文/Joyce@ WWF- Hong Kong
Fundraising always be a challenge to a charity, especially for the small one who has relatively low awareness (recall) among public. Recently, we have over ten thousand NGO/NPOs inTaiwan. Similar situation happened in HongKong, the much smaller island.
Sometimes, the “green organizations” complained that citizens prefer to donate to Humanitarian organizations for a specific urgent issue (ex. Nature disaster, war, and etc.) and just skip (ignore) the environment saving needs. It’s difficult to get the donation, even from the people who claim environment protection/ friendly is important. Mn… I see quite different stories in Hong Kong…
Here (Hong Kong), I see lot of events and communications to promote “Green”.Lotof free newspapers (from various news companies) provided in MTR stations but you rarely found the waste in public area. People read newspaper in train and always leave it in a specific collection box. The wasted newspaper will been recycled to produce “recycled newspaper pencil” and been listed in charity shop. People WILL to buy green product as long as the price is not too high (not significantly higher than normal product), the issue here for green product is all about “distribution” (availability in different channel).
So, the question is why HongKong citizens will to behave green and support green concept via purchasing green product (that also will be part of the “income” for green groups)? The answer may (according to my observation in 3 week, the very short time here) be 1) HongKong citizens aware the importance of support green and behave green, 2) people realize it’s not difficult to behave green (just need to follow few simple principle), 3) they have high confidence and trust-level on green groups who initiate the green behavior as well as the green ideas, and 4) the last but not least, they feel it’s cool and trendy to live LOHAS and behave Green.
I have the impression that HongKong is the place where allows much more “Gray area”. It seems that people here tend to believe the reality full with lot of white, black, as well as gray. Corporations are not necessary evil, and sometimes they can be good supporters to make the world better. In HongKong, many international companies (especially banks and insurance companies) support Green projects to build up “Charity” image for the companies. A relatively smoothly relationship between corporations and charity groups maintained here (compare toTaiwan, according to my personal feeling). Corporations finance charity to promote (communicate) Green issue as well as the action required. Citizens see the HOPE of solving problem while aware the issues. Conveying bad message is not the purpose anymore (facts sometimes are scaring…), simple actions required is.
I see different “propositions” among Green Groups in HongKong as well. Some groups perceived as “very aggressive” fighters and some perceived (positioned) as problem solvers. The fighters initiate activities to STOP damage while problem solvers propose solution to reduce the impact and better the environment. That is (kind of) a good combination that satisfies the environment protection needs, from citizens’ point of views. Charities (again) convey the actions, initiatives, solutions, or even results they achieved to public to build up the credential and good reputation among citizens.
As long as citizens aware issue, action required (must be simple), and trust the action initiators, mostly they will to participant and support the action. Many big and fun events held in holidays and the participation rate are unbelievable high (ex. Over 7,200 participants for event “Walk for Nature” this year). Charities here demonstrate the fact that charity event can be fun but still meaningful if they have a clear objective, consistent message, and planned based on “consumer insight”. A fun and big event drives the attention (media & word-mouth) as well as secures the supporting rate. Many citizens become a long-term or even a loyal member after they participate the event. They then having the chance to further understand the organization, support projects, and spread the message to others. And, I have to say, a big group of supporters can normally bring even more solid confidence (trust) level on the organization and the projects they initiate. It’s a cycle, in a very positive way!
And then, maintain attractiveness and loyalty are the next critical challenges.
Almost all big Charities have their “activity” calendar. That doesn’t mean charities have to hold events frequently, but a regular communication or news update (could be in membership base, not necessary be on public media) is a must. It’s not just because of the regular contact can keep reminding members to support or donate, the news update can also help members to understand the most recently issue (as issues happens everyday….) and to take necessary action on time (that required a solution/ suggestion raised by Green organizations). People also tend to believe an organization they “monitor” and publish news everyday as this may be the only way they can “feel” the organization is still running…… Anyhow, it is work for the people who have short attention and memory, like me.
Of course, the regular news update can not improve the loyalty level if the organization doesn’t effort on establishing a professional/ outstanding reputation. An outstanding reputation normally requires the unique and very professional proposition and specialty. A problem solver needs to communicate solutions that provided or initiated by the organization. While an aggressive stopper needs to publish the actions they taken (sometimes can be the negotiation process update or some stories sharing). This requires certain man-power and time (or even money) spend. However, a responsibly charity shall see this as a duty since this is how citizens judge their (charity) credibility and profession. From my humble opinion, “marketing” also plays an important role to a charity as it sometimes need to strive for the limited resource (or attention) from the society. A charity can be an efficient, professional, organized, systematically, and still be very virtuous organization. As long as the charity stand for it’s believe and always behave well.
Not sure whether this is the answer. I certainly would like to explore the true story in the coming 9 months, for sure!