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This page is updated on 2006-07-27 12:04
Christian Service News
Issue 43 (April 2004)
Opioion Feedback
Is Matching Grant an effective way to spur corporate donations?

In his 2004-05 Budget Pronouncement, the Financial Secretary announced that the Government would earmark a one-time grant in the amount of two hundred million dollars to promote a tripartite partnership projects among the Government, the autonomous businesses and the welfare and social service agencies. The decision attempts to motivate corporate involvement in helping the disadvantaged.

While we welcome this positive move by the government to rightly recognise the significance of partnership approaches in the enhancement of social cohesion in Hong Kong, we would make some suggestions as to the ways that the funding may best be utilized.

First of all, we have a rather different view toward a particular scenario that the Financial Secretary recommends as to the employment of this funding, that is in a format of "dollar-to-dollar matching grant".

While the matching method may seem attractive for corporations to commit financially due to its share-base collateral relationship with a government grant, it does not offer equal opportunities but rather creates a difficult competition among social agencies due to the variations of their sizes and their track records in terms of operation and services. Often, these are the factors upon which corporations base their decisions. Therefore, the longer the agency's history and the more equipped its internal operation system, the better the chance for it to receive corporate support; not to mention having a government matching grant to dress up the case even more attractively. Yet most likely, the young and small but legitimately genuine agencies that lack resources and track records are the ones that need the most funding. Under such scrutiny, agencies that are already in need of resources receive little benefit from the matching grant scheme as it literally helps speed up the success rate of mature agencies obtaining corporate endowment, leaving them a lesser chance to succeed on the same race in comparison. A matching grant will thus bring in a 'leverage effect' that further widens the gap between bigger and smaller welfare agencies.

Rather, we see other avenues that might enable this subvention achieve its intent effectively. A facilitating platform, functions like a trade fair, that holds a large-scale database may efficiently and impartially serve to match eligible agencies and willing corporations with expectations from both sides clearly established. To further demonstrate that the government supports and encourages such partnership arrangement, related activities might be arranged to hearten corporate participation by giving them opportunities to gain understanding between the two parties. Other possibilities include an option for social agencies to apply from the same grant a portion to put together programs that publicise and encourage the practice of partaking in the three-way partnership projects.

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