From Business to the NGO Sector: the Unexpected Certainty

中文 English
Editor’s Note:

Transitioning from the profit-driven business world to the eye-opening NGO sector, the once disoriented Yang Yang has found her way. Adding grant-making to the functions of the TAE Charitable Foundation, where she currently works, has offered both the foundation and Yang Yang a chance to embrace openness and forge a closer relationship with the grassroots community. With her business background, Yang Yang has also sensed new possibilities for merging business and public welfare to find diverse solutions to social problems.

At the end of 2013, Yang Yang, then the PR manager of the TAETEA Group, was unexpectedly assigned to the TAE Charitable Foundation. She felt at quite a loss for about the first half-year. The TAE Charitable Foundation was founded by the TAETEA Group. It is relatively independent, yet very much marginalized. On the other hand, Yang Yang had already worked in the business field for eight years, five in advertisement followed by three years in PR and branding at the TAE group. Joining the foundation meant an utter change in her job description. “Did I fail at my previous position?” Yang Yang wondered.

Nonetheless, Yang Yang began to visit local NGOs in order to familiarize herself with the projects and operations of foundations. As her understanding grew, she realized that this was exactly the new start she was looking for. When working in the business sector, she always felt that she was laboring for others and for money, and she felt quite disconnected from social issues. Now however her work is not only pertinent to the TAE Charitable Foundation, but also to the social problems that the foundation aims to address. “Social problems actually matter to every individual. The third sector is where people can implement their civic rights.” Gradually this job turned into her inner drive and a source of happiness in her life.

Opening up to cooperation

Within the TAE Charitable Foundation, Yang Yang is in charge of volunteer management, grant-making liaisons and publicity, and gets more involved in detailed project operations in 2015.  During these last two years, the foundation’s operating modes have begun to change as well. “The foundation was very self-confined two years ago. The projects were internal and operated mainly by the foundation itself” says Yang Yang. It hardly worked with other NGOs. But since last year, the foundation has been building up a sectorial support platform, and thus dealing with many grassroots NGOs. It has therefore built up a reputation in the NGO sector. The more she interacts and cooperates with grassroots NGOs, the more like-minded partners she finds.

Since Yunnan Province had no professional organizations focusing on the promotion of reading, TAE Charitable Foundation contacted Miaomiao (Qiu Shuimiao) and Hu Mingguang from Hangzhou’s 6He Charity online, and worked with the charity’s two project offices in Guizhou and Anhui Provinces. Yang Yang reckons that if both the foundations and the grassroots NGOs maintain an attitude of focusing on mutual benefit, this will lead to smoother communication and cooperation. Originally, the TAE Charitable Foundation focused primarily on providing Hope Primary Schools with book rooms, computers and other facilities. The cooperation with Hangzhou’s 6He Charity, on the other hand, aims to step up the soft power of education through the promotion of reading.

At present the TAE Charitable Foundation, due to a shift in its strategies, hopes to make use of its strong points in order to support charitable activities undertaken by undergraduate students. In 2010, the TAE Charitable Foundation worked with universities and built charitable tea-rooms, providing part-time job opportunities for students at the outset and then adopting a more self-sustained strategy by recruiting students, who are interested in traditional culture or starting their own businesses, to run the tea-rooms themselves. Yang Yang thinks that the Charitable Tea-Room project has achieved the best results among all the projects of the TAE Charitable Foundation, but still needs improvement if it is to expand its scope and impact more students.

The TAE Charitable Foundation currently has 88 partner universities across China. In future it plans to promote the establishment of student societies and participation in charity activities through Charitable Tea Rooms. The foundation will provide funds and training, and therefore essentially abandon the earlier approach of granting funds directly to financially challenged students.

This change in strategy echoes the shift in the foundation’s strategy from pure project operations to a mix of grant-making and project operations. The grants provided annually by the foundation amounted to around six million last year, and are expected to be around eight million this year. Yang Yang earnestly hopes that the proportion of grants can become even higher so as to maximize their effects, given that the foundation has a solid network within university campuses and it is able to nourish a number of excellent public welfare societies through cooperation with universities and other NGOs.

