Build Home for Vietnam NPOs

by LIN Center for Community Development
Ms. Yen (first row, left) and the young leaders
Ms. Yen (first row, left) and the young leaders

The prolonged rain in the morning of 8th October 2016 couldn’t stop 13 young leaders in LIN’s 2016 Leadership Circle from making their way to the office of Disability Research and Capacity Development (DRD). It was weekend and the venue was far from city center. However, everybody was excited for what’s waiting for them: a talk with one of the most inspiring nonprofit leaders in Vietnam.

Welcoming them to the meeting was Ms. Vo Hoang Yen, the founder of DRD. Ms. Yen started by asking the group questions about them and the organizations that they founded. These questions are also the ones that she struggled with in the early days of DRD:

-          What are the things that drive you to address these certain issues?

-          What are the biggest challenges for you?

-          How to overcome these challenges?

The 13 individuals have different things driving them to establish their organizations, but all have the same objective of building a better community. There are many different challenges facing the young leaders, but those that came up the most are human resources and social systems.

Ms. Yen replied by sharing her advice and experiences on how to drive the organizations forward and how to manage the operations of not-for-profit organizations, from grant application, understanding beneficiaries to managing the stress of being the leader and other academic insights. Some lessons are especially valuable for young leaders, such as:

-       The leaders should not try to do the impossible. Focus on solving the problems at hand.

-       A good leader behaves aptly in different situations while staying true to his or her core values.

-       Idea is what makes the difference and leads the change in this society.

-       Collaborate when necessary

-       Stay updated with international information.

At the end of the meeting, Ms. Yen suggested the 2016 Leadership Circle group work together in the Social Work for the Youth project. Mr. Pham Truong Son, Deputy Director of LIN, along with Ms. Yen will be their mentors in implementing the project. The sharing session ended with every one having lunch together at a café near DRD office.

Thanks to the inspirational meeting, the young leaders received a boost in their enthusiasm and gained deeper insights into the activities of non-profit organizations. "After meeting with Ms Yen, I found the answer for one of my difficulties while working at my organization, which is what I should do when the beneficiaries refuse help from an NPO," said Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Hien, Project Manager of Children Smiles. "The answer is very simple, and I had one for my own, but after I listen to Ms. Yen, with her experience, I am confident in what I am doing. I personally appreciate her sharing about the path she has experienced since it is impressive and helps me reflect on my approach at my NPO."

Chi Doan (middle) at the training with Dee Koch
Chi Doan (middle) at the training with Dee Koch

On July 2nd, 14 members of the NPO Leadership Circle attended a training on leadership for young leaders with Ms Dee Koch, Partnership Relations Director of The George Foundation Organization. She has worked with non-profits in fundraising and building partner capacity for 27 years.

Mr Chi Doan, the leader of the HCMC bus organization, shares what he learned from the training with us: 

“I have always considered group conflict, personal mistakes and the missteps of  others’  as terrible things. I have to fight this tendency because of its adverse affect on both my personal and group work.

However, if individuals accept the reality and reasons of conflict, they will be more open to solve problems together. The important thing I learned from Ms Dee with is consensus. A leader has to inspire their employees by their confidence and their polite attitude in order to reach consensus within the group.

According to Ms Koch, there are two main methods to resolve conflict:

Leader confidence, bravery, positive attitude and compassion

A leader must be positive and inspiring through his confidence and bravery but also compassionate when dealing with other people’s fault.

These qualities help a leader not only guide  members to achieve their goals but also ignore their egos and personal interests for the common benefit of the group.

Remove barriers between members and the leader through  games

Group games allow members and the leader to understand each other more fully. They include answering a random funny questions in a box,  a game Ms Dee played with Leadership Cirlce 2016’s members in the meeting.

I learned a lot of useful knowledge and effective teamwork methods from Ms. Koch’s experience and skills and  realized that: accepting mistakes and resolving conflicts are popular challenges for young leaders. The key to success is accepting potential risks in every activity. And leaders have to be ready to get out of their own comfort zone to achieve their goal.

