3 Things We Learned from Building a Charity in Hong Kong

1iXzLPIT6qA7iefY kM0bVw scaled
XGD Media sponsoring our presence at LKF

2017 is a big deal at Time Auction. We’ve just gotten our first full-time employee, our charity status (read: you can now donate money to us and pay less taxes), an office (read: 1 desk) and raised funding to go all in on our mission.

Things just got real. We’re now officially a charity.

For 2.5 years, Time Auction has been a side project outside of our day jobs. We worked during lunch, on weekends, in gym changing rooms and on the MTR. What made this possible was a genuine love for what we do and the most understanding bosses.

Here’s what we’ve learned from building a charity in Hong Kong.

How to get started, legally

Once we had the idea, we registered Time Auction as a non-profit society which basically tells the government your organization exists. This simple process takes about a week, where you have to submit your organization’s info and minimum 3 members (the 2 founders and one of our moms in this case).

If you want to take in donations and register as a charity, you can apply for section 88 Charity Status.

Here’s a guide. It takes at least 6–9 months where you have to submit things like your Plan for the next 18 months, Company Articles and Financials. This is similar to college application in a way that involves lots of late night drafting and re-drafting documents as you’d want to get this right.

Disclaimer: We’re not lawyers (surprise!) so seek your own legal advice. JTC Solicitors has been incredibly helpful for us and if you’re looking for pro-bono lawyers, check out Pilnet.

How not to help a charity

We’re thrilled to have our 8 core team members, made up of entrepreneurs, professionals and 1 high-flying student. Truly, nothing means more to us than them believing in Time Auction.

This process has brought light to a mistake many people make in helping charities, even with good-hearted intentions. Here’s what often happens:

Volunteer: I’d love to help. I think you should do this marketing idea.

Time Auction: Great idea!

Volunteer: I’m glad I helped!

The reality is that the idea will never get executed as the charity has no additional capacity to do it. Here’s what the best people do:

Volunteer: I think you should partner with this organization.

Time Auction: Great idea!

Volunteer: I’ll schedule a call with them this week. I’ll loop you in if they’re open to next steps.

1FLPxdaoDLZD0Adfn 4RbfA

Charities operate like lean startups where every minute and dollar is used most efficiently and effectively. Don’t just give advice, give executional help.

Social Enterprise vs Charity?

Should Time Auction be a charity or a social enterprise was a question we debated with for a long time. In the early days, we wanted to be a social enterprise (wouldn’t it be nice to make money while doing good?). Eventually we decided to become a charity and here’s why.

Legally (in Hong Kong anyway), there is no difference between a business and a social enterprise.

From a funding perspective, charities can fund raise from donors while social enterprises may not. Being a social enterprise means at times we have to prioritize either revenue or social impact (do we charge ticket sales or keep them free for underprivileged students?). Being a charity allows us to grow with a single focus — creating a world where everyone pays it forward with time, talent or resources to ultimately empower the next generation.

Time Auction is a charity that connects you with inspiring mentors while encouraging volunteerism. You can meet and dine with Hong Kong’s most brilliant minds just by volunteering 10 hours to any charity.

Since inception in 2014, over 8,000 volunteer hours have been raised featuring mentors including Allan Zeman (Godfather of LKF), Jim Thompson (Founder of Crown Worldwide Group), Ray Chan (CEO of 9GAG) and many more.

This article originally appeared on our blog on Medium: https://medium.com/time-auction/3-things-we-learned-building-a-charity-in-hong-kong-9a33cf6931c7

Updated on 8 April, 2021
Share on

Volunteer Your Skills for Worthy Causes

Ever thought you could volunteer with your skills?

Discover volunteer projects where you can use your skills to support causes – all while building your resume, gaining references and making a difference!
Discover Projects

The Secret Nightlife that bred a Politician— Dinner with Christine Loh, Under Secretary of the Environment

Sometimes the most meaningful and inspiring conversations happen over casual meals. The Time Auction Blog is a snippet of our meetings with people who have found passion in their life and career, where we get a glimpse into their mentality and attitude behind their ventures and stories. From commodities trading, founding think-tank Civic Exchange to […]

Connecting the Dots: Investment Banking to FinTech — Dinner with Sam Ng, Co-Founder of Fundnel

Sometimes the most meaningful and inspiring conversations happen over casual meals. The rel="noopener nofollow">Time Auction where you can meet Hong Kong’s most astonishing people by volunteering 10 hours to charity. What did the volunteers think? Stephanie: Interesting meeting with Sam and I learned a lot from his mistakes. Things that seem to be common sense […]

Community Spotlight: Chris Mak, Civil Engineer

Curious about what volunteerism and Time Auction events are all about? Meet our community who has shared their memorable experiences in their volunteering journey and meetings with our featured guests! Meet Chris Mak! Chris is a civil engineer and his daily tasks include calculations, site monitoring and project management. He is a football enthusiast and […]

Community Spotlight: Karen Yiu, Entrepreneur

Curious about what volunteerism and Time Auction events are all about? Meet our community who has shared their memorable experiences in their volunteering journey and meetings with our featured guests! Meet Karen Yiu! Karen joined the advertising industry after graduation. After contributing in the customer marketing field for more than a decade, she decided to […]

Fave announces one-year Sponsorship for Time Auction Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta

Fave is excited to announce a one-year sponsorship with Time Auction, a charity that connects young adults to inspiring mentors while encouraging volunteerism. By volunteering 10 hours to any charity, one can join a meal and learn from guests including Founder of AirAsia, 9GAG, Canva, Casetify and many more. Time Auction is already present in […]

How Bryony from YMCA of Hong Kong Matched with the Perfect Volunteers | Time Auction Impact Highlights

Meet Bryony from YMCA of Hong Kong! Bryony is the Communications Manager at YMCA of Hong Kong, an NGO that strives to provide holistic services for those in need in order to help them actualize their dreams! Since YMCA of HK already has a well-established volunteer movement of its own, why did they still reach […]