Capacity building needs sectorial support

There are eight project officers in the TAE Charitable Foundation, all coming from different backgrounds. Most of them are new to the NGO sector and are in urgent need of capacity building and professional support. “I have my strong points in advertising and creativity, which lend themselves to NGO work, yet I lack certain skills in other aspects.” says Yang Yang. Working at the foundation demands a variety of knowledge. Expertise and the cultivation of competency are essential to a professional in the NGO sector. The foundation organizes several internal trainings a year, and sometimes it even organizes external trainings, which usually meet employees’ requirements. Yang Yang participated in a training session for social entrepreneurs at the British Council, an eye-opening event in terms of social enterprise and innovation. During the session she built lasting relationships with fellow NGO workers, especially ones from Yunnan Province like herself.

There are few private foundations in Yunnan Province, making it difficult to communicate within and outside of the sector. The annual participation in the China Charity Fair in Shenzhen is the main opportunity for communication with the outside. Apart from the CCF, the foundation exchanges information online with other members of the China Charity Alliance. Yang Yang believes that what project officers need most is to gain more practical skills in areas like project surveying, thinking tools and group decision-making.

With regard to the results of the foundation’s projects, Yang Yang says that since the grant-making projects of TAE Charitable Foundation began only about a year ago and only two projects have currently been completed, we cannot yet evaluate the results. The projects operated by the foundation itself take longer, but also lack evaluation. “I am not entirely satisfied, but I am not sure where the problem lies. Anyway, there is still room for improvement,” adds Yang Yang. How the foundations operate directly impacts the development of the whole NGO sector. Improvement in foundations’ performances depends on the capacity building for frontline project officers, whose voices the sector should respond to.

It’s a big world, deal with it calmly

Her two years in a foundation have flied, and Yang Yang has witnessed a huge change in the NGO sector from the perspective of publicity and the media. In the past, NGOs tended to make use of sob stories that would appeal to people’s emotions. Nowadays however, most activities within the sector, including those run by the TAE Charitable Foundation, appear to be “more bright and positive and more oriented towards meeting the needs of the masses. This new method is close to brand marketing, attracting participation through packaging, marketing, and the use of new media. Advertising and creativity are very useful in this area.”

Concerning sectorial development, she thinks the tendency towards professionalism is more and more palpable. Passion or money is no longer the only drives. Foundations must strengthen their relationship with grassroots NGOs and the government to achieve an integration effect. The merging of business and public welfare has produced a larger variety of problem-solving methods.

Facing these changes, Yang Yang says she has reached a bottle-neck and is pondering on future steps such as further postgraduate education or other means of achieving self-growth. But when it comes to a detailed plan, she still needs more time to see what opportunities lie ahead.

A new member recently joined the TAE Charitable Foundation. Yang Yang, as an experienced senior member, gave her some advice: “you should hold up high standards for yourself and the foundation. If the development and strategies of the foundation do not fit in with your own plans, you can always leave and explore the rest of this big world.”

Introduction to the author: Yang Yang, who was born in Yunnan in 1983, studied advertisement as her undergraduate major and became interested in movies and television. She worked in the production of TV programs, brand marketing and promotion, participating in the production of several grand galas and reality shows by Xing Kong TV, SMG and Zhejiang TV. She joined the TAE group in 2011, working in marketing and then PR. At the end of 2013, she became a member of the TAE Charitable Foundation and began her career in the NGO sector.

