Tackling Hong Kong’s Double Crisis: A Case Study on Bridging the Funding Gap


February 3, 2021

2 min read

2020 was a tremendously challenging year for Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) globally, but none more so than the hundreds of NGOs in Hong Kong, who were dealt a double blow of COVID-19 and civil unrest.

Upon understanding the needs of the Hong Kong NGO community, we found that there was an alarming funding gap. The disruptions to activities had led to multiple cancellations of fundraising events that traditionally contributed to the “unrestricted funding” pool of these NGOs. This funding pool had previously been relied upon to cover operating costs – rent, salaries – basically to keep the lights on.

To ensure that service delivery of the NGOs would continue during this critical time, The Chen Yet Sen Family Foundation (CYSFF) launched the #BridgeTheGapHK campaign together with a group of Hong Kong funders.

The proposition was to encourage those from the Hong Kong community who could afford it, to donate their HK$10,000 cash payout from the Hong Kong government to the 25 pre-selected NGOs in desperate need of funding. In addition, CYSFF matched the donations raised through public funding to their selected NGOs. By working together, the funders and NGOs raised over HK$25 million. The campaign pushed the charities to reinvent themselves and raise funding via new methods. In fact, they had been set pre-determined targets, based on the funders’ understanding of their needs.

Lessons Learnt from #BridgeTheGapHK

During this difficult time, #BridgeTheGapHK demonstrated the power of collaboration, not only in its collective contribution to the NGOs and their beneficiaries, but also in a spirit of camaraderie and cooperation amongst all the groups involved. Beyond the act of funding, the #BridgeTheGapHK campaign was instrumental in building a stronger and more inclusive community in Hong Kong, particularly during the difficult circumstances happening throughout 2020.

A key focus of this funding was ensuring that it was unrestricted – that NGOs could use this funding for their most urgent needs, from bills to rent as well as their ongoing projects. It is important going forward that we all look at how unrestricted funding can be built into financial support for NGOs, particularly during a crisis.

The concept of match-funding was also an important catalyst for incentivising donations, in addition to a major profile-raising media campaign to increase public awareness of NGOs in their time of need.

Being creative and innovative in response to a crisis is essential in supporting NGOs – a group that will be hardest hit during any upheaval. #BridgeTheGapHK demonstrated the effectiveness of working together as a community to address these issues, and as we look into 2021, we seek new ways to collaborate to create the biggest impact amongst those hardest hit by the events of the last two years.

About Author
Jennifer Chen
Jennifer Chen Chief Executive The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation

Jennifer Chen is the Chief Executive of the Chen-Yet Sen Family Foundation, the global foundation using Moonshot Philanthropy to address early childhood literacy and vision correction. Through her work she led the Asia office for the Clearly campaign, which shifted the dial on how poor vision is perceived as a development issue and a golden thread to achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

In response to the significant disruption of funding for Hong Kong NGOs as a result of civil unrest and COVID, Jennifer led the launch of the 2020 #BridgetheGapHK campaign which together with other funders provided unrestricted match funding that offered a vital lifeline of liquidity to 25 charities across Hong Kong.

Jennifer is also the Director of Philanthropic Engagement at Legacy Advisors, a thriving family office in Hong Kong and sits on the Board of Governors or as a senior advisor for charities including Bring Me a Book HK and Social Impact Partners.

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