Donors rolling up their sleeves

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 January, 2012, 12:00am

Companies wanting to make a contribution to society nowadays do not just write a cheque: they want their staff to have a chance to get involved in community services.

'In the past 10 years, Community Chest has linked our events with subvented services to allow our donors a better understanding of our involvement in social welfare services,' said Margaret Leung Ko May-yee, executive committee chairman of Community Chest and chief executive of Hang Seng Bank.

She said there was an increasing trend for corporate donors to designate part of their donations to specific services, such as education-related projects, or services for the mentally ill.

Hang Seng Bank, for example, had encouraged staff to get involved in volunteer work and to have direct contact with those less fortunate, Leung said.

Every Mid-Autumn Festival, the bank invites 200 underprivileged older people aged from 70 to 90 to a banquet at the Hang Seng Bank penthouse, where staff serve the food.

The bank also holds an annual 'ping pong' event to allow underprivileged children to play table tennis with professional players at the penthouse. Staff also serve at this event.

Hang Seng Bank staff have also helped in other ways, including making videos showing how severely disabled people cope.

'The staff involved in these activities enjoy it. These charitable moves improve their morale and sense of belonging to the bank. They feel that Hang Seng is not just a place for them to work but also a place for them to do good for society,' Leung said.

The chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong, Benjamin Hung Pi-cheng, said his bank, too, did not just donate cash but encouraged staff to work for the community. 'It would be easy for us to write a cheque, but we do want to do more than that. We want our staff to be directly involved in these community activities,' Hung said.

Some 700 staff volunteers work for the Standard Chartered Marathon Hong Kong every February, and 300 to 400 staff are volunteers at the Standard Chartered Arts in the Park Mardi Gras, an arts event for children and their families, which is held in July at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay.

'Some people approached me during the Mardi Gras and I thought for a second that they were going to complain about the bank,' Hung said.

'But they weren't. They just wanted to shake my hand and thank the bank for bringing happiness to their family through this event. This was touching, and it proves that it's all worthwhile.'