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How charities work and how corporations can help

On 6 August, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) committee hosted a lunch to which they invited representatives from three of Taiwan's most reputable foundations. The event was moderated by Vickie Lin & Peter Tou, Co-Chairs of the CSR committee. Guest speakers were Chi Hui-jung, CEO of the Garden of Hope Foundation; Hu Yui-fung, Director of Public Relations, Children Are Us Foundation and Joyce Lin, Business Liaison Officer for the Society of Wilderness. Guests first gave brief overviews of their organisations, after which a panel discussion was held to discuss how companies can help them.

The Garden of Hope Foundation was established in 1988 to help and empower disadvantaged girls and young women. In particular, the foundation helps girls caught in the sex industry and victims of sexual and domestic abuse. From one halfway house, the foundation's services have grown to include shelters and service centres island-wide that provide everything from counseling and temporary housing, to employment training, social work and legal aid. This includes outreach programs for "at-risk" teenagers, services for immigrant spouses and family counseling. The foundation also contributes to research and government discussions on policy. This has included working on a number of key laws involving child welfare and women's rights, such as eliminating discrimination and promoting equality.

The Children Are Us Foundation was founded by a group of parents whose children have mental disabilities. The foundation helps to provide lifelong care and education aimed at giving people with mental disabilities dignity and happiness. One of the charity's main initiatives is the Children Are Us bakeries, restaurants and factories, which has become a model social enterprise in Taiwan, providing meaningful employment and fulfilment to people under the foundation's care. With professional physiotherapy and work guides, the charity helps to improve the skills and physical capabilities of people in their care, promoting their ability to work, encouraging them to be independent and helping them to find a meaningful place in society. The foundation also runs a theatre troupe, a farm and a care centre for elderly people.

The Society of Wilderness (SOW) is dedicated to protecting the environment for future generations by obtaining guardianship or managing authority of wilderness areas through purchases, long term leases or funding from commissions and donations. The group aims to involve every citizen in the protection and conservation of wilderness areas by re-connecting people with nature and through nature education. In particular, its educational programmes for young children are aimed at increasing the environmental awareness of the next generation and inspiring them to respect and protect the environment.

In the panel discussion, representatives talked about how corporations can help. Of course, financial help in the form of donations is needed and welcomed by the groups. In the case of the Children Are US foundation, buying goods from one of their bakeries or eating in one of their restaurants is an easy way to support them. In addition, the charities also welcomed opportunities for cooperation with corporations, as long as their motivations are sincere and their goals are aligned. Panelists gave several examples of activities that they hold in conjunction with corporations, some initiated internally and others initiated by corporations. These have included fund-raising and educational activities. With their marketing and organizational skills and large networks, corporations can help to spread the word and attract participants for fund-raising activities such as marathons. Panelists also welcomed help in the form of professional services, such as legal services offered pro-bono, or free technical expertise to help with educational programmes. In addition, a number of programmes require volunteers.

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