As a trainer, Ms. Dee Koch was inspired by the participation of the leaders. “Thank you for providing such a great session with the Young Leaders," she says. "I feel so invigorated from sharing with the group. You are doing such a great job of building their pathway to a great future. This opportunity/experience you have shared with me will be a great memory I take with me from Ho Chi Minh City. The memory will bring a smile to my face each time it is recalled.” 

I. Sharing the Guidelines on Ethical Practices in Fundraising for Vietnam

Last month, the LIN Center for Community Development was pleased to disseminate the Guidelines on Ethical Principles in Fundraising in Vietnam.  The document was adapted from the Association of Fundraising Professional's International Code of Ethical Practices in Fundraising to be compliant with Vietnam laws and acceptable to Vietnamese not-for-profit organizations. 

The Guidelines are intended to foster the growth of a community of not-for-profit organizations operating in Vietnam that participate in fundraising and are dedicated to accountability, transparency and effectiveness. Both the Vietnamese and English versions are available for download from the LIN Center for Community Development website. They are also (or will soon be) posted on several other websites of INGOs, local nonprofits and umbrella organizations in Vietnam (including the VUFO-NGO Resource Centre,, Mekong Plus, etc).

The effort to adapt and translate the guidelines involved many individuals and organizations engaged in fundraising that generously volunteered their time, skills and experience. Draft versions of the guidelines were shared with INGOs and local nonprofits at meetings, workshops and via email in order to solicit feedback and suggestions for improvement.  A complete list of contributors is detailed in the appendix. We would like to express particular appreciation to KPMG, Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers, YKVN, Mr. Bernard Kervyn from Mekong Plus, Ms. Lam Quynh Anh from Hogal Lovells, Ms. Nguyen Phuong Linh from MSD and Ms. Pham Thi Bao Chinh (freelance consultant) for taking the time to provide detailed feedback on early drafts. 

We would welcome and appreciate any comments and suggestions for improvement to the Guidelines, which can be sent to the core team at:

The Core Team: 

  • Ceporer Hoc Mon 
  • Disability Research and Capacity Development
  • ICS
  • LIN Center for Community Development
  • Saigon Children's Charity
  • Ms. Nguyen Phuong Anh (freelance consultant)


II. LIN Annual Report 2015

The LIN Team is pleased to share with you our Annual Report for 2015. Please click on one of the links below to download a copy of the report:



We hope the report gives you a comprehensive picture about LIN and the work we delivered to the community, with your valuable partnership and support, in 2015. LIN team is currently working with Ernst & Young Vietnam to complete our 2015 audited financial report.  Upon completion, the report will be uploaded to LIN's website.  In addition, we are monitoring the impact of our work on local nonprofits, through a yearly suvey of our nonprofit partners. You can read the results of the 2015 survey at the following link: (LIN's audited financial statements will later be uploaded to this page as well).


III.  LIN Donor Survey 2016

How can LIN serve you better?

As a past donor to the LIN Center for Community Development, your opinion is extremely important.  Which programs do you find to be the most or least helpful?  Do our reports and updates provide the information you expected?   

Please click here to complete LIN's online donor survey.

The survey will take about 5 minutes and all answers will be kept strictly confidential.  Your feedback will be used to help decide LIN's future direction. 

Thank you, in advance, for telling us what you think about our work!


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 ( 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


Photo Booth at NTG Event
Photo Booth at NTG Event

Earlier this year, LIN launched the NPO Young Leaders Circle to facilitate peer mentorship and support to the leaders of developing, grassroots nonprofit organizations. Members of LIN's NPO Young Leaders Circle were encouraged to join LIN's Annual Narrow the Gap Community Event: Take Action for the Environment, which took place on 26 September 2015 at the HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities.  Each member was given the following three objectives:

  1. Make at least ten new relationships that they did not have previously;
  2. Share five things they learned or experienced during the event; and
  3. Introduce their organization/project to at least three people at the event.

