Case study: Developing community philanthropy in Vietnam – part-way there

Dana Doan

LIN Center for Community Development (LIN) was set up in Ho Chi Minh City in 2009 to ensure that local people were actively involved in addressing local problems. As such, one of its objectives was to focus on building local donor support for its work. Though this aim remains central, there is a long way to go to achieve it.

When most Vietnamese think about giving, they think about short-term relief efforts that address what are referred to as ‘legitimate causes’ (poverty, disability, disaster). LIN was not seen in these terms. Another challenge was a lack of trust in intermediary organizations due to corruption issues in Vietnam.

Moreover, LIN had no track record and introduced new terms and approaches, such as skilled volunteering and community foundations. We anticipated difficulties attracting cash contributions. Nevertheless, we were successful in securing in-kind support. Individuals and companies contributed services, products, staff time and even equipment, all of which were needed to implement LIN’s annual action plan and helped to reduce our expenditure.

As LIN gained experience and built a reputation in the community, prospective donors began to respond more favourably to annual appeals. Still we only raised local funds for our small grants programme or individual workshops, not for the operation of LIN itself. Our operating costs and other programmes were still largely dependent on the support of international donors.

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