By Christina Ameln, CSR | Sustainability Advisor –
Meet some of the pioneers working on CSR, Sustainability and Community in Vietnam! As part of a series on Vietnam, I will be introducing you to some of them over the summer.
For more background, please read previous article on – A Look into CSR in Vietnam. Happy summer reading!
Introducing Dana R.H. Doan
Founder & Strategic Advisor, LIN Center for Community Development (LIN), www.LINvn.org
Tell us a bit about yourself!
In 2001, I married my best friend and less than a year later we moved from Chicago to Vietnam. Prior to setting up LIN, I worked with not-for-profit organizations in Latin America (U.S. Peace Corps), the United States (Metro Chicago Information Center) and Vietnam (U.S.-Vietnam Trade Council & Education Forum) focusing on improving international relations or building capacity for community development.
In 2009, after working in Vietnam for seven years, I stopped complaining about the lack of resources to nurture locally led development and gathered friends to help establish the LIN Center for Community Development.
LIN is the only organization in Vietnam that provides support services to individual and corporate donors, skilled volunteers and local, not-for-profit organizations.
How has the landscape changed in Vietnam since you started?
The level of interest in CSR and community engagement among businesses in Vietnam appears to be increasing; however, understanding about what that means and how to do it well remains poor. Too many companies are engaged in charity or philanthropic activities but never measure the impact of those activities (just outputs).
At the same time, a number of companies with “CSR initiatives” are violating environmental, ethical or labor standards. Meanwhile, there is mounting consumer pressure (see studies by CIMIGO and Nielsen) and increasing demands by Millennials for companies to make a positive contribution to communities, society or the country. Companies that understand this and take action will fare better than those that continue to stay uninformed, misinformed or inactive.
Define high impact engagement and why you think this is important?
The focus of the conversation right now is on efficiency and transparency while what we need to be thinking about is long-term impact. Most corporate community engagement initiatives that I come across in Vietnam tend to be short-term, one-off or seasonal. That kind of approach really limits the impact a company can have on the community. And while there are some exceptions, community impact appears to be something few companies are interested or able to report on in a meaningful way. Instead, we need to be looking at all the different type of resources a company can bring to help develop the community and commit to measuring the impact of their community activities just as they would for their business activities.
So, instead of planning a corporate day of service, a company might think about building a strategic partnership with a local nonprofit organization. A few, forward-thinking companies are already doing this in Vietnam. Some even allow their employees to take time off of work to contribute their skill sets such as legal, finance, HR, research, project management and communications advice. And, because they are working together over time, companies and nonprofits can work together to monitor and evaluate the impact of their partnership on the community.
How does your organisation LIN work and how does it work with business partners?
LIN Center for Community Development helps local people solve local problems. We empower local nonprofits, skilled volunteers and individual and institutional donors by providing the skills, networks and resources necessary to effectively address local challenges and affect positive change in our community. LIN does this because we believe that increasing local ownership and local accountability leads to stronger communities.
LIN provides a variety of support services to businesses operating in Vietnam that are active or interested in community engagement, such as:
- LIN oi, Where Are We Going? – A half- or full- day event that raises awareness about local causes and nonprofits through exciting team challenges and/or site visits, tailored to meet each company’s specific interests and any existing initiatives (check out this video!).
- Narrow the Gap Community Fund – By engaging people with a shared vision, by pooling available resources and by investing in and monitoring projects that address local needs, the Narrow the Gap Community Fund offers individual and corporate donors, a chance to make a bigger impact whether they seek to contribute funds, resources, services, and/or staff time.
- http://www.vietnamcauses.org/ – An online, searchable directory of Vietnamese nonprofits that helps donors and volunteers identify causes and nonprofits to support.
- http://www.bluebees.org/ – a responsive website that connects prospective volunteers with current opportunities to lend their skill sets to a local nonprofit.
- Networking & Information – LIN hosts regular networking events, such as Mandala Night, which is a monthly event for professionals that are interested to volunteer their skill sets with a nonprofit organization.
How can both individuals and business partners engage with your organization?
That’s easy… they can follow LIN on Facebook to learn about upcoming events and activities, sign up as a skilled volunteer on www.BlueBees.org, attend an upcoming Mandala Night event or reach out to one of the LIN team members to set up a pro bono consultation (email us at: info@LINvn.org or call: +84-8-3512-0092).
- For more about LIN’s programs and services, please visit www.LINvn.org
- For more information on CSR, Sustainability and Community Engagement consultancy company visit – Ameln & Co AB
First published on June 27, 2016 on Linkedin.