After the event, Ms. Phun Cam Linh, representative of Smile Group and a member of the NPO Young Leaders Circle, shared her experiences with the LIN team and other members:

"During my time at LIN's Narrow the Gap Event, I not only visited the booths of LIN's partners but I also learned about the three project finalists and many other activities of supporting partners and event sponsors.

By being asked to look more carefully at these events, I could see that behind these activities are various ideas about communication that can be useful for my own organization and others. For me, participating in this event gave me an opportunity to learn and know more about different ways of communicating, building the reputation and offering a unique impression of an organization to the community and to various participants.

People used many well-known ways of communicating, such as: brochures, banners, posters, uniform T-shirts, business cards, and more...   In addition, there were creative forms of communication that some people and organizations used to demonstrate effectiveness and spread their image.

For example, look at the way two corporate sponsors spread messages:

  • Lois Garden – Besides their booth for teaching gardening and selling plants, they also hosted a photo booth that displayed many plants and engaged people to come take pictures and make a commitment to protect the environment. The booth provided a lovely background that was suitable to the event's theme of environment. And it was a subtle way to make people aware of their garden and leave an impression. Below the plans, there was a simple banner, "We are LOIS GARDEN".  For every person that posted a photo of themselve in the both, their friends would see this message and may be attracted to come to LOIS GARDEN.
  • Prudential – Prudential company sponsored the photo booth as well.  [For every photo taken in the booth and shared on Facebook, Prudential agreed to donate money to the Narrow the Gap Fund for the Environment.] This was made clear in the way the sponsor applied Prudential stickers to each of the environmental actions people could choose to hold up in their photo as a way of making a commitment to protect the environment. By the stickers on the messages and by the Facebook campaign, the company could promote its branch and activities supporting the community.

Beside the corporate sponsors, I could see how nonprofit organizations' communicate, especially the three finalists for a grant. For example:

  • ECO Vietnam Group – This nonprofit made great use of its human resources, in particular their volunteers, who walked around wearing bright yellow T-shirts and some of whom wore a small board with colorful pictures and messages to request support. The actions attracted people's attention. Besides, they also communicated with people through real stories, products and examples. This kind of communication was impressive, and gave them a significant advantage to attract people's first impression and create curiousity to learn more about the organization.
  • Deaf Community of HCMC (DCOH) – Similar to ECO Vietnam Group, DCOH had all of its team and members wearing a uniform with the logo of the organization on it.  They also engaged their members to giving out cards and creating a painting by people's fingerprints.  In addition, DCOH members put stickers with their logo on it onto the shirts of event guests, which was an effective way for the deaf community members to communicate that they wanted their votes. 

And there were many other organizations communicating in their own way.

LIN's Narrow the Gap Community Event provided a diverse environment for meeting and connecting people working in many fields who are all similarly concerned about the "Environment". At the event, people could meet friends (new and old); learn about environment and vote for the best project to support this year.  The event also gave me a good idea about the diversity of communication methods. I wonder, which communication method does your organization apply to communicate information and leave a unique impression?"


The NPO Young Leaders Circle was launched in May 2015 with 15 members from LIN's NPO partners. Nine members are female and all members are between the ages of 21 to 35 with the average age of 26 years old. 15 members were divided into four groups and made responsible for one of four activities: (1) Communications, (2) External Networking, (3) Peer Sharing and (4) Training.  LIN coordinates the events and helps each team plan and execute elevent activities per year.  The next activity of the NPO Young Leader's Circle is a peer sharing, which will take place on October 24, 2015 at LIN Community Center. During the meeting, young leaders will have an opportunity to exchange experiences and challenges they are facing in their work. 



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Organization Information

LIN Center for Community Development

Location: Ho Chi Minh City, NA - Vietnam
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Dana Doan
Ho Chi Minh City, -- Vietnam
$1,701 raised of $5,000 goal
43 donations
$3,299 to go
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