Simon, a new addition to the SVG team and China’s nonprofit sector was dispatched to Shenzhen to cover the second annual China Charity Fair.
After joining the SVG team two months ago, I was sent to Shenzhen for the second annual China Charity Fair. Since I am new to the nonprofit sector, I spent the first part of my time at SVG acquainting myself to China's nonprofit sector. There are so many specialized names and terms unique to this industry that I felt like I was learning a new language. I was eager to attend this Charity Fair to increase my knowledge of the sector. I found that after spending two days at the fair speaking to various organizations about the work they do and attending different events put on by the fair, I now have a much more concrete view of China’s social sector.
The following are my three observations and takeaways from the Charity Fair:
1. Scope of Work – As I walked through the booths at the fair, I noticed that many of the organizations serving a specific target population were focused on poverty alleviation, education, or disaster relief. There also seem to be a growing number of organizations providing professional skills and services specifically to the nonprofit sector like report writing, monitoring and evaluation, fundraising, and IT support. It seems that with time, the merging of these two scopes of work with professional skills and services tailoring to a specific target population will be beneficial to the industry.
2. Collaboration is Key – No one organization is able to solve a society-wide problem on its own. Nonprofits, stakeholders, government entities, corporations, foundations, influential individuals need to pool their resources and knowledge to help alleviate these issues.
3. Learning from the Next Generation –Since the social sector in China is still in a relatively early stage, organizations are not set in their ways and are open to new approaches. The recent college graduates and the younger staff members who may lack in experience are leveraging new technology and fresh approaches to attack many social concerns.
Overall, the charity fair provides an opportunity and platform for people who work in the social sector to gather, build relationships, and start collaborations. It is a particularly great opportunity for those new to the industry, like myself, to gain a better understanding of the landscape of China’s nonprofit sector. The Charity Fair is not geared towards providing a platform for in-depth discussions on the current issues in the industry or forums for specific subsectors to congregate and collectively attack a social issue. It was established as an annual event to give a brief overview of the issues.
As I continue to develop my career in the nonprofit sector, I am very glad I had the opportunity to attend the Charity Fair. I hope that with another year of experience under the organizers’ belts that next year’s Fair will have fewer logistical hiccups and hope that there will be some offerings that offer more in-depth discussions subsector specific. I look forward to increasing my experience in this sector and seeing what is in store for next year’s event.
Contributed by Simon Li