THE HONG KONG FEDERATION OF YOUTH GROUPS

The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) is Hong Kong’s primary charity working with young people.

It was established in 1960 by George Stokes of the British Christian Welfare Council. Yolanda Chiu is Deputy Executive Director at the Federation.

“HKFYG’s main goal is to encourage young people to grow into responsible citizens. We work with young people under the age of 35 and provide them with a variety of services and programmes, which includes a focus on their social, educational, cultural and physical development. We also have many specialised services such as counselling, leadership and skills training, learning support and employability and entrepreneurial opportunities. The HKFYG is one of the largest youth organisations in Hong Kong with a network of 360,000 youth members. We also have 160,000 young people registered as volunteers with our volunteer network.

About 50% of our revenue comes from government support and various government departments such as the Social Welfare Department, the Education Bureau and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. An additional 25% comes from fees, and the remaining 25% is from philanthropic donations. It’s quite a different picture from 10 or 15 years ago, where the majority of our income came from the government. Over the past few years we have grown, thanks to donations from corporations and foundations and sponsorships.

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Charities must prove that their projects are effective and can truly benefit the service recipients. Everything must be transparent and there must be a clear reporting system.

At the million dollar level, we are supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, with whom we have a longstanding relationship. The Hong Kong Jockey Club, while organising the racing programmes in Hong Kong, is also one of the largest philanthropic and charitable organisations in Hong Kong and gives back to the community in the form of charitable donations. One of the major projects they funded was the redevelopment of our outdoor training camp in Sai Kung, which opened in 1965. The Jockey Club has provided funding for each phase of three phases of redevelopment and expansion, totalling HK$246 million (US$30.7 million).

I think the Club supports us because they share our concern that as the camp became more and more popular, it was unable to meet the growing demands of more than 90,000 people a year. But, more importantly, I think that the Jockey Club had confidence in the way that the Federation ran the camp with high transparency and accountability, and that we adhered to the highest standards of quality service provision and safety. 

Another million dollar donor is a businessman who has given us HK$20 million (US$2.3 million) over ten years for our Hong Kong 200 Leadership Project. This project started in 2006, and aims to cultivate outstanding young people in Hong Kong into future leaders who are committed to contributing to Hong Kong. His donation allowed us to kick off this project.

This is not the donor’s first gift to HKFYG. We have built a relationship with him over a long time, and he has funded other projects and knows a lot about our work. Although he did not ask us to name the project after him, we have involved him in our work in other ways. He was an officiating guest at the project’s kick-off ceremony, and he wrote a message in our publicity materials. He also sits on the selection committee for the project and meets with the programme students every year.

The reason this donor gave was to give back to the community. He is motivated to give to HKFYG specifically because he has seen that we offer high-quality programmes and we can truly help young people in Hong Kong. He is impressed by our commitment to young people and by the services we provide. And we, in turn, have been impressed by him as a donor – he supports us in a lot of different ways besides financially, giving his expertise and time as well.

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Major donors have to believe in the charities and know that they can accomplish the philanthropic goals of the donors.

The reason this donor gave was to give back to the community. He is motivated to give to HKFYG specifically because he has seen that we offer high-quality programmes and we can truly help young people in Hong Kong. He is impressed by our commitment to young people and by the services we provide. And we, in turn, have been impressed by him as a donor – he supports us in a lot of different ways besides financially, giving his expertise and time as well.

I have a few points of advice for charities seeking million dollar donations. Invest in fundraising. It’s important for organisations to have staff designated to build relationships with donors or foundations. Second, think ahead of time about the exposure of donors. How will the charity recognise donors? Will donors have the right to name a building or project or to put their logo on the charity’s materials? Charities seeking this level of funding should also think about how the funders will be involved in other ways, such as on committees or boards.

Providing donors with quality service and accountability is key. Charities must prove that their projects are effective and can truly benefit their recipients. Everything must be transparent and there must be a clear reporting system. Project sustainability is also important. Donors typically will not fund a project indefinitely, so charities must create the programmes with the goal of surviving even after the initial funding period. This also shows donors that a charity is serious about the project. Finally, involving donors in the project is vital, whether they are individuals, foundations and corporations. For example, some corporations want their staff to be able to be involved as volunteers.

Major donors have to believe in the charities and know that they can accomplish the philanthropic goals of the donors. For example, our services here at HKFYG can meet the social needs of the next generation and build a better cohort of young people in Hong Kong. This is really an investment in the future of Hong Kong which suits everyone, especially businesses. It is important for us to have private donors, since the Hong Kong government only finances a certain portion of our services. So our goal is to convince the donors that the needs of the youth in Hong Kong are important, and that we are the organisation best suited to fill this gap.

We think that by giving to HKFYG, philanthropists are giving back to their community and sharing the responsibility to solve social problems. We try to think of different ways to acknowledge our donors and show them that they are highly appreciated. Their work in philanthropy will serve as a model, and we hope they will influence others who would like to give back to society too.”