In the five years since it was set up, Nanyang Foundation has managed to build a solid reputation for itself in charitable work. It now plans to move on to other things, writes SHANTINI SUNTHARAJAH.
FOR half a decade, the Nanyang Foundation has given many of the needy in Malaysia not only medical and financial aid but hope in their hearts for a better life.
A charitable organisation run by news media Nanyang Siang Pau, the foundation was set up in 1999 and has since then raised a total of RM1,313,637.76. The funds have been disbursed to non-government and voluntary organisations such as the Malaysian Red Crescent Society, Hospis Malaysia, Montfort Youth Centre and the Malaysian Paralympic Council.
The foundation has also set up its own dialysis centres in Setapak, Banting and Kampar.
Nanyang Foundation chairman Datuk Wong See Wah says it was established as a kind of challenge for Nanyang Siang Pau. “We wanted to show that the press can carry out charity work in an organised manner,” he says.
“The Malaysian media often appeal for donations to help support one cause or another but this is often carried out in a haphazard way. I think we have proven the point that the press can actually do charity work in a structured way. We even have tax exempt status.”
Considering its excellent track record at raising funds, Wong now believes the time has come for the foundation to become more than just a link between generous donors and the less fortunate.
“We want to widen the scope by teaching non-government organisation (NGO) employees how to manage and run a fundraising establishment effectively,” he says.
The foundation had a few years earlier organised a national fundraising workshop that aimed to do just that, but it had been too caught up in various charity projects as well as building a good reputation for itself to do much in the training sector.
“We have to be very careful with the money we collect because we are holding to public trust and we don’t want to give any doubts to anyone,” says Wong.
“We are managers of public funds and we make sure that they (the donors) are informed of our audited accounts.”
Over the past five years, the foundation’s employees have had their hands full organising fundraising activities, including the Christmas Charity Dinners, the Endau Rompin Charity Trail in 2002 and the Cameron Highlands Charity Trail last year.
Feeling that the basic running of the foundation is now under control, Wong thinks the time is right to return to the heart of all fundraising organisations – the employees.
“One of our areas of focus will now be on training other NGO employees and we are considering the possibility of a certified course in fundraising so that these people can do their jobs professionally,” he says.
Wong believes that professional, efficient employees are the crux of a successful fundraising outfit. Citing Nanyang Foundation as an example, he says that with just four employees, the foundation has come a long way.
“Our executive secretary is Ann Woo and she has one accounts clerk and only two people helping her.”
The foundation started out with nothing, he says.
“In 1999, we started from scratch – without a single sen. Nanyang Foundation is what it is today – a trusted, efficient fundraising organisation – due to the diligence of Woo and her assistants.”
Although the main focus of the Nanyang Foundation is to raise funds, their mission from the start was to do more than just collect money to help the poor, Wong says.
“We wanted to provide community service activities. There are people who need handouts, there are cases like that but there are also people who need training in leadership and a boost of confidence – like single mothers and orphans who need someone to come and give them hope in their lives.
“Nanyang Foundation is interested in organising activities that encourage human development.”
One such activity is the empowerment workshop for single mothers – an event that began in 2000 and which has since become a highly successful annual affair.
“The workshop is a source of pride for the foundation,” says Wong.
“We decided to organise this for single mothers because we feel that they need to have a positive outlook. Single mothers are very ‘thin' psychologically and sometimes they think that their husbands are the only hope in their lives.”
Wong believes that many of the participants of this workshop, which is open to all races, have come away with a better perspective on their future prospects and some have even moved on to form their own support group.
“Now we have a group of about 300 single mothers and they organise their own activities but they keep us informed,” he says, adding that the foundation is now thinking of coming up with an official support group for these women.
In view of the increase in child sexual abuse in Malaysia, Wong says the foundation co-sponsored a “train the trainers” session on preventing child sexual abuse. Forty-five teachers from various Chinese schools attended the session, which was facilitated by staff of the Women Development Centre.
Even though Nanyang Foundation is now geared toward organising more activities related to human development, says Wong, this will not get in the way of their other charity work.
An MOU signed between the foundation and Tung Shin Hospital, Kuala Lumpur this month is proof of this.
“We will undertake to provide capital expenses to set up a haemodialysis centre in Tung Shin Hospital. The hospital will provide their medical expertise and treatment for the patient, so this is a very good joint venture,” he says.
Wong firmly attributes the success of the foundation over the past five years to the kind and generous people who have come forward to help improve the lives of so many who are unable to help themselves.
Expressing his satisfaction in the foundation's ability to bring people who can help together with those who are in need, he says: “As an individual, nothing much can be done. Thus, we at the foundation are very glad to be able to round up all these good people who give the needy hope to live on.”
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