Hong Kong Jockey Club backs equitable balance with charities

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 December, 2015, 5:59pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 December, 2015, 5:59pm

I refer to Philip Yeung’s article (“Wiser use of charity dollars can give Hong Kong’s poorer students a real shot at a proper education”, November 24).

Is it better for a charitable foundation to try to reach as many different needy groups as possible through its donations, or focus on a few larger projects that can achieve greater social impact? Recently I had the opportunity to exchange ideas with Jeff Bradach, managing partner of the US-based Bridgespan Group, a non-profit organisation that helps businesses, charitable foundations and social sector leaders maximise the effectiveness of philanthropic donations and better address some of society’s most important challenges.

Bradach is a strong proponent of building scale, arguing that this enables the efficacy of different initiatives to be more accurately measured, so that they can progressively be extended to reach more people in more diverse communities, and thus over time achieve real social impact.

He believes that many philanthropically minded companies and foundations try to spread their donations too widely and don’t always monitor their effectiveness as thoroughly as they should, so that in the end, their efforts fail to reach their well-meaning goals.

At the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, we try to strike an equitable balance as far as possible. In 2014/15, the club’s Charities Trust donation has reached a record of

HK$3.87 billion and covered nearly 190 projects of all types and sizes, ranging from education and training, arts, culture and heritage, elderly services, medical and health, youth development and environmental protection. Our trustees have decided to focus on three areas of community need in the coming three to five years, namely youth, elderly and sport for active living and character building.

In September next year, we plan to host an international philanthropy forum in Hong Kong to connect brilliant ideas with needs to promote more value creation. I’m hoping Jeff Bradach will be one of our keynote speakers.

Bradach believes it is no longer good enough for funders just to be able to tell a good story; there is an increasing expectation that they should be able to measure the impact of what they are doing.

He says that although impact can be difficult to measure, there are usually useful indicators along the way, so you don’t have to wait 20 years to see the impact of projects like school programmes.

Leong Cheong, executive director for charities and community, Hong Kong Jockey Club