 

 

【来自基金会的TA】从企业转身公益:意料之外,也是必然

作者:付涛
编者的话

       从在企业“替人做事、拿钱卖命”,到转身公益一步步打开社会视野,“豁然开朗”,杨阳从迷茫走向了坚定。而她所在的云南大益爱心基金会从操作型转变为资助与操作混合型,也为她和基金会从封闭走向开放,走近草根合作伙伴打开了空间。来自商业的背景,还使她敏锐地感受到商业和公益相互融合的氛围,更为多样化的社会问题解决方案正从中催生出来。

2013年底,从云南大益茶业集团创意&策略中心公关部经理的任上,突然被集团董事长空降到大益爱心基金会的时候,杨阳一度非常迷茫,这种状态持续了半年。基金会的发起方是大益茶业集团,在集团系列中相对独立但也很边缘。毕业10年,杨阳有8年时间在商业领域,前5年在广告行业,2011年进入大益集团,负责公关策划推广和品牌建设。进入基金会后,从商业到公益,工作性质发生了完全的改变。“自己是不是工作没有干好?”在巨大的心理冲击下,杨阳曾这样问自己。

迷茫中,她还是打起精神,马不停蹄地拜访当地的公益伙伴,了解基金会的项目和运作管理。当她慢慢对公益加深了认知,打开眼界,内心似乎也随之豁然开朗,发现这其实正是自己一直在寻找的新起点。过去在企业工作,总有一种替别人做事,“拿钱卖命”的感觉,也觉得自己与很多社会议题无关。而现在的工作,不只和大益基金会这个机构有关,还与基金会致力于解决的社会问题关联起来。“社会议题其实跟每个人都有关。公益是个人可以努力去把握和实现的公民权利。”由此,公益渐渐成了她的内在驱动,成为人生的一种幸运。 从封闭到开放合作

杨阳在基金会主要负责志愿者管理、对外资助联系以及传播推广,并在今年开始更多地介入具体的项目运作。也是在近两年,基金会的运作也开始有所改变。“基金会两年前的项目比较家族化,以自己操作为主,很封闭。”杨阳说,当时与NGO伙伴走得不近,少有合作。但从去年开始,基金会开始建立公益支持平台,与草根公益组织打起交道,通过项目合作在草根社群中有了一些口碑。与草根NGO互动越多,合作越多,越是发现能相互理解、志同道合的伙伴。

因为云南没有比较专业的教育类阅读推广组织,大益基金会就主动通过互联网平台找到了杭州六和公益的妙妙(裘水妙)和胡明光,在六和公益设在贵州正安和安徽的项目点开展合作。杨阳说,在基金会与NGO之间,如果抱着互相成就对方的心态,就能成就良性的互动与合作。此前,大益基金会主要是援建希望小学,并提供爱心图书室、电脑室等硬件项目。与六合公益的合作,旨在通过阅读推广增加软性的教育成份。

目前,基金会因为战略调整,将逐步退出阅读领域,希望聚焦于自己的优势领域,专注于大学生公益支持。2010年,基金会与大学合作建设爱心茶室,为贫困生提供勤工俭学机会,后来调整为在校内公开招募对传统文化感兴趣,或者有创业打算的大学生,组建团队来运营茶室,强化茶室的商业运营与自我造血能力。杨阳认为,大益基金会的项目中,效果比较好的就是爱心茶室,但这个平台还需要更进一步提升效能,在更大范围内辐射和影响大学生。

目前,大益爱心基金会的合作高校在全国已达88所。未来,大益基金会计划鼓励爱心茶室推动大学生成立社团,参与公益,创新创业,而大益基金会也会提供项目资助和培训支持。这将从实质上脱离早期单纯发放贫困生助学金的传统做法。

与这样的战略调整相对应的,是大益基金会从操作型转变为资助与操作混合型。去年,基金会的年度捐赠额大约为600多万元,今年预计为800多万元。杨阳说,她个人很希望资助比例能够大一点,这样才能充分发挥公益效能,当然其前提是高校网络建设得比较好,基金会能够与校方及其他NGO多方合作,扶持一批优秀的公益社团出来。

 

