Here at SVG, we have seen great change both internally with our staff and projects as well as across China's social sector. There have been many highlights that we have showcased in our latest edition of our newsletter 'Doing Good.' (To download, please click here.)
We want to give a special thanks to our partners, both old and new, for working with us to help build a stronger and more sustainable nonprofit sector.
If you as an individual or an organization would like to get more involved in giving back to the many communities here in China in need, please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to share with you the many ways you can help in accelerating the growth of grassroots NPOs who can in turn then better serve their communities.
It is not common behavior in China to be involved in community service projects and or engaging with strangers you see in your every day activities. After moving from an academically driven high school in the suburbs of Silicon Valley to a more closed urban New England culture for university, I found myself appalled by an incompetent recycling program. How could such an established university not sort aluminum cans from plastic bottles? “Laurie, don’t you realize that California has brainwashed you to be a tree-hugger?” my mom responded.
My parents, as Taiwanese immigrants, would dread taking their three children on annual camping trips that their friends would organize. “We worked so hard to have a house and beds to sleep in. Who would choose to sleep on the cold ground in a flappy tent?” It is because of my parents’ view that enjoying the great outdoors and helping people in society is odd that I am able to understand why many individuals I encounter in China do not understand my choice to engage in the social sector. In fact, when explaining to the very individuals these nonprofits support that I actually enjoy this work, I am met with long stares and folded eyebrows.
In June of this year, I decided to join SVG and work on a specific project because the client’s vision to start a hospitality vocational school in Shanghai struck a chord with me. At first I thought the timeline was too short to prepare the many components needed to launch the program but two key people assured me that enough support would be present during the decision-making and execution process. They were right. This project has received miracle upon miracle of resources and personnel exactly at the right time and the program began successfully and on-time. The experience was so great that I have decided to extend my time with SVG to follow along with the program’s development. While this client’s vision is to see the students' lives transformed through increased potential for their futures, my vision is to see China’s majority take the every day opportunities to engage and reach out to the marginalized communities.
Laurie Lin has been living in Shanghai, China for almost ten years. Her favorite organizations that she supports and has worked with include Home Sweet Home, Eden Ministry, and now this vocational training program.
Abby Zhang is a project advisor here at SVG and with over 15 years of experience as an accountant for international foundations and the local Chinese government, she provides financial advise to our many NPO partners and the programs they execute. Abby was recently sent to our NPO partners in Western China to evaluate their budget adherence and financial record keeping.
Here at SVG, we encourage ethical financial reporting to all of our NPO partners, which we recognize can be challenging when resources are limited. For example, typically it is more economical to purchase goods from a smaller vendor versus a large chain. Unfortunately, these smaller vendors can not provide the proper receipts and documentation (发票) needed to claim these costs. Organizations then must make a decision as to which is more important – save money or adhere to proper record keeping regulations.
Based on observations made during this trip, the SVG team and Abby began thinking about ways we can instill healthier long-term financial habits within these organizations through positive reinforcement. Often times, donors do not understand the current climate or reasons why decisions are made and actions completed. We want to help potential donors and foundations to better understand.
Understanding the Situation – At SVG, we value the importance of understand the situation and environment that our partnering organizations work in. It is easy for those who are not in the situation to offer quick judgment and suggestions that are not helpful. We want to understand what it is like for these organizations to execute on-the-ground work and how we can help them to slowly become more established and better serve their communities. Regardless of the situation, the SVG team wants to look at the current situation as a starting point and find concrete ways we can help them grow.
Budgets on a Project versus Organization Level – Often times, we see organizations here tracking the budget on a program-level and not on an organization-level. This is typically because donors require budgets on a program-level. The organization does not have enough resources to hire an accountant to examine the budget on an organization- level even though this is necessary for the long-term sustainability of the NPO.
Audits are Positive – Through some of our programs, we can send an auditor to our partnering organizations to evaluate their overall financial situation. After we review their organization’s budget and share with them the results, we are often able to provide funding for professional finance software which may solve their challenges or funding for professional consultants like Enyou. These firms train the staff on how to properly run their financial department. Enyou can also evaluate the organization’s assets and in addition to setting up a long-term financial strategy, they look at the organization’s tax category and options for development funding. If an organization has the right resources, we can alternatively pay for professional financial software.
Use Available Tools – There are a few financial tools already available for free to NPOs here in China. SVG can help evaluate whether these tools are suitable for a particular organization.
Taxes Owed and Tax Benefits – Ensure organizations are paying the proper taxes and also verify organizations are receiving the tax benefits owed to them.
If you have additional questions regarding financial audits for NPOs here in China, feel free to contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!
No matter the industry, it is important that every organization has a brand brief. This not only helps employees better understand their employer’s brand but more importantly, the organization becomes easily recognizable in a sea of competitors. The New York Times font, McDonald’s golden arches, Apple’s iconic Macintosh apple are all examples of strong associations that have been created through strategic branding.
When creating a brand brief, your organization should include the following:
The Brand & Business: Give a quick summary of the history of your organization and what you do.
Target Audience: Who are you helping? Who is interested in supporting the crucial work you do?
Communication through Visuals: Without verbally communicating, you can relay your values and priorities through your visual presentation.
For example, straight lines and sharp corners can often convey precision and accuracy and bright colors can exemplify a bold organization that stands out. It is always important to spend time thinking from the perspective of your target audience.
Questions to ask yourself when listing your organization’s values: Are you different than other organizations and how are you portraying this? Are you relatable to your audience? In an industry that in China has been plagued with scandals, are you conveying that your organization values transparency?
Logo – Make sure your team knows the specifications for your brand. Make sure it’s always being proportionally enlarged!
Colors – Choose a specific color palette and only use these colors. They will be associated with your organization and you want to solidify that connection.
Fonts – Again, choose 1-2 fonts and only use these fonts for all marketing materials
Do’s and Do Not’s – Specifically list out misuses of your logo, color and fonts so when team members create marketing materials, they have a clear guideline which they can use.
Consistency – The most important part of visual identity is consistency. The visuals do not need to be elaborate but always consistent.
Mood Board: Visually give your designers and others an idea of the look of your company
Additional Notes: Are there any ideas or points you need to convey?
Branding can seem like a superfluous component to a company in comparison to program implementation issues, staffing programs or lack of funding but some time spent on strategically spent on developing a strong brand can help the longevity and success of your organization.