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Christian Service News

Issue 31 (April 2001)

Topic : Director's Column

Future Development of Social Welfare Organizations under the New Funding Scheme

Mr Ng Shui Lai

The implementation of the lump sum grant in social welfare subvention will definitely affect the management of social welfare organizations. What will the future development be under this new granting scheme?

First of all, social welfare organizations should be more concerned about the new scheme's macro effects, i.e. the government's financial responsibility in social welfare and the issue of resource allocation, than its micro effects, i.e. how the new dispatching of funds will affect the organization's management. Currently, it seems that both individual agencies and the sector as a whole through the Hong Kong Council of Social Service are focusing on the micro effects, and this can be dangerous. A social welfare organization carries a good tradition that its ultimate goal is to develop social welfare services and not the organization itself. Therefore the prime objective in the future development of a social welfare organization is to determine how we can more effectively monitor and reinforce the SAR government in its financial responsibility and resource allocation towards social welfare.

Secondly, from the micro view of the effects on the administrative management, the new scheme does provide an opportunity to develop a unique management culture. Some demerits on the management of a non-profit organization have always been discussed, such as the difficulty to measure service effectiveness, low efficiency, and the lack of award/penalty system. Yet these weaknesses are not necessarily the outcome. In fact, the management of a non-profit organization has some advantages such as more emphasis is placed on processes, more channels are open for communication as well as staff involvement, it is also easier to establish a mutual mission and so forth. Thus for the future development of social welfare organizations, we should regard administrative management as 'The Third Department" and find a management culture and model that is both efficient and humanistic.

As for the area of services, we should regain the spirit of a pioneer as in the early years; never satisfy with providing existing services as the goal, but dare to face risks, to engage in research and to advocate services to the most needed. Obviously, working towards these goals we have to overcome many problems; however, during the development in the past decades, most organizations have surrendered and lost the resoluteness in this respect. Yet the new trend has brought forth a new chance for the organizations to realize the need to continue development towards this goal.

The three areas of development mentioned above are discussed here conceptually; the tactics and skills to implement will definitely require more interactions and communications.