Skilled Volunteers Help Empower Vietnam Nonprofits

by LIN Center for Community Development
Vetted
NPOs and volunteers meet and connect in CPI event
NPOs and volunteers meet and connect in CPI event

Dear Donors, 

The LIN Center for Community Development would like to express our gratitude for your contributions toward our project titled Skilled Volunteers Help Empower Vietnam Nonprofits on GlobalGiving.org. With your support, we made a difference in the community by implementing three programs that address the project’s objectives:

1. Community Partnership Initiative: An annual, theme-based program that matches companies and skilled professionals in HCMC to local not-for-profit organization (NPO).

  • Outputs: LIN’s Community Partnership Initiative engaged 125 skilled professionals from 60 different companies to improve communications, fundraising, HR management and other professional skills for 36 different nonprofit organizations.
  • Outcome: 36 NPOs, like Ceporer Hoc Mon and Happier, were able to strengthen their capacity to better serve their beneficiaries. The impact of the project was clearly demonstrated by both participating NPOs and volunteer mentors. For example, Ceporer Hoc Mon, an NPO supporting underpriviledged children, winner of the first CPI, and Happier, an NPO providing psychological support to child patients, winner of the second CPI, both reported gaining more public attention and financial support thanks to having a new brand identity and communication strategy coming out of the partnership. On the other hand, volunteer mentors reported having better understanding of the causes and the hard work of organizations addressing those causes. ProSelf, a company participated in CPI on HR management, extended their pro bono work for another year at their NPO partner after the project ended, offering the much needed support to strengthen the organization that provides education and training to visually impaired youth.

2. BlueBees.org website:  LIN launched and now operates the first (and only) web based platform in Vietnam that connects skilled volunteers to short-term volunteer opportunities with local not- for-profit organizations.

  • Outputs:  144 nonprofits and 727 skilled volunteers are registered & 213 volunteer opportunities have been advertised through the website.
  • Outcome: Smaller nonprofits, like VAVA Cu Chi, a nonprofit supporting victims of agent orange and dioxin, can easily access an impressive database of skilled volunteers to support their work.  VAVA Cu Chi was in need of a consultant to develop their program for special education for their beneficiaries. After posting their request on the site, they were able to find a volunteer consultant to help them develop the cirriculum.

3. Mandala Night: Since 2015, LIN hosts regular networking events to raise awareness about skilled volunteerism and to faciliate networking among like-minded people.

  • Outputs: 7 events held, attracting nearly 700 people in total.
  • Outcome:Raised awareness about corporate employee engagement programs, helped orient skilled professionals to the realities of volunteering and connected nonprofits to skilled volunteers. At a Mandala Night event in 24 May 2016, Ms. Huong Truong, CEO of the Minh A Company, was introduced to the Thien An Shelter, which provides vocational training for visually impaired adults. Her company now employs 2 of Thien An Shelter’s past beneficiaries. Watch a video interview of one of her current employees and staff talking about the mutual satisfaction with the arrangement. Include hyperlink: http://jobforblind.com/cong-viec/nguoi-khiem-thi-trong-xuong-lam-thu-bong-74.html

In an effort to streamline our resources and strategic approach, the LIN Team decided to close the Skilled Volunteerism Help Empower Vietnam Nonprofits project on GlobalGiving.org and we would like to ask you to transfer your recurring donations, or continue to support our work through another project on Global Giving: Build A Home for Vietnam NPOsThis project is a consolidated fund that supports LIN’s efforts to accelerate the capacity of nonprofit leaders to address the needs in our community while connecting them to skilled professionals and organizations that share their desire to improve the quality of life for all people in HCMC. We believe that this is the best path after analysis of the current landscape and we hope you will continue to work with us.

We encourage you to learn more about the exciting vision behind Build A Home for Vietnam NPOs:

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/lin-new-year-lights-campaign-bild-a-home-for-npos/

As always, we thank you for your contributions and appreciate your continued support. Progress and development in our community would not be possible without your generosity. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach me, or one of my colleagues at LIN.

