Walk Further Ahead – Breaking the Internal Dilemma
In Hong Kong's seemingly diverse society, there has never been much room for young people to discuss sex. Sexuality education, which includes sexual behaviour, sexual orientation, and gender expressions, is unquestionably frowned upon in schools. School officials are concerned that their students would share the educational experience with their conservative parents and be misinterpreted as advocating homosexuality. "School officials have repeatedly told us to emphasise that the national constitution forbids same-sex marriage before the workshop ends." Kitty, the Director of Sticky Rice Love, a non-profit organisation dedicated to establishing an inclusive atmosphere for young people to discuss sex, argues that these external challenges are what motivate Sticky Rice Love to keep moving forward. However, nearly ten years after its establishment, the organisation's inner struggle has left her and Julia, the founder, torn.
"The organisation has faced several problems in recent years. For example, we lack a well-defined structure and development strategy. Neither of us came from a management background. As a result, when the organisation sought long-term development, we were perplexed and helpless. Recruiting full-time employees, establishing MPF systems, purchasing insurance, staff performance review and improvement suggestions, fundraising methods, and even accounting audits...We know nothing about these." Julia recalled their frustration. "When we tried to seek funding from particular foundations, they would turn us down because they believed we were unorganised and lacked the structure to handle projects." This would impede the organisation's long-term development," she added.
"When we were stuck and reaching the bottleneck, I suddenly think of Judy" (the Executive Director of HER Fund). I didn't know her well and had just asked her for advice on running a small organisation once on an occasion that we met. I hesitated for a bit before gathering the courage to approach her for more specific suggestions. I'm glad I made this call." Julia stated. In the call, Judy suggested Sticky Rice Love apply for HER Fund's general grant, which was established to support small organisations’ development. "There are very few funders willing to fund internal development." Julia was delighted that her unintended call had brought a breakthrough for Sticky Rice Love.
Sticky Rice Love was referred to a professional consulting team by HER Fund after successfully applying for the fund. They were able to clarify the organisation’s mission and vision, five-year development plan, fundraising strategy, and so on with their assistance. "The consultants paid close attention to our needs. When we were doubting ourselves, their acknowledgement boosted our confidence. They listened carefully and provided advice that was appropriate for a small organisation, in contrast to how commercial the other consultants may be." Looking back on the last consultation session, Kitty was moved by a seemingly rational consultation relationship. Both parties eventually shared their experiences genuinely and shed tears.
Kitty went on to say that HER Fund is more sensitive to the needs of small organisation than other funds, "HER Fund has a large supporting network and they are really caring. They give professional services (such as filling out applications, making contracts, and providing insurance) whenever we need them. From our perspective, they provide competent and humane counsel, such as suggesting systemic recording and consolidation of organisational data for future publicity and analysis. All of these have eased the workload of our frontline colleagues, allowing them to focus on their work." She giggled when she mentioned how the reconstruction had resulted in a gradual turnaround, including the organisation’s first year of surplus income since its establishment.
Julia and Kitty both felt that HER Fund is highly compassionate and is not solely concerned with the numbers of service recipients and performance indicators. "They understand the concerns of small organisations and are eager to support them. They were not rigid, and they based their decisions on service projects and front-line co-workers." Perhaps this is what mutual respect and accompaniment truly mean.
Translation: Yasmine Fali