What I Learned About Philanthropy, Fundraising, and Social Impact at IFCAsia in Bangkok | Beth's Blog

What I Learned About Philanthropy, Fundraising, and Social Impact at IFCAsia in Bangkok

Digital Strategy, Fundraising, Innovation, Philanthropy

Last month, I was honored to co-teach a master class and workshops on digital strategy and crowdfunding with Cambodia colleague, Tharum Bun, at the first IFCAsia in Bangkok.    I learned so much about the digital challenges facing Asian NGOs, how these are similar or different from NGOs in other regions, met and connect with amazing people, and was inspired by the speakers I heard and the workshops I took for my own learning. The IFCAsia delivered on all the reasons why someone should attend.

These are two photos of me and Tharum Bun, a Cambodia blogger I met via our blogs back in 2003. In 2005, we got a chance to meet face-to-face in London at the Global Voices Blogging Summit after I transitioned from being the Cambodia bridge blogger. In 2007, over ten years ago, I launched a crowdfunding campaign to participate in the first ever Cambodian bloggers conference, organized by Tharum and colleagues. We’ve stayed in touch over the years – I’ve visited him in Phnom Penh and met his family, he has visited me – we even walked the DISH at Stanford.

Tharum has served as a communications director for a number of international NGOs based in Cambodia, but recently launched his own communications agency.  So, it was really a great honor to co-teach a master class on digital strategy and two crowdfunding workshops.   When you teach internationally, it is important to localize your content and Tharum was able to provide many local and regional examples and tips.   We also had an opportunity to make a recording to deliver some of the content from our workshop that the IFC will make available to small NGOs in other parts of the world.

One thing I really enjoy about the IFC and it was true for the IFCAsia, is the curation and the high quality of the sessions.   The plenary and big sessions were thought-provoking as they were inspiring.

The opening plenary was hosted by the renowned Usha Menon, past chair of the Resource Alliance and celebrated speaker, connector and consultant to the social impact sector.   One of the speakers, Professor Jen Shang, who later did a deeper dive into her research report ” “Tomorrow’s Philanthropy:  Insights into the Future of Philanthropic Innovation.”   I was expecting a boring academic presentation, but Prof Jen is Shang one of the most dynamic speakers I’ve ever heard.   Her report touched on the need for sector collaboration, celebrating mistakes and failures, and innovation.

There was also awards ceremony co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. The Resource Alliance has been presenting the NGO Awards in Thailand, India and Vietnam for 10 years, but 2017 marked a substantial change in the award program’s focus and delivery. The change is intended to honor efforts from all sectors that work toward creating positive, lasting change in the Asia Pacific region: NGO, CSR, individual philanthropy, social enterprise, fundraising, volunteerism, and others. They also had a talented filmmaker capture the winners’ stories in brief videos. If you want to see storytelling at its finest, coupled with breathtaking social impact, watch the videos.

The closing plenary featured Jack Sim, the founder of the social impact movement, The World Toilet Organization.   He shared how he built a global cross-sector movement to support sanitation in developing countries.    He was hilarious as he was inspiring.  He spoke about networked mindsets and how to work across sectors.  If have never heard him speak,  I urge you to carve out 20 minutes and listen to his most recent TedTalk.

He also shared some insights about his new venture,  BoP Hub, a non-profit venture that aims to provide a global platform to forge strategic partnerships between the private sector, social enterprises, subject matter experts and the BoP community, to give individuals at the base of the pyramid a chance to participate in the marketplace activities as consumers and entrepreneurs.

I always welcome the opportunity to observe and participate in other sessions, especially when they use participatory techniques.  Not only is the content superb, but I also observed and took notes about some excellent participatory facilitation techniques.   As a trainer,  one way to learn is to observe and take process notes.   I’ll share that in my next post!


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