April 2014, LIN shared a coffee with 15 representatives of nonprofit organizations to talk about "Governance", a fairly new topic in the development of Vietnamese nonprofit organizations. Ms. Elizabeth Pham, Director of Consulting at LIN started the event by introducing the concept. After the brief introduction, each member shared the different ways they think about and apply governance to their own organizations.

It became clear that local nonprofits organizations remain challenged by the establishment and management of a true governing Board/Council. Many organizations do not yet see the importance of having a governing board or how it can help to direct the mission and strategy of their organization.

"After this meeting, we understand more about the practical experience as well as current governance practices of our nonprofit partners," noted Mr. Son Pham, LIN's Deputy Director.  He added, "LIN is about to introduce our next Toolkit, which focuses on Governance and Law for small nonprofits which should help these organizations better understand the importance of governance and how to apply it to their organizations."

NPO Leadership Circle

On the 25th of April 2014, 15 nonprofit organizational leaders took part in a sharing session on the subject "How to work with difficult staff" presented by Mrs. Hông Vân Nguyên, Associate Director of Nam Viêt Thuan Company.

Mrs. Hông Vân used the theory of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to explain relationships within a organization, which highlights the importance of understanding differences in individuals. One of our NPO leaders decided to play the role of the non-cooperative participant. Although LIN and the speaker were not made aware of this individual's plan, Mrs. Hông Vân managed the situation well and provided a good example of how to react in such a situation. "It was an interesting sharing session; it fully enlightened me of new knowledge and perspective," said Mr. Hung Trân, Tinh Than Programe. He added, "I think LIN should invite Mrs. Hông Vân to possibly make a training session related to NLP one day so that participants can be educated on this theory. The sharing session helped me understand the role of the leader in an organization."

 

NPOs in Hanoi and HCMC meet to discuss the Law on Associations and the Law on Access to Information

On 9 May, the LIN Community Center made it possible for five HCMC based nonprofits to join, via teleconference, the People's Participation Working Group Meeting (in Hanoi), which was organized to assemble nonprofit organizations and individuals interested to learn about how they can contribute to an upcoming National Assembly review of the Law on Associations and the Law on the Access to Information.

At the end of the seminar, two working groups were established, one to focus on each law. Both groups confirmed that the key goal of this process is to mobilize people's input on the draft revisions revisions to both laws and ensure that this input is included in the legislative program from 2015 to 2016. NPOs from HCMC agreed to support the working group that is focusing on the Law on Associations.  The seminar formed the foundation for an open forum for individuals and organizations that are interested in the two laws to provide their input.

 

Introducing the new and improved LIN website 

After one year, long hours, late nights, brainstorms, debates and discussions, we are thrilled to announce the launch of a new and improved version of the LIN website.

When you visit the new website, we hope you may take a few minutes to complete our new website survey to share your feedback, positive and/or constructive. Change is not always easy, particularly for LIN's friends and partners who used the old LIN website. So, please do not hesitate to let us know if you cannot find something or if you think we should add something to the new site. It is our goal for the website to be as user friendly and informative as possible. We hope you like it!

HCMC NPOs Join the PPWG Mtg via Skype
HCMC NPOs Join the PPWG Mtg via Skype
LIN
LIN's New Website

Links:

Lunar New Year Greeting
Lunar New Year Greeting

Thank you for helping to build a stronger community in and around Ho Chi Minh City!

With your support and encouragement, the LIN Center for Community Development was able to exceed our targets for 2013. Here are some of the highlights from 2013:

  • www.VietnamCauses.org - Launched in Q4, this website details 70+ nonprofits, searchable by name, cause & location (and we are working to get all of the nonprofit pages translated into English by the end of this month)
  • Over 225 local nonprofit staff received pro bono support services from LIN and those services indirectly benefited over 96,000 people in Vietnam.
  • 17 Nonprofits joined LIN, for a new total of 121 NPO Partners.
  • 293 volunteers were engaged by LIN (94 Skilled Volunteers served 50 NPOs directly, 31 Skilled Volunteers were Trainers/Speakers and 168 Volunteers supported LIN programs) contributing over 10,577 volunteer hours, valued at over USD $240,000.
  • LIN Community Center hosted 4 developing nonprofit organizations in our Incubator.
  • 16 workshops helped to build the capacity of local nonprofit staff.
  • Narrow the Gap Community Fund received USD $26,666 and disbursed 11 grants valued at USD $24,380.
  • 7 "Do-It-Yourself" toolkits to guide start-up and developing nonprofits in operational best practices. (Click here to download a toolkit in Vietnamese)
  • 700 customers came to at least one of 12 SecondChanceStore events generating over USD 3,600 in donations to LIN activities.
  • 423 donors to LIN (including cash and in-kind).
  • 98% of NPO partners reported that LIN's services resulted in positive organizational impact!

Read more about our achievements by downloading LIN's 2013 Annual Report (click here to download).

Our success in 2013 was only possible because of your support during the New Year Lights Campaign, which took place at this same time last year. I hope that you will be proud of what we accomplished with your help.  If you have any suggestions for improvement, we would love to hear from you!

May the year of the horse give us all the humility to see the world as it is, and the audacity to imagine the world as it should be.  The LIN team wishes you all peace, love and kindess in 2014.

 

Note: We are thrilled to announce that Ernst & Young Vietnam agreed to provide a pro bono audit of LIN's 2013 financial statements. E&Y's audit of our 2012 financial statements is already posted on the LIN website (click here). E&Y will begin working on our 2013 audit this April and hope to have the report back to us by late May.  

Links:

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Organization

Project Leader

Dana Doan

Founder
Ho Chi Minh City, N/A Vietnam

Where is this project located?

Map of New Year Lights Campaign:Build Home 4 Vietnam NPOs