The Movement Control Order (MCO) period in Malaysia has been tough for everyone, especially more so for under-served charity organizations, particularly orphanages, old folks home and special care homes, which are facing difficult challenges such as loss of volunteers, funding cuts, and shortages of basic essential goods, such as toilet paper and bread.
For Dassault Systèmes Extraordinary People Series this month, we speak to LEW Yun Loon, Dassault Systèmes’ Senior Manager for DELMIA Hosted Solutions, who is also the co-founder of Malaysian volunteer and crowd-funding online platform, 4Charity at https://www.4charity.my
Since young, Yun Loon has been actively volunteering for charity organizations providing care for the underprivileged in Malaysia