Sincerely,

Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Truc

Director of Programs

Volunteers and NPOs speed dating at Mandala Night
Volunteers and NPOs speed dating at Mandala Night

Links:

Employee volunteering: A case by Horizon Capital
Employee volunteering: A case by Horizon Capital

Three staff of Horizon Capital Group joined LIN's Board of Directors and provided critical help to LIN in terms of human resources, finance, legal advice, strategy and so on.

Ms. Ngo Thi Van Nga, representing Horizon Capital Group and Mr. Pham Truong Son, representing LIN, shared their respective experiences with cross-sector collaboration along with over 100 participants at a Mandala Night event hosted by LIN in Ho Chi Minh City in March 2016.

Four key experiences were mentioned:

*How can volunteers balance their career and their volunteer work?

Skilled volunteers can manage their personal work by a job description listing tasks to be done and days needed to complete them. Mr. Son said that he and Horizon's finance team agreed to meet on the last day of every month, with a volunteer present to collect and help LIN with financial management.
A skilled volunteer will always prioritize his/her office job, with volunteer work following in 'out of office hours' or free time. Once a clear commitment is made, volunteers and NPOs can easily cooperate.

*What is the motivation for businesses and volunteers to keep supporting an NPO like LIN?

From her perspective, Ms Nga said it was because they would like to see the development of LIN. In the early days, LIN only had one staff. Now there are 8 full-time employees. In the beginning, LIN needed help across the board and engaged many Horizon staff. Now that LIN is six years old, we engage the Horizon team on a more ad hoc basis, as needed. Horizon was happy to see LIN develop, "It is like you see your bird can fly alone after being taught".
In addition, Mr. Son said the more effective support NPOs received, the better reputation enterprises and volunteers can get. This is what NPOs bring to volunteers and to companies through this kind of coordination.

*Is it better when a business supports only one NPO rather than many NPOs at the same time?

The response to this question was that, it is better to focus on supporting the sustainable development of a particular organization. Once an NPO is stable, the business can seek out other organizations to support, if desired. A business cannot support all NPOs so it is essential to encourage the connectivity experience between businesses and NPOs allowing social issues to be addressed more comprehensively.

*Ms. Yen, from ICS clarified the benefits to NPOs of having support from the business sector:

"In the early days, ICS's employees were not professional which is why we did not know how to work with sponsors. For instance, we did not know that sponsors' logos had to appear at the beginning of the program... When LIN connected ICS with a communications agency, their skilled volunteers made it clear to us how to approach donors as well as how to share our information with partners in a way that could build lasting relationships.

In my opinion, businesses need to consider whether their support can make changes. This is why NPOs should share more information with businesses to make them understand the situation better and so that they may get more motivation out of their volunteer experience."

Links:

With over 187 nonprofit partners in and near Ho Chi Minh City, many are seeking assistance and support to build their capacity in different areas (e.g., communications, fundraising, strategic planning and financial management). By 2013, LIN began an annual survey of our NPO partners, which allows us to observe trends and identify gaps in capacity. One area where a capacity gap became apparent, both through the analysis of 2014 survey report as well as feedback from participants in the Community Partnership Initiative 2014, was human resources management in nonprofits. 

The Community Partnership Initiative 2015 (CPI 2015) focused on addressing the HR management challenges of 10 nonprofit organizations.  Each nonprofit was matched with a company team or a team of 3 to 4 skilled professionals.  Throughout the CPI 2015 program, which started in May 2015 and lasted until November, the LIN team checked-in with participating nonprofits and their respective corporate/volunteer teams. We collected weekly reports from Partners, to track and assess progress towards the milestones and overall objectives.

After the conclusion ceremony and recognition event, the LIN team sent out a feedback form to all program participants, Among the 10 nonprofits that started CPI in May, nine made it to the end of the program, eight responded to LIN’s survey with the following feedback: 

  • 100% said they were pleased with the program and deliverables and
  • 70% said the corporate/volunteer teams considerably improved human resources management in their nonprofit!

When asked what the nonprofit liked most about CPI 2015, the representative of Thien Tam Huong Vocational Training Center for People with Disabilities shared the following: “The professionalism and commitment of the company in terms of: - action planning – plan implementation – skills exchange – objective feedback and expertise!”

LIN also carried out 1-1 meetings with more than half of the participating nonprofits and nine of the corporate volunteers in order to collect more detailed feedback on the program and areas for improvement.  

