Charity is not a simple fundraising
--Interview with Lin Zhimin, executive director and president of Bank of East Asia（China）
Written and photographed by Zhou Mo
The Bank of East Asia, established in Hong Kong in 1918, opened Bank of East Asian China Co., Ltd., in Shanghai ten years ago. Over the past decade, Bank of East Asia (China) has been insisting on making the public welfare as an important mission of the enterprise. Through the establishment of the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation – Bank of East Asia Public Welfare Fund, we design practical public welfare projects, organize employees, customers and partners to actively participate in various forms of education aid projects, donation and charity auctions, effectively help the disadvantaged groups in need of help. Why is it so important for a foreign bank to implement public welfare projects in China? How can enterprises implement public welfare projects sustainably and effectively? How to interpret the relationship between social responsibility and corporate culture. …... Not long ago, I interviewed Mr. Lin Zhimin, executive director and president of Bank of East Asia (China).
Lin Zhimin, executive director and president of Bank of East Asia China
The platform extends projects Love needn’t be kidnapped
Q: What is the original intention of SSCLF – BEA Public Welfare Fund?
Lin: BEA China Co., limited has been actively carrying out various public welfare activities since its establishment in Shanghai in 2007. To more systematically plan and carry out CSR (Corporation Social Responsibility), we joined hands with the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation in 2009 to set up the "SSCLF - BEA Public Welfare Fund", which aims to help teenagers in poor rural areas receive better education. At the same time, with such a public welfare platform, we can extend more projects to benefit more people.
Q: What are your main ways to raise money? How is the enthusiasm of the employees participating in public welfare activities?
Lin: The main ways to raise money include companies and employees. Our employees are highly motivated, some employees have made long term donations and some employees still make donation after their leaving the bank.
Q: In addition to corporates, shareholders and employees' participation in fundraising, I have heard that some of your clients are also participating in donation. I think it’s easy to mobilize the employees to participate in donation. Is it difficult to mobilize some of your clients to participate in donation? Will customers have the idea of being kidnapped by morality?
Lin: Along with the continuous improvement of our public welfare undertakings, more and more enterprises want to do their best to undertake their own social responsibility. The bank has many loving and powerful customers willing to participate in charity, but entrepreneurs often feel lack of profession in conducting charity project by themselves and they want to donate and face too many choices and don’t know how to choose. BEA public welfare fund just provides such a platform for them. The customer’s choice is based on a good cooperation with the bank as well as the high reputation of the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation. After personally participating in specific projects such as the firefly project, they are very much in agreement with the results of the tangible project, and they have also seen our determination and effectiveness. Therefore, some enterprises not only continue to support us, but even to mobilize the people around them to make donations.
Q: The annual benefit gala is an important fundraising event for you. The amount of money raised at the benefit gala is also astonishing. Do you have any expected fundraising goals for each benefit gala? And there are a lot of unpredictable situations in the auction process. What measures will you take to ensure the price of the final auction is under control? How to collect expensive items? Have any abortive auction items ever happened?
Lin: Our auction items are carefully chosen, all from caring people or partners. And the guests invited to our benefit gala are all the caring people, who are willing to buy their favorite auction item while devoting their love. As a result, abortive auction item has never occurred in our charity dinner. The purpose of our benefit dinner is to attract more people to join the public welfare team to focus on children’s education in poor rural areas. I think the dedication of love is priceless, so we will not impose price on love.
2016 Charity Gala Auction
Benefit the disadvantaged Making good use of donations
Q: It should be no big problem for Bank of East Asia (China) to raise funds for public welfare activities. But it is not easy how to make these donated money condensing the goodwill of enterprise employees and customers produce public welfare effect, and how to help the disadvantaged groups who really need help. This is also the difficult problem for a lot of caring companies to face. What are the main areas you raise fund annually for? What's the effect?
Lin: We have to consider a number of factors in the operation of public welfare projects which also face many difficult problems, but we are willing to bear the corporate social responsibility. I think do a right thing, must stick to it and do it well. I am very pleased that our employees and our customers are very much in recognition of such values, which are well reflected in their participation. Every year, we will invest in the three key projects of our Public Welfare Fund. First of all - "Firefly Project". From 2010 to now, we have built 63 multi-media classrooms in poor rural schools nationwide to help children broaden their horizons, and we have released a total of more than 38,000 "Firefly 60 Parcels” containing learning supplies. In addition to hardware support, every year we also organize one or two batches of staff volunteers to teach in rural schools, and provide regular training for principals and teachers of these schools, etc., hoping to help the schools improve the teaching quality on software. Secondly – “College Grant Program”. We have cooperated with well-known universities - Tsinghua, Fudan, Zhongshan and other universities, to provide scholarships for the poor students who are excellent both in character and learning to help them complete their studies. Thirdly - "NGO Aid Program". The recipients of NGO Aid Program is more extensive. Public Welfare can’t rely on our own power, and each year we will screen excellent NGOs, to support their projects. Since its inception in 2013, we have funded 32 projects covering areas such as rehabilitation of autistic children, care for the elderly and education of children from migrant workers. In the past two years, we have also created a platform of "Pairs of Public Welfare Matched”, through the linkage with the media to carry out public welfare activities to expand social influence.
