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'
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
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.