Summary Results:

  • CPI 2015 attracted a total of 61 skilled volunteers who played the roles of mentors, trainers and/or advisors to the 9 nonprofit organizations, contributing well over 1,600 volunteer hours.
  • Upon completion of the program, 90% of participant NPOs have a written action plan for their Human Resources management, detailing the vision and activities for the next few years.
  • 50% NPOs defined their organizational structure and developed tasks for function departments.
  • All of the NPOs now have job descriptions documented for every existing post in the organization.
  • 50% of the NPOs completed their recruitment system and process with training and induction included. They now have specific objectives and criteria for recruitment, with an emphasis on the organizations' core values.
  • 30% of the NPOs now have a management of productivity system built and documented.
  • Upon completion of the program, four HR pro bono teams decided to continue their partnership with their NPO partners for 2016.

Nonprofit Testimonial:

 “Huong is a wonderful expert both in terms of skills and commitment, she is so much determined and diligent in advising Change. After the mentoring, the most amazing thing left in me was not about having detailed guidelines but how to think, the way  to work, the way to analyse in order to find out the ultimate root of a problem and thus having a suitable solution in that certain situation.

I am so much grateful to Huong, Nhung and Operation Smiles in Hanoi for creating much great environment for me to learn. I am thankful to Thao for her connection, encouragement as well as valuable sharing of administration experience.

I am thankful to Phuc and LIN for this amazing matching program. I hope that NGOs like CHANGE will have more opportunities to join such meaningful program”

-Ms. Ngoc Huynh, Operation Manager – CHANGE

http://vietnamcauses.org/npo/index/center-of-hands-on-actions-and-networking-for-growth-and-environment-change

Links:

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:

On the morning of July 25th, LIN Center for Community Development (LIN) organized a Meet & Greet event for local HR profesisonals and their nonprofit counterparts at Hoa Sen University.  This was the first activity of LIN's 2015 Community Partnership Initiative (CPI) program.

With the focus on "building human resource management capacity for local nonprofit organizations (NPO)", CPI 2015 matched 33 skilled volunteers to 11 NPOs experiencing human resource management challenges. The volunteers represented different institutions, including: Orient Software, GreyFinder, Decathlon, Puratos, Proself, Samsung, Kinh Do Corporation, Operation Smile, TalentNet and more....  Participating NPOs included: Thien Tam Huong, CHUM, Quality of Life Promotion Centre, Breast Cancer Network Vietnam, CEPORER Hoc Mon, CCHS, CHANGE, Huynh Tan Phat, Thien An Shelter, TOMAGO and Thao Dan Center for Street Children.

On 25 July, LIN hosted a "Meet & Greet" session for all of the participants in CPI 2015 - more than 50 people. The session was designed to break the ice and help to build friendly emotional links among the participants.

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"Though this session, I realize how I can feel how someone is feeling.  People who are unfamiliar with these types of experiences tend to have cold hands, while those people who are familiar to these activities, their bodies will be warmer", shared Mr Phu (Thien Tam Huong Organization)

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A company representative said: "Through these exercises, I can see that sometimes language does not express what we want to say. By exchanging eye contact, or by touching hands, we can better express our ideas."

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Ms. Le Thanh Phuc, LIN's Volunteer Coordinator and Manager of CPI 2015 explained that the intention of the session was to remove stereotypes and assumptions, which can prove to be barriers between participants who came from companies and those who representatives of NPOs. People participating in CPI will be better able to understand each other as human beings with emotions and thoughts. This launch event built a foundation for teams to listen, exchange and work together to find solutions for HR challenges within the respective NPOs over the course of 12 weeks.

LIN's CPI program was first launched in 2011 and has since become an annual program. CPI appeals to companies and skilled experts to lend their expertise to help build the capacity of local nonprofits in Ho Chi Minh City, so they can better achieve their objectives for the community. 

Links:

 

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Organization Information

LIN Center for Community Development

Location: Ho Chi Minh City, NA - Vietnam
Website: http:/​/​www.LINvn.org
Project Leader:
Dana Doan
Founder
Ho Chi Minh City, NA Vietnam

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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