【明報專訊】Last month, the fire in Notre Dame Cathedral inspired an international outpouring of support with over USD$1 billion pledged in just a few days. An online debate broke out and wealthy individuals and companies such as L'Oreal, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel were criticised for sending large amounts of money to support the restoration of a building rather than donating that money to humanitarian causes.
There will always be different types of urgent causes which require our support. Whether it's clean drinking water, food, shelter or education, there is a seemingly endless list of opportunities to improve the world we live in. As a global leading non-profit housing organisation, we are not debating how "worthy" one cause is over another or how we should prioritise donations. Instead, we would like to encourage people to reflect on how they choose to offer their financial support. We are interested in donors' behaviour and how people choose which cause to support and how they choose to donate over a longer-term period.
According to research by HKU released in 2018, it was found that 83.5% of respondents had donated money to charities and 47.3% said they did volunteer work. Despite a drop in both rates, Hong Kong people are generous with donating their money and time. However, their generosity may not be on a regular basis. The peak time for giving donations is immediately after a disaster or humanitarian crisis incident, especially when the news coverage highlights injured or dying people, children in distress, collapsed homes or displaced vulnerable groups. Tragedies always inspire immediate donations from around the world. However, not many people choose to provide continuous support for disaster‑prone areas, where a regular stream of income is needed to build the capacity of disaster resilience before the next disaster.
Increasingly, the general public is more mindful when considering philanthropic donations and donors have become more strategic in their giving. They are looking for ways to evaluate and increase the impact of their philanthropy. Some of our donors also choose to volunteer with us to build houses and keenly monitor the philanthropic initiative they have supported. It is an encouraging trend in the philanthropy sector, especially for our organisation, as shelter is the foundation of everything in our lives and requires sustainable investment into it to build communities.
■By Jo Hayes, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong