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.
Mar 4, 2016

Interrim Update from ECO-Vietnam Group

HPDE Biogas System Installation
HPDE Biogas System Installation

We recently received a project update from ECO Vietnam Group, the team behind the project “For our Environment," which received a grant of VND 150,000,000 (about USD $7,500) from Narrow the Gap Community Fund late last year thanks to your support... 

The project installed 2 biogas systems for people in Ben Tre Province and completed draft communication materials (video clip and documents) on how to use the system.

The project unfortunately did not receive promised support from the local authority (as initially plan) to help with providing orientation and encourage local people to use the new biogas system. ECO-Vietnam Group reported that there was a big change in the management personnel of the local authority who preferred traditional materials and was not ready to accept the use of HPDE. As a result, the local people were not enthusiastic to use the new biogas systems and unwilling to co-finance 30% of the value of the system. As a result of this situation, ECO Vietnam Group would like to request to change the project location.

ECO Vietnam Group has experience carrying out several projects and a preliminary need assessment in Long Duc, Phong Phu and Hoa An Communes in the Cau Ke District of Tra Vinh Province. The local authorities in Cau Ke District were supportive, open and willing to help conduct training on how to use the system for the local people. ECO Vietnam Group therefore proposed to transfer the remaining activities of their project over to Tra Vinh Province. The proposal was reviewed and approved by two thirds of the members of the Narrow the Gap Grant Allocation Committee. ECO-Vietnam Group proposed to conduct a deeper needs assessment of the target beneficiaries and sign a written collaboration agreement with the local authority prior to further actions.

ECO-Vietnam Group intends to send updates on the needs assessment to LIN so we can share with everyone that contributed to the Narrow the Gap campaign for the Environment.

Stay tuned for more updates from ECO Vietnam Group!

***

Du án “Vì Môi Truong” (http://bit.ly/1Q39sMQ) cua ECO Vietnam Group (EVG) (uoc tài tro 150,000,000 VN): Du án ã lap at 2 túi biogas cho nguoi dân o Ben Tre, hoàn thành ban nháp các an pham truyen thông tuyên truyen ve cách su dung he thong bang video clip và van ban.

Tuy nhiên, du án cho biet không nhan uoc su ung ho cua chính quyen ia phuong (nhu ke hoach ban au) trong viec ho tro các khóa tap huan gioi thieu cách su dung he thong biogas cho nguoi dân. EVG cho biet có su thay oi lon ve mat nhân su trong thành phan quan lý cua chính quyen ia phuong, nhung nhân su moi này không nhìn nhan nhung uu iem cua vat lieu HPDE mà van muon su dung vat lieu truyen thong. Do ó, nguoi dân noi ây không man mà en túi biogas và khien cho ke hoach moi nguoi dân se óng góp 30% tien cua túi không dien ra úng.

Voi tình hình không uoc ung ho tu chính quyen và dan theo là các ho dân, EVG buoc phai chuyen ia bàn du án. EVG có kinh nghiem thuc hien du án và ã tien hành tien tram khao sát nhu cau tai xã Long uc, Phong Phú, Hòa Ân, - huyen Cau Kè - tinh Trà Vinh. Ket qua so bo cho thay chính quyen ia phuong noi ây het lòng ho tro và san sàng ong hành voi du án tuyên truyen cho bà con. EVG do ó ã e xuat chuyen ia iem thuc hien du án sang Trà Vinh và uoc 2/3 ban giám khao cong ong chap thuan. Hien nay ho ang thuc hien ánh giá nhu cau cua oi tuong thu huong tiem nang và chuan bi ký ket thoa thuan hop tác voi chính quyen ia phuong. EVG se cap nhat voi LIN ve ket qua cua nhung ánh giá này.

HPDE Biogas System
HPDE Biogas System

Links:

Jan 29, 2016

Guidelines for Ethics in Fundraising in Vietnam

Panel Members
Panel Members

On January 12th, at Hoa Sen University, the LIN Center helped to organize and facilitate the workshop, "Successful Fundraising - Working toward International Ethical Standards".  The workshop was organized, in part, to share and solicit input from representatives of the nonprofit sector in Ho Chi Minh City on the first draft of a code of conduct for fundraising professionals in Vietnam.

The draft was prepared by a volunteer consortium of fundraising profesionals, representing both local and international nonprofit organizations in Vietnam, who came together in 2015 for the purpose of adapting the International Statement of Ethical Principles in Fundraising (http://www.afpnet.org/Ethics/IntlArticleDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=3681) to the context and needs of nonprofits in Vietnam. The purpose of developing a "Statement of Ethical Principles in Fundraising in Vietnam" was to unify the fundraising community in Vietnam - those who are dedicated to accountability, transparency and effectiveness - behind a single universal declaration of fundamental principles. It was also designed to foster public trust in the nonprofit sector while discouraging personal gain at the expense of donors and stakeholders.