Q: Each year you organize some of your employees to provide volunteer service in remote areas, how much do you think volunteers can do in a few days?
Lin: The short-term education aid project we organize our employee volunteers to implement, aims at bringing some things to children in remote areas that they can't learn in normal classes. Our volunteers focused more on quality curriculum experience beyond Chinese, mathematics subjects, such as interesting geography, labor skills and education for safety, etc. We hope through this form of teaching, children can broaden their horizons and understand the world from more perspectives. It is the most significance of our short-term teaching. Of course, we have also noticed the importance of long-term education, so this year we also launched "Put up a piece of sky" long-term education project. The project recruited volunteers from the society to support education in remote areas for a full year. We hope that through the combination of short-term and long-term education, we can do what we can to help more children in poor rural areas.
Q: "Pairs of Public welfare Matched" is a large-scale public welfare program funded by the Bank of East Asia (China) in recent years in cooperation with media. The selected public welfare projects you funded every year have good influence in community. How do you consider the pros and cons of projects? How much financial support can the selected public welfare projects receive? How do you monitor these projects? Can you give me one or two successful cases?
Lin: "Pairs of Public Welfare Matched" is the public welfare platform we created in 2016. It aims to further enhance the cohesion and collaborative efficiency of BEA Public Welfare Fund and expand our beneficiaries. Each year, we focus on different topics. Last year's theme is NGO Aid Project, to help caring enterprises select excellent public welfare organizations to implement a public welfare project and this year's theme is to select long-term volunteer teachers to provide quality teachers for schools in poor areas. About the pros and cons of the project, as a public welfare platform, we have a multi-dimensional screening system and an organization consisting of different fields of professional experts to evaluate and judge and finally reached a comprehensive ranking. To take the NGO Aid Project as an example, the selected projects will generally receive financial support from RMB 80,000 yuan to 200,000 yuan. Winning the project funding is just the beginning, the NGO needs to provide the complete implementation plan, regular feedback project progress and the financial condition, BEA Public Welfare Fund will also visit, regularly supervise, and ensure the project implemented effectively on schedule. “Pairs of Public Welfare Matched" is an extension of our NGO Aid Program, we see that the original funded excellent projects in this platform continue to get more people's recognition and dissemination through their own project value. For example, the "Autistic Child Care" project of Shanghai Qing Cong Quan (QCQ) Training Center for Children with Special Needs is also a project that we have been supporting for nearly four years. In addition, we also funded a number of less focused areas, such as Shanghai Pudong Hand-in–Hand Life Care Development Center "Hospice" project. Although the project started late in China, but with the change of people's concept, through such an NGO project, more people will face "hospice", and better accompany their family member to complete the final journey of life.
2017 “Put up a Piece of Sky” long-term volunteer teacher selection activity scene
Take social responsibility and attach importance to corporate culture
Q: In the international community, social responsibility is an important support point for many enterprises, and China has also begun to focus on this topic in recent years. What do you think social responsibility should include? Why should companies have social responsibility?
Lin: As a part of social composition, each enterprise should undertake the corresponding social responsibility. Corporate social responsibility is a broad concept, I think it should include good faith management, treat employees, adherence to sustainable development, protection of the environment, help more people in need in society and so on. Enterprises without social responsibility will have a great negative impact on society. Food safety problems, environmental pollution problems, consumer fraud and so on are all caused by the enterprises which are not aware of social responsibility. Therefore, the enterprises must have the social responsibility.
Q: What is the relationship between corporate social responsibility and corporate culture? It has been nearly eight years since the establishment of BEA Public Welfare Fund. In addition to investing a lot of money and manpower, what is the biggest gain for the businesses?
Lin: I think corporate social responsibility is covered in corporate culture. For example, we provide employees with paid volunteer service leave, actively encourage employees to participate in both internal and external activities, so as to increase staff's sense of corporate culture. In addition, we also through a wide range of dissemination, such as internal news, corporate public number, as well as external media, our employees, customers and even the public understand our efforts to undertake corporate social responsibility, better build our own corporate culture through corporate social responsibility. When it comes to harvesting, it is a very meaningful thing to help people who need help through our actions. Furthermore, through these volunteer activities we have increased the cohesion of our staff and become an important asset of Bank of East Asia (China), I think these are the biggest harvest in conducting public welfare project for so many years.
Q: With the implementation of last year's Charity Law, China's philanthropy ushered in the spring. What is the role that socially responsible enterprises can play in the development of philanthropy?
Lin: I feel that enterprises with social responsibility can play a good role and can share their successful experience with other people. Charity is not a simple fundraising, but a relatively professional field. The development of foreign countries in this field is more advanced, the management is more scientific, and these are worthy of our reference.
Listen to the lecture at 2016 rural principal training class
(From SSCLF’s Quarterly “Change” Sixth issue in September, 2017)