and government funded projects usually have to
go through a long and detailed planning process.
While this is a more comprehensive approach, it
cannot respond to emerging needs in a timely manner.
The programs are also repetitive in patterns and
lack of innovative ideas.
As social needs are constantly changing, the
ability to be innovative is needed for services
to be able to respond timely. Innovation has been
a unique characteristic of voluntary social service
agencies. This feature is one of the important
factors that makes them play an essential role
in social service development.
Unfortunately in recent years, voluntary agencies
are facing great difficulties in performing its
innovative role. This is mainly due to the social
welfare-planning framework in Hong Kong and the
funding model of most of the funding agencies.
In the past when an innovative project demonstrated
its effectiveness and was needed, there was an
established mechanism that it would be discussed
and considered for inclusion in the 5-year social
welfare plan. In which case it would receive government
subvention and become a 'regular' program. Now
that the 5-year plan mechanism no longer exists
and there is no other planning framework in place,
innovative projects become victims of their own
Experience shows that a 3-year period is more
reasonable for innovative projects. However, in
recent years, funding for innovative projects
have been time limited to one or two years only.
Once the pilot period ends and the regular subvention
can no longer cover, innovation will not be able
It is understandable that funding agencies may
want to support more projects and shorten the
supporting periods. But it only makes sense that
an innovative project is given a reasonable period
of time to implement.
Innovation is one of the corner stones of voluntary
agencies. However, the reality is that voluntary
agencies have very little room to be innovative.