Matchmaking between Talents and NGOs — Introducing Time Auction’s New Program


74% of Hong Kong people don’t volunteer. Over the years, I’ve heard many reasons why people don’t get involved.

Too busy, no time.

Am I really making a difference by going to a beach cleanup when the trash accumulates again after all that hard work?

If I make HK$1,000 per day at my job, wouldn’t it be more impactful to donate HK$1,000 to hire 10 cleaners to clean up beaches, than to volunteer and do it myself?

While we believe volunteering is an educational experience to understand the issues first-hand, I hear what they are saying: How do you help where you are needed the most and maximize your impact?

Why Hong Kong Needs Skill-based Volunteering

All charities operate on a limited budget, striving every day to invest every donation dollar to create the greatest impact for their causes.

Most nonprofits don’t have much room to invest in functions such as marketing, design, finance, and technology. However, the need for these skills are great.

The average nonprofit spends just 2% of its budget on overhead, compared with the average business that spends 20% on overhead. Many nonprofits (41%) had to turn to untrained employees for these functions. The result? Inefficient use of time and low quality work due to the lack of expertise.

How Finding the Right Talent Has Helped Our Growth

Looking back on our six-year journey in growing Time Auction from a side project to a charity, there were many pivotal moments — Encounters where our volunteers brought their skills and passions and made a lasting difference. Here are a few examples:

Abby — The Graphic Designer who designed our Annual Report!

Abby has been working as a Designer at a hotel group for four years. When we needed to create our 2019 Annual Report, we didn’t have the budget to hire a designer. Abby volunteered 45 hours in 2 months, brainstorming and creating design drafts according to our brand guidelines. The result is a 32-page beautifully designed publication with both print and digital versions, which serves as a key communication tool to showcase our work and impact whenever we meet with potential donors and stakeholders.

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The making-of (left) and the published Annual Report (right)

John — The Event Planner behind our Anniversary Event “Time of Our Lives”

John has been working as a Wedding Planner for 10 years. When we were planning our first fundraising and community event with 150 participants, our team had no expertise in event planning. Enter John — who volunteered with us in the 8 months leading up to the event, conducting site visits, planning the rundown, music and lighting, and led a team of volunteers on the day. The event went incredibly well with many positive testimonials from our community, and we managed to raise the funding we needed to operate for the rest of the year.

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John (left) volunteering backstage at the event

Aaron — The Entrepreneur who helped us grow from a side project to a charity!

Aaron has been an entrepreneur since he was 17, selling his first business to Groupon and now running a fast-growing co-living company. He saw his entrepreneurial expertise as a vital skill to contribute to nonprofits. During the pivotal year when we turned Time Auction from a side project into a charity, Aaron would spend 3 hours per week with our team, diving in every aspect of scaling our organization — from digital marketing, fundraising to time management. To date, our side project grew into a charity with chapters in 9 cities and 74,000 volunteer hours contributed. To say the least, starting with a resourceful mindset made a huge difference to us as first-time entrepreneurs.

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Aaron participating in one of our many brainstorming sessions (left)

Helping Nonprofits Find the Talent They Need

Time Auction is just one of the 5,000+ servicing nonprofits in Hong Kong with talent needs.

Our survey shows that 92% of nonprofits need skilled volunteers, yet 83% couldn’t find them.

This is due to the lack of recruitment channel — 90% of nonprofits relied on their own circle of contacts.

With a community of working professionals, we launched a pilot program in Sep 2019 to help nonprofits recruit skilled volunteers. In just 10 months, we’ve matched over 1,200 people with 90 nonprofits, such as social media marketers, designers, translators and many more.

With the support from Swire Trust, we are launching a new technology platform to facilitate the matching (kind of like online dating for nonprofits!).

Our new skilled-volunteer matching platform connects nonprofits and volunteers

Nonprofits can post projects on which they are seeking help, detailing the amount of time required and duties involved. Volunteers can apply to projects that match their interests, skills and capacity, then get connected to the nonprofits to see if they are the right match.

Not only can the volunteers help remotely and flexibly, they are also helping charities save costs with their pro-bono services. After contributing their volunteer hours, they can also redeem and join our inspiring learning experiences as a reward!

Be Part of the Volunteer Movement

Whether you’re an individual looking to volunteer your skills or you’re part of a nonprofit group with any volunteer roles to promote, our new skill-based matchmaking platform has a place for you. To get started, click on one of the links below.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Volunteer your skills here:

Sign up as an Organization to recruit volunteers here:


  • “70 per cent of Hongkongers say they intend to do volunteering work, but fewer than a third actually did so in past year”, South China Morning Post, 2017
  • “The Promise of Skills-Based Volunteering”, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2017
  • “Assessing the problem: Underinvestment in organizational infrastructure”, Common Impact
  • Time Auction Skilled Volunteer Survey, 2019

Written by Fion Leung, Co-founder & CEO at Time Auction in August 2020

This article originally appeared on our blog on Medium:

Updated on 8 April, 2021
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