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This page is updated on 2006-07-27 12:04
Christian Service News
Issue 43 (April 2004)
Chief Executive's Column
Acquiring Resources is not the Core Issue of Voluntary Agencies Nowadays
Chief Exectuive
NG Shui Lai

In the past, voluntary agencies (VAs) were generally considered as heroes for the underprivileged in our community. They would provide necessary services and acted as advocates for the needy. As such, challenges were unlikely whenever resources were raised to meet the demand of their services.

Today, voluntary agencies operate under a rather different environment. The disparity appears to be two-fold: firstly, the criteria that qualify agencies for government support; and secondly the more empowered beneficiaries.

Apparently, when the government enacts the new funding mode in granting support to various social services, a tri-party relationship is clearly drawn in the process: the funder, the purchaser and the service provider.

Nowadays a voluntary agency, as a service provider, is required to have a clear and distinct mission and to present itself with a unique identity and role. Henceforth, it must acquire adequate knowledge and skills to function within its defined role.

Furthermore, it is necessary for a voluntary agency to assert itself before the funder its ability to meet specific needs of the community. Demonstration of cost effectiveness is considered essential in this exercise. Bind by the clearly defined tri-party relation, it is; therefore, important that a balance is kept between the survival of the organisation and the purchasers' benefit.

While the operational mechanics adapt to such paradigm shift as far as the government system is concern, voluntary agencies still bear the responsibility to advocate social development. To accomplish such objective today will require a revolutionary strategy differs from what has been. By forming alliance and building network, various stakeholders are encouraged to take part in relevant social development.

Staying abreast in the forefront knowledge and techniques is the best way to combat the current challenge that voluntary agencies are confronted with. By merely focusing on acquiring resources, as some agencies choose to do, will only limit the effectiveness and the level of contribution an agency can offer to the community. Flexibility and willingness to learn from new perspectives are indeed essential elements in keeping itself faithful in its mission as a voluntary agency of the 21st Century.

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