During the half-day workshop, three members of the consortium joined a panel to discuss their experiences with fundraising: LIN's Founder and Strategic Advisor - Mrs. Dana R.H. Doan, the Director of Saigon Children's Charity - Mr. Tim Mullett and the Director of ICS Center - Mr. Tran Khac Tung. The panel was moderated by a fourth member of the consortium, Ms. Nguyen Phuong Anh who is a freelance consultant and local fundraising expert.  

The workshop began with a question from the moderator to all three panelists: "How did your organization build relationships with donors?". Equality, openness and proactive sharing of information was the common position of representatives from the three organizations on the panel.  Mr. Tim Mullett, said that SCC built relationships based on common interests between SCC and its donors. "It is important to understand," he explained, "the needs of our partners." He went on to explain some differences between individual donors and corporate donors, such as the common practice of individuals to give based on emotion, while companies would likely base their decision on information. "In addition," Tim added, "the current trend of businesses is to request opportunities for their employees to participate in activities of the project they are funding."

Mr. Tran Khac Tung, Director of ICS Centre similary shared that he looks for a mutual benefit when considering a partnership with a donor. ICS donors are invited to join their events and activities and visit the office to understand each other better. By understanding the needs of the business, and vice-a-versa, nonprofits are better able to build appropriate relationships.

Ms. Dana Doan, shared LIN's experience raising funds when the organization was just getting started and unknown in the community.  "Since we did not have a track record, we had to establish our credibility. One way we would do that was to prepare and present a thoughtful and comprehensive project proposal, including a clear and detaild budget that was reasonable and directly related to the proposed activities. A logical proposal and clear budget helps to build confidence in a donor that your organization knows what it is doing and has the capacity to get it done."

Workshop participants were interested to learn strategies for retaining donors. On this question, Ms. Doan shared that donor retention requires effective communications and database management. After more than five years in operation, LIN recently transitioned from an Excel database to a cloud based CRM system.  Dana explained, "As LIN increased its number of donors, we began to have difficulty keeping in contact with each of our donors.  It was at that point that we recognized the need to develop a more robust database management system."  With support from a skilled volunteer, LIN was able to move its donor data to a CRM (client relationship managment) system, which helps small organizations better manage information and recognize donors in a more timely and effective manner. CRM systems can also sync with email marketing platforms to enhance communications.

Tim Mullet added the experience of SCC: "NPOs should not reply soley on email or social networking channels to communicate with donors. Rather, there needs to be a more personal approach."  Tim explained that there are many reasons why a person might ignore or miss an mail. Whereas, he added, "a telephone call or meeting can help the organization maintain contact and better understand a donor's needs."

On keeping in touch with donors, Mr. Tran Khac Tung said that ICS team strives to answer all donor inquiries within 24 hours. That direct and prompt contact with donors keeps ICS actively updated on the needs and interests of donors while keeping donors actively updated on what ICS has done. This type of relationship also helps ICS to stay on top of all viable funding opportunities that comes their way.

In response to Ms. Phuong Anh's question, "How do NPOs build transparency in fundraising activities?". Mr. Tran Khac Tung acknowledging the importance of transparency in building the confidence of current and potential external partners, said that a regular flow of information between donors and NPOs and among employees within the organization is important. Good information flow, he explained, "helps build strength and credibility to the organization."

For SCC, Mr. Tim Mullet talked about the importance of maintaining a transparent budget. Similar to ICS, SCC is open to all inquiries from donors during project implementation. He also recommended the establishment of a Board of Trustees, consisting of advisors who help ensure that the organization implements policies of transparency in their operations.

In reflecting upon LIN's own experience, Ms. Dana Doan shared that "not everyone has the experience or natural instinct to know what is the right thing or what is the wrong thing to do when it comes to building relationships with current and prospective partners." For this reason, prior to legal establishment, LIN developed an internal code of conduct with policies relating to procurement and gift acceptance, including gifts in kind. The LIN team appreciated having that guidance written, in black and white.  "In addition," she added, "our sponsors and partners seem to appreciate the fact that we engage an external organization to conduct an audit of our annual financial statements." Such reports should always be made publicly available, for example on the website of your organization, she recommended.

After the panel sharing, the panelists joined participants to review and discuss the draft "Statement of Ethical Principles in Fundraising in Vietnam".  Five groups discussed different sections of the code and reproted back their questions, concerns and recommendations for improvement. One of the recommendations made was to establish a working group or network of fundraising professionals in HCMC.

Over the next month, the consortium plans to edit the draft Statement, incorporating the comments and suggestions that were shared during the workshop and then send the statement to other stakeholders (e.g., auditors, government, donors) for a final round of review and inputs. We hope to finalize the statement before the end of June 2016 for broad dissemination.

