5 Key Takeaways about Philanthropy from Lam Ngoc Thao, LIN Center

The Talk Show “Philanthropy and Stories” has just released episode 1 with the topic “Practice philanthropy in Vietnam, you may not know.” with our amazing host Thai Van Linh and the marvellous guest speaker Lam Ngoc Thao, CEO of LIN Center. Let’s take a look at the 5 key takeaways from the interview with You Impact below:

1. Difference between philanthropy and charity

Philanthropy is an ancient Greek word, it means love for humanity, so philanthropy itself implies that we show love through supporting and helping people in difficult circumstances and needing help. However, in Vietnam, people may be familiar with the concept of Charity rather than Philanthropy. These two concepts are different in terms of approach.

Charity comes from feelings and empathy for situations needing help and because that action comes from our empathy, it will be acted quickly, and it’s more about emergency aid with short-term effects, while philanthropy has a slightly different approach, it’s more about addressing the root causes of economic and environmental problems so its solutions are strategic and having long-term effect as well. I can give you an example to see the differences. For example, when we walk on a street and see a child selling lottery tickets and we want to help that child because we see a very pitiful situation. The action comes from our feelings so it’s a charity practice. 

However, still a situation of a child selling lottery tickets, but we see more broadly, it is a country problem such as poverty or child labour, so to solve this problem it needs a strategic solution and long-term, it also requires the cooperation of many different sectors, including the government, corporations and social organizations. That’s the difference between practicing Charity and Philanthropy.

2. Common misconceptions about philanthropy you should know

Two of the most basic and common misunderstandings. The first one is that a social organization or a non-profit organization operates on a voluntary basis,  which is not true. Each non-profit organization or social organization has a mission and a field of activity or communities that they want to support. However, to support this Mission, they still have an operating model and a system to maintain and develop the organization, including a form of business organization such as Marketing Department, Financial Accounting Department, and other parts.

The second misunderstanding is that philanthropic work is only for the rich, in fact, this is even more inaccurate because Philanthropy isn’t just about giving money, there are many ways that we can contribute and make an impact such as contributing our skills, expertise, networks, products, to name but a few.

3. Why should we be optimistic even though we are going through a huge social crisis?

For Vietnamese people, the spirit of “The intact leaves protect the tattered ones” has existed for a very long time and this spirit has shown more strongly and clearly than ever during natural disasters and pandemic crises. 

The first positive sign is the strong participation of all different sectors of society from businesses, individuals, governments, to social organizations, all joining together in order to support those in difficult situations and affected by the pandemic.

A second positive sign is that during the time working with social organizations, I can see the very important and meaningful role of social organizations, especially very small-scale, grassroots organizations such as community organizations, they understand very well the needs of the community and they have very quick and effective responses to help those who are in difficult situations during the pandemic.

More specifically, in the latest covid wave of 2021, starting in May-June this year, LIN initiated the Hand in Hand campaign to support Community Organizations responding to the pandemic. And through this campaign, we recognized more than 120 community organizations that are small but they have a lot of meaningful and effective activities to help those in need and suffering seriously affected by Covid 19 in the Ho Chi Minh City area. 

4. What are the challenges that make philanthropic activities yet fully effective?

Besides those positive signs, we are also facing a number of challenges. In my opinion, recent philanthropic activities haven’t made the best use of it. The first challenge is that we are lacking a mechanism, a program, a unit to coordinate different resources and get them to the right place where it’s needed most.

The second challenge is that, in general public perception, most people are still focusing a lot on charity and emergency relief activities such as gifts giving. There isn’t much thought and practice about philanthropic-oriented activities, and haven’t paid much attention to the long-term solutions.

The third challenge is that the trust and the cooperation between the public and social organizations are still very limited.

5. Three simple steps you can take to start your philanthropic journey

I would like to share the three most basic and the simplest steps you can immediately start your own philanthropic journey. In the first step, you can write down your personal mission, you can answer two questions, the first is what inspires you the most and the second is what causes you want to focus on, for example, if you believe that education can be an effective way to change the world, then you can start from there.

The second step is that you write down an action plan for your philanthropy journey. It can start from figuring out how your chosen cause can create changes, also you can think of how to use your current resources. It doesn’t require a lot of contribution at once, long term commitment and consecutive are very important. 

The final step is that you study the organizations, programs or projects that are in your chosen cause or have an action program that you find suitable to accompany and support for a long time.

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Watch the full 1st episode here: Ep 1: 𝐏𝐑𝐀𝐂𝐓𝐈𝐂𝐄 𝐏𝐇𝐈𝐋𝐀𝐍𝐓𝐇𝐑𝐎𝐏𝐘 𝐈𝐍 𝐕𝐈𝐄𝐓𝐍𝐀𝐌,​ 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐌𝐀𝐘 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐊𝐍𝐎𝐖


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