Charities turn to web for fundraising as pandemic persists

Charity organizations in Macau have been taking steps to advance digital initiatives, including but not limited to fundraising, to help manage the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
At least three such organizations interviewed by the Times have said that they have turned their sights to digital channels for communication, work and fundraising.
“This year, for the first time, we’re introducing e-raffle tickets,” said Isabel da Silva, director of development for the Macau office of Orbis International, the global sight-saving organization that owns a “Flying Eye Hospital” – an aircraft for performing eye surgeries as well as medical training and public education.
The organization runs an annual raffle to attract donations and familiarize the general public with their work. But digitizing the long-standing physical campaign has not been easy. “It was a little challenging to find someone to work with,” the director said. “[But] we are planning to do a bit more on that in the future.”
Despite being hard-hit by the pandemic, the organization’s Macau office decided to do whatever was required. “We’re still continuing with our campaign because I think it’s important to continue to let people know what we’re doing,” the director said. “I think it’s more important to keep the message there and keep people’s support. It’s not about how much.”
She admitted that the organization’s initiatives in Macau have been heavily affected by the pandemic. She also addressed the fact that it has had an impact on all walks of life and that charitable donations have been affected as a result.
“It’s been really tough for the whole Macau economy,” she said. “But I must say there are still a lot of people helping different NGOs, and Orbis of course, but it’s not been easy, for sure.”
She revealed that resources have been directed to combatting Covid-19 globally, making donations for other initiatives tighter than usual. “It’s not been easy for us and [there’s] been a drop,” she said.
Given that people around the world have been encouraged to stay home at one time or another, and social distancing is being promoted in many parts of the world, the organization has employed different strategies to retain its exposure.
“It has been tough, but we’ve continued to reach out,” da Silva said. “We have tried to use this time to employ more digital means to reach out to people and to let more people know about us.”
Social media is a popular means of promotion today, and has been employed by Orbis’s Macau office as well. “We have more regular posts on our WeChat, Facebook page and Instagram,” she said. “We want to reach more people; and … obviously digitally you can reach more people. We have perhaps even been able to reach the younger generations.”
Besides these initiatives, Orbis’s Cybersight program, which started in 2003, has helped the organization’s work globally. “As the Flying Eye Hospital has been grounded due to the pandemic, the program has helped the organization a lot in terms of providing online training and consultation,” da Silva explained. “We’re actually using technology to take our work to another level.”
Another international charity organization, Caritas Macau, which has a much longer history in the territory, has also moved certain work online to continue to help the community.
“We have been doing much work online,” said Paul Pun, secretary-general of the organization’s Macau chapter. “Our website has been promoting our donation channels. We have also used online channels to disseminate information to different groups of people in order to let them know assistance is within reach. Our centers, which help non-resident workers, have drawn much attention and thus helped quite a lot of people.”
Pun has changed his WhatsApp profile picture to a poster of the organization that highlights the various bank accounts held by it. It is for the purposes of encouraging people to make donations without leaving home.
Pun admitted that online channels have taken on an important role in their work in the past few months, as people cannot gather for meetings or even support groups.
However, that does not mean that donations have continued at previous levels. This year, for example, Caritas Macau had to cancel an annual Mother’s Day Charity Lunch sponsored by a local low-profile philanthropist, which has been held uninterrupted for the past two decades or so.
As for the annual charity bazaar, the secretary-general stated that it would, for the time being, go ahead in November. There is still some time until then, and while the development of the pandemic is unpredictable, Pun is only able to say that it may be postponed or canceled if the situation deteriorates.

Categories Headlines Macau