Participants at the Workshop on 12 Jan2015
Participants at the Workshop on 12 Jan2015
Q&A with Workshop Participants
Q&A with Workshop Participants

Links:

Dec 21, 2015

From Compassion to Action

Keynote Speaker - Mdm. Ton Nu Thi Ninh
Keynote Speaker - Mdm. Ton Nu Thi Ninh

On 14 November, LIN organized the event, "From Compassion to Action", which honored 40 Human Resource Management professionals who supported nine NPOs through the Community Partnership Initiative (CPI) program in 2015. The event took place on the morning of the 14th November at the Institute of Cultural Exchange with France (IDECAF).

Former Diplomat Mdm. Ton Nu Thi Ninh, was the special guest and keynote speaker for the event. In her remarks, she stressed that money is not the main answer in humanitarian work and that humanitarianism is not simply about giving... .

"I think over the concept of give and take, and I prefer that we use the concept of sharing. When we talk about giving and receiving, although it is correct that this is a two-way process, reciprocity, the word "give" comes across as though it is an action of a superior, someone who has the upper hand; while the receiver is viewed as being inferior, as if they are in a weaker position... Instead, we can use the concept of sharing, which is a more empowering concept." shared Madame Ton Nu Thi Ninh.

“From Compassion to Action” was the culminating event for the CPI 2015, which launched in July. The first prize to the most efficient team, in terms of operations, was awarded to the team of ProSelf and Thien An Shelter. The second prize to the most supportive volunteer group was awarded to a team of skilled volunteers who partnered with the Breast Cancer Network of Vietnam. The NPOs in both teams each received a small grant to support continued HR improvements (VND 40 million and VND 30 million respectively).

Following the event, Ms. Fiammetta Mancini, UNV Programme Officer in Vietnam, shared her views on the CPI program and volunteerism in Vietnam:

“As a global advocate for the recognition of volunteerism, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Vietnam would like to show appreciation to the skilled volunteers who have contributed their time and expertise to support local NPOs within LIN Center’s Community Partnership Initiative (CPI), as well as encourage those who are considering volunteering for the first time or will continue volunteering following the “From Compassion to Action” Event organized by LIN Center on 14th November.

The CPI is indeed an example of how everyone can play a role in the healthy growth of our communities, and thus our countries, and of how volunteering can become part of a lifestyle.

UNV, present in Vietnam since 1990, and LIN Center have now been collaborating for several years, as UNV supports the cause of LIN Center in providing a valuable platform for volunteering in Ho Chi Minh City, and we commend their efforts in strengthening communities through volunteerism. Such efforts are even more needed in the new era of Sustainable Development, which has just started with the adoption on the Sustainable Development Goals to guide us in the achievement of more equitable and sustainable societies by 2030. This new set of common goals, established through an extensive and inclusive process of consultations, is very ambitious and comprehensive, ranging from the eradication of poverty, to quality education for all, gender equality, taking urgent action to combat climate change, promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, and other important areas, with the underpinning principle of “leaving no one behind”.

If we count exclusively on government policy, private and public investment to make things happen, we probably will not have enough resources to reach everybody. You cannot ensure we leave no one behind without volunteers. It is in this context of enhanced commitment to work together towards shared goals of Sustainable Development that I congratulate LIN Center and all the skilled volunteers for the good work side by side with NPOs who are striving to improve communities. With my best wishes and the hope to hear more stories of skilled volunteers in Vietnam”.

***

Reflections from a CPI 2015 Volunteer, Ms. Nguyen Thanh Nga  

On July 2015, thanks to LIN, our Decathlon group matched with Thien Tâm Huong, an NPO (not-for-profit organization). This is the first time we participated in the event as skilled volunteers.

At first, we learned that three months preparing for this program was a long time compared to other social works that only took place in the course of one day. However, after starting the work with Thien Tam Huong, we realized that three months was not long enough. While some charity or social works such as blood donation or cleaning up offers immediate results, this project took an entire process to get to that point.

After our very first experience cooperating with LIN, we recognized that this is a very meaningful activity indeed.

Though it took time to get real results, we realized that if NPOs themselves figure out and solve their own problems, this self-actualization will help them improve their capacity in the process. In some cases, this program helped to raise awareness and that in itself has very long term effect on developing organizations.

We are worried about NPOs nowadays that first started out as a small size organization with a great mission for the entire community yet often times have a shortage of resources to implement their programs and activities. When these same NPOs have transitioned to a bigger scale, many new problems may arise particularly with management and team capacity. Will their NPOs’ leaders have strong enough visions to change, adapt or transition to new leadership when new situations or challenges arise?

As volunteers, we have learned a lot of things while consulting for NPOs. Besides understanding more about different activity models, we realized there are many communities’ values that were aimed by various NPOs’ activities. We also learned how to work more flexibly in order to adapt to our NPO partner’s individual challenges and realities.

Above all, we were very happy when our partner received their achievements. That is one of the many ways for us to contribute back to the community.

BCNV & Volunteer Reps Share Their Experience
BCNV & Volunteer Reps Share Their Experience
Participants at "From Compassion to Action"
Participants at "From Compassion to Action"

Links:

 
   

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