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Operation Santa Claus

HK$1 million incentive on offer as Hong Kong’s rising charity leaders begin training course

Nine-month programme at Chinese University will develop the skills they will need for NGOs to expand and thrive

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2017, 4:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2017, 9:30pm

Twenty-four budding charity leaders gathered at the opening ceremony of a training programme, with the top student in line for a prize of up to HK$1 million to fund their non-governmental organisation.

In its third year, the nine-month leadership programme at Chinese University, with experts from Swiss bank UBS and scholars from the university as mentors, will help the NGO representatives improve their management and social networking skills and boost cooperation, enabling them to make maximum use of limited resources and provide better services.

Winners all round as Operation Santa Claus 2016 comes to a close

“Many people have been saying that local NGOs lack funding,” Amy Lo Choi-wan, head of UBS wealth management for Greater China, said at the opening ceremony last Friday. “But, during our cooperation with many charities, we found that the real issue that they are facing is how to get the most out of what they have and how to present themselves to potential donors.”

UBS will contribute half of the top prize, which amounts to HK$800,000 to HK$1 million, while the other half will come from Operation Santa Claus, the annual charity fundraiser organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

Iris Wan, programme director of charity Teach for Hong Kong, which started three years ago, said the NGO had expanded more quickly than the management had prepared for.

It recruits university graduates from non-education subjects to teach full-time voluntarily in schools for children from grass-roots families.

Operation Santa Claus: Future charity leaders gather to hone their skills

Wan said the organisation started with six teachers and now had 41 in 24 schools.

“We want to know how we can manage such a rapid growth, how to keep us growing sustainably and how we can attract different partners, such as private companies and the government,” Wan said.

She said demand for the organisation’s services from schools had been increasing but it was hard to find graduates willing to spend one year teaching voluntarily instead of finding a job and building a career.

This was why the group had been partnering with big corporations to guarantee interview opportunities, such as the MTR Corporation, the Jockey Club, the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University.

Other charities represented include the Mental Health Association, New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, the Women’s Foundation and Food Angel by Bo Charity Foundation.