【Philanthropy Forum】The third round of the Dharma Drum Social Philanthropy Forum wraps up

Organized by Dharma Drum University Preparatory Office and co-organized by the Department of Cooperative Economics, Feng Chia University, the third round of the Social Philanthropy Forum―“Social Philanthropy, Innovation, and Private Businesses”―took place at Baoyun Monastery, a branch practice center of Dharma Drum Mountain in Taichung on July 17. Guests attending the Forum included Li Gui-Qiu, director of the Department of Cooperative Economics, and Prof. Guo Di-Xian, both from Feng Chia University, Prof. Chen Ding-Ming of National Central University, the chairman of the Credit Union League of the Republic of China, Jiang Le-Yi, CEO of the Beautiful Taiwan Foundation, representatives from the Homemaker’s Union and Foundation, the Garden of Hope Foundation, and the Taiwan Fund of Children and Families, among other 80 more participants from all walks of society.


The Forum was hosted by Prof. Chen Jin-Gui of the Department of Public Administration and Policy, National Taipei University , who pointed out that social enterprise has become a hot topic lately, which needed to be further delved into and discussed in terms of both perception and practice. Prof. Guan You-Yuan of the Department of Social Welfare, National Chung Cheng University , in giving the main speech, pointed out that innovative entrepreneurs are constantly seeking various opportunities to realize their visions, and social enterprise can serve as a mode to combine social responsibilities and business opportunities. As he stressed, social enterprise may face five kinds of challenge: the build-up of organizational and managerial abilities, the shortage of specialists in social philanthropy, the choice between new and old business models, the identification and recognition from donors and the possible decrease of donations, as well as the doubts toward the operations of social enterprise. Having participated in a meeting on the comparison of social businesses in Hong Kong, Taipei, and Shanghai, convened by Chen Jin-Tang of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Prof. Guan proposed a suggestion of moving toward the direction of training professional managerial talent, building up coordination, collaboration, and strategic alliance, as well as improving the current policies and regulations.


Liu Wei-Hong, vice-CEO of the Sunshine Social Welfare Foundation, gave an introduction of the businesses affiliated with the Foundation. The Foundation includes a social business department that runs a car beauty center, a gas station, and a shop at Guting MRT station, with revenue accounting for a quarter of the Foundation’s annual income. As Liu stressed, businesses need to remain competitive and innovative. For example, the original car wash center run by the Foundation had been transformed into a car beauty center to create more added values, due to the pressure caused by market competition and low margin of profit. Liu identified the key factors to the success of their social businesses as: the proactive participation of the board in planning, the recruitment and deployment of professional managers, disability-friendly environment and facility, the Sunshine brand values and strategic alliance, comprehensive employment services, and the support from professional teamwork regarding social work, psychological counseling, rehabilitation, and administration.


Wu Zhen-Feng, chairperson of the Community Investment and Inclusion Fund in Hong Kong, shared the Hong Kong experience. Endorsed by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, the government of Hong Kong set up the Fund of 300 million Hong Kong dollars. As the seed money, it supports collaboration and innovation among community groups and commercial organizations, encourages mutual concern and assistance among citizens, promotes community participation and cross-industry collaboration, in the hope of establishing social capital. By adopting the idea of social capital and the innovative mode of cross-industry collaboration, the Hong Kong government was effective in inspiring civil innovation and proactiveness.


One of the most extraordinary cases has been its involvement in training mid-age jobless women to become postpartum doulas, successfully turning two cases representing social problem into elements of innovation. With industries moving abroad and going through transformation, many mid-age women therefore lost their jobs. Moreover, there had been more cases of women suffering from postpartum depression and more demand for postpartum doula services. The Fund organized postpartum doula training programs for mid-age women by integrating community resources and the professional assistance from nurses, gynecologists, pediatricians, and nutrition advisors, to provide them with work opportunities. It also offers help to pregnant women in need. This project has been running for years, its professional services and the related media reports have won them words of mouth in market, as well as requests for service. A Labour Aid organization, a cooperative society for women, was formed to foster the network for mutual support and sustainable development. The Fund has put in 300,000 Hong Kong dollars for this two-year project, and has brought about an economic return of more than seven million Hong Kong dollars, as well as a considerable social return, altering the conventional operation for social welfare, creating a new social ecology of win-win situation for women, customers, and society as a whole.


As director Wu pointed out, instead of focusing on the money issue, constrained by the commonly held bottom line of margin, social innovation and social enterprise should regard social capital as the core mission, and aim at developing a social ecology and mutually beneficial network of cross-industry support and participation.


Jiang Le-Yi, CEO of the Beautiful Taiwan Foundation, also advised social enterprises not to take as their only choice of business model a for-profit organization with a mission for philanthropy. As Prof. Chen of the Central University pointed out, more and more businesses are starting to emphasize their social responsibility and join in the efforts by social enterprises.


At the end, on behalf of all the attendees for the Forum, Prof. Liu An-Chi of Dharma Drum University expressed thanks to Dharma Drum Mountain Baoyun Monastery and all the participating volunteer workers for providing a perfect venue and professional service for the meeting. He expected Dharma Drum University to be one that serves as an arena for social enterprises to carry out and promote venture philanthropy to every area of society.