能力提升需要行业支持

大益基金会目前有8位项目官员,背景多样,除了杨阳来自集团,大多数是社会招聘:半路出家,都亟需能力提升和专业支持。“我虽然在广告、创意方面有自己的优势,在公益方面也用得上,但在其他的一些专业领域还是很缺的。”杨阳说,基金会工作要求项目官员调动的知识和领域很广,如果以职业要求去做事,就需要专业的对接和能力提升。每年,基金会内部会组织一些培训,个别的外出培训机会一般也能满足员工的需求。杨阳参加过英国使馆文化处的社会企业家培训,感觉打开了社会企业和社会创新的眼界,更重要的是结识了从事这一行的很多伙伴,包括云南本地的NGO伙伴。

地处云南,当地的非公募基金会同行屈指可数,基金会在行业交流与外界沟通方面相对比较闭塞。每年参加深圳慈展会成为机构对外交流的主要活动,另外作为基金会中心和中国慈善联合会的会员单位,在线上平台与其他会员单位有一些信息交流。杨阳觉得,项目官员最需要实操层面的交流学习,包括项目调研、思维工具和团队决策等方面,都是重要的学习内容。

谈及大益基金会的项目效果,杨阳说,由于资助项目开展才一年左右,结案的项目仅仅两个,还无法评价效果。运作型项目虽然时间长一些,但也缺乏评估。“还不是特别满意,但也不知道问题根源在哪儿,总之我觉得效果是有待提升的。”基金会的运作效果直接影响到公益行业发展,而提升基金会的运作效果,离不开对基金会一线项目官员的能力建设支持。基金会行业有责任回应这个群体的需求和声音。 世界很大 当从容面对

在基金会两年的时间倏忽而过,杨阳从公益传播的角度观察到公益行业的巨大变化。她觉得公益界在过去常常出现很苦情、很催泪的运作和传播方式,但现在的公益行动,包括大益基金会的项目和活动,都“更阳光,更体现正能量,也尽力贴合公众的需求。这跟品牌的营销不谋而合,就是通过包装和营销,包括新媒体手段让大家喜欢去参与。广告和创意在这方面可以起到很好的作用。”

而在行业发展方面,她认为已经过了仅仅凭借热情和财富做事的阶段,专业化趋势越来越明显。此外,基金会还需要打破闭塞的状态,与草根民间力量以及政府加强合作,形成整合效应。而商业和公益的融合,已经开始催生更为多样化的社会问题解决方案。

面对这样的行业变化,杨阳坦言,自己正处于瓶颈期,也在思考未来的方向,正考虑是否报读相关的硕士项目,或者通过其他方式提升自己。具体怎么走,还需要些时间去考虑,看看能碰到何种机遇。

刚好基金会进了一位新人,杨阳作为一个“非典型”过来人对新人讲:“你对自己要有要求,对服务的机构也应该要有要求,如果机构的发展或者规划没有符合你对未来的设想,也可以走出去多看看,世界很大嘛。”

 

杨阳,1983年生于云南。大学专业为广告学,并爱上影视传播,先后在昆明和上海从事影视节目制作及品牌全案推广,参与了星空卫视、SMG、浙江卫视等频道的大型晚会及真人秀制作。2011年加入大益集团,从市场推广策划到大型公关活动执行,职业生涯从技术型乙方转变为服务专一品牌。2013年底有幸加入大益爱心基金会,正式开启公益人生。

 

【栏目介绍】作为行业资源汇聚之地,基金会总是能吸引更多目光,然而过往基金会发出的声音大多来自深孚众望的公益大佬与意见领袖,中基层项目官员成为沉默的大多数。2015年,在第七届中国非公募基金会发展论坛的支持下,中国发展简报设计执行了“倾听一线的声音-—项目官员眼中的基金会与行业”项目,通过国内非公募基金会一线项目官员的公益观察或个人故事,展示他/她们的所思所想、所见所得,由此呈现项目官员如何成长、基金会如何运作、又如何对社会议题和行业发展产生影响。

 

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Translated by Li Yuanhui

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