From Side Hustle to a Charity in 7 Cities, Here’s Our Story.

1ofWR2T9PRy6dmuqz1fMm5A scaled

This is a sharing by Fion Leung, Co-founder of Time Auction, during Opening Remarks at Time of Our Lives — a fifth anniversary celebration event featuring 20 inspiring guests for a lunch and afterparty, where 90 participants volunteered 1,566 hours to charities to join.

“We are so happy you are here today. Thanks for coming to our fifth anniversary event with us!

5 years ago, Suetyi and I were working in finance. One thing we kept hearing is “do what you love”. “Do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” that’s what Confucius says. “Do what you love. The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” famously said by Steve Jobs. We were definitely not loving what we do back then and since work takes up 70% of our time, we really wanted to have a career we’re passionate about but not sure how.

1SOGpka0Gp y4557c4CMbtg scaled

So we went to a lot of startup events and one night after an event, we decided to start a side project. What if we can meet people who’ve crafted their own path and made a name for themselves, meet them as a friend and ask them anything we want, while making the world a better place?

As you know, the idea is simple — we ask an inspiring leader to donate a lunch or dinner, anyone can join, they’ll just have to volunteer 10 hours to any charity.

So with a full-time job, we worked on this at lunch, on the weekends, and also secretly at work when our boss isn’t looking.

Lunch with Ray, Founder of 9GAG in Aug 2014

Here’s one of our first ever events with Ray, Founder of 9GAG — because we had lunch near the 9GAG office in Tsuen Wan and we worked all the way in Central, we ended up taking a 4-hour lunch break that day. When I rushed back to work, I think my boss might have thought about firing me.

But somehow in the next two years, we managed to host about 50 of these events, and people volunteered over 6,000 hours at different charities and joined us. We realized that people love this casual way of learning and we also love what we do. So we became a registered charity, did some fundraising, and started growing this properly.

Fast forward to today, we now host 1–2 events every week in Hong Kong, and have expanded to 6 other cities — Singapore, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Sydney, and San Francisco, with Kuala Lumpur coming up soon.

1fOHfYFBMCISM6oOWkEJspQ scaled
107SZ98cprq2tsegYm9XgGA scaled
15gXlI JKbYbLNj5aSYrIrw scaled
19lB6MYnCzP7w1hk0yNnCMw scaled
Time Auction events in Los Angeles, Melbourne, San Francisco, Singapore and Sydney (top left to bottom right).

All of these international chapters are entirely run by volunteers outside of their day job, just like we did 5 years ago!

Volunteers running Time Auction chapters in their city.

If you’ve volunteered before, you know it doesn’t stop there. It teaches you something.

Volunteering at beach cleanups (left) and ImpactHK (right) which helps the homeless.

I’ve volunteered with ImpactHK which helps the homeless, and now I know there are people who’re suffering so much “living” not that far away from us. I’ve volunteered at beach cleanups, and I’ve seen so much plastic that the first thing I did after was to get myself a reusable coffee cup. Now, whenever someone offers me a straw or a single-use plastic bottle, this is what I think of.

Volunteering is real-world education. Once you have the awareness, it stays with you and changes how you operate and see the world.

1Y0BxlocIic1zOjO sq6BLQ scaled

To date, our community has volunteered over 50,000 hours.

To put it in perspective, if you can drive around the earth, that’s the time it takes to drive around it 100 times. That’s a lot of volunteering!

So we’re really happy that you’re here today, because the fact that Time Auction exists and we were able to have the growth that we’ve had, show that there are a lot of kind, driven and generous people in the world.

Participants and Featured Guests at Time of Our Lives

Each of you have volunteered 15 hours to charities to be here. Look around the room, we have students, working professionals, people from different ages and backgrounds, people who’re joining us for the first time today and for someone in the audience, for the 66th time. You all take time to give back and learn to better yourselves, and that to me is really inspiring.

We have such an exciting lineup of guests with us today — people who we’ve had the honour to feature in our first year like Ray and Aaron; people who became our advisors, Angie and Jim; our volunteer emcee Vivek, and all of you who make up such a diverse and inspiring group of leaders that we wouldn’t even be able to dream about having in the beginning.

I hope you all have fun, meet a lot of new friends and enjoy celebrating our fifth birthday with us. Thank you so much for all your support!”

1cLAMWRowBmYH29TiyOTGIg scaled
Pay it forward!

If you like our story, please click “applaud” so more people can see it. Thank you!

Time Auction is a Hong Kong registered charity (# 91/15276) that connects young adults with inspiring leaders while encouraging volunteerism. Started in 2014, over 50,000 volunteer hours were raised as of April 2019 with operations in 7 cities.

To see upcoming events, visit our website. To support our mission, make a tax-deductible donation here.

This article originally appeared on our blog on Medium:

Updated on 9 March, 2022
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 Journey to be a Google MD — Lunch with Leonie Valentine, MD of Sales & Operations, Google HK

“Your 20s are about exploration, 30s for consolidation, and 40s for acceleration.” At lunch with Leonie Valentine, Managing Director of Sales and Operations at Google Hong Kong. We learnt that career isn’t a smooth climb on the ladder, and often it takes decades of trial and error before you can find the right direction and […]

Community Spotlight: Kenneth Lui, IT Professional

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! “My love and will to help was inspired by those around me. ” It was a great pleasure to have Kenneth to share his insights […]

How Emma Discovered Her Passion During Skilled-Volunteering | Swire Trust Go-Givers of 2021

Together with Time Auction, the Swire Trust Go-Givers Program encourages skilled volunteers for Swire Trust NGOs partners from 2020 to 2022. 10 outstanding volunteers will be selected annually as the “Swire Trust Go-Givers of the Year” with special rewards & recognition. Meet our 10 Go-Givers of 2021! Meet Emma! Emma is currently a Strategic Brand […]

What we’ve learned from 100 Time Auction Mentors

Time Auction was born out of a quarter-life crisis. 3 years ago, we were at a startup event. Many attendees (ourselves included) were there to explore and answer a question — How do you find your life’s passion and a career you love? On our way out, we were chatting about the idea of Time […]

How Law Student Catherine Channels Education Into Volunteer Work | Time Auction Impact Highlights

Meet Catherine! After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature and Sociology, Catherine is now pursuing a postgraduate law degree. Prior to joining the Time Auction community, she already had abundant experiences in volunteering. From teaching underprivileged children to planning accessible classical music events, it’s clear that this is not her first rodeo as a […]

2018 was lit — Time Auction Impact Report

2018 has been a big year — we have a record high number of volunteer hours and launched Time Auction in 3 more cities! Together, our community volunteered over 12,018 hours to charities (that’s 1,460 working days!), joined 71 meaningful conversations with leaders in business, government, entertainment and non-profits, and completed 207 empowering and challenging […]