'Charity' Money - Cause vs. Creative fundraising
I would like to share the following extracts from one write-up published in SALT magazine issue no. 2 -
"The Missing Hand of Adam Smith" written by Mr Willie Cheng, Chairman of National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre.
"It is possible to have over-funded NPOs with more money than they need, and which can end up being splurged on peripherals.
On the other hand, we could have NPOs serving critical community needs which are unable to find funding to continue.
Recently, Humanity and Golden Kids, a non-profit centre run by CancerStory.com which offers complementary cancer treatment
methods, closed because funds were short for its operations and publicity efforts."
It was this article that caught the eyes of the Straits Times reporter who made use of it to highlight the fact that NKF has
kept a reserve of $189m which could fund its operations for the next three years without the need for further fundraising.
With such an emphasis, it was no wonder that NKF's $189 million in reserves sparked an outcry from some members of the
In reality, when a discerning person reads this article, one will understand that this article was not directed at
addressing NKF's reserve but merely using it as an example to showcase the successful fundraising efforts of NKF.
To me, one of the aspects that I learned from this article is that - "it's debatable whether the
cause is the cause of the donations, or the cleverness of the campaigning that makes people give. In addition, slick
marketing and connections can make the difference."
Hence, when a Straits Times reporter interviewed me on how small charities fight for a bite of the pie, I shared with her
the message behind the painting shown below (yi yuan qi guan, meaning 'picturesque art garden'), work of Mr Loy Chye Chuan.
Through this painting, the artist shows his concern for those talented young artists who might go unnoticed if the
well-established older artists continue to 'dominate' the art scene. Luckily with the advent of Internet (as depicted by
the wooden fence falling apart), these young artists are able to reach out to the mass.
Indeed, it is a common scenario for some people to remain in the limelight or privileged positions for a long time. Some
are merely lucky souls who happened to be just there at the right place and time, to receive the favourable conditions
Using the analogy from Mr Loy's painting, I made the following remark to the Straits Times reporter Wong Sher Maine :
"It's as if all the big non-profit organisations are the top-most leaves of a plant, getting all the sunlight and good
things, while the smaller leaves below, small non-profit organisations like mine, struggle and wait for opportunities."