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Christian Service News

Issue 32 (July 2001)

Topic : Director's Column

Business and Community Partnerships

Mr Ng Shui Lai

Corporate citizenship is a growing concern of business in developed countries. It is a broad and holistic notion that a company examines the efficacy and ethics of all aspects of its operations. Stakeholders including shareholders are increasingly demanding companies to not just look after the employees and the profit of the company but also to be a good corporate citizen to invest in research and development, to protect the environment and to be charitable.

The traditional model and the first step of corporate citizenship is corporate philanthropy. We are certainly aware that corporate philanthropy is just a part of and is not the same as corporate citizenship. However, here we would like to focus on this most common form of corporate citizenship.

Corporate philanthropy can take many forms. Donation is the most common one. Donations can be in cash, in kind or of professional expertise. Many companies encourage or organize their staff to do volunteer work in social service organizations. Some companies are forming a more strategically planned partnership and alliance with social service organizations.

Hong Kong is a much-developed society in terms of its economic development. However, there still is room for development in corporate philanthropy. Research in the United Kingdom (David Grayson, January 1998, Business in the Community, Lecture, London) suggested that there have been three stages of corporate community involvement since early 1980s. The first stage is philanthropy driven from a sense of moral and social responsibility. The second stage is strategic philanthropy driven by a longer-term self-interest. The third stage is community investment driven by long-term self-interest.

There has been no systematic information and analysis in Hong Kong as to where we are in this continuum. However, there should be no argument that we are in the very beginning of this continuum of development of corporate philanthropy.

New and demanding needs in our community are increasing. It is also clear that the social welfare policy in Hong Kong is not of one that is moving towards a welfare state. Joint efforts from all sectors are called for to create a just, participatory and sustainable society. In this regard, corporate philanthropy is an area that deserves more attention.

Compare to other social service organizations, we are one of those who receive relatively low percentage of government funding (about 60% of total income). Hong Kong Christian Service has a long history of support from the community in terms of donations and volunteers. We are looking forward to an even closer partnership with corporations in forming strategic alliances for the improvement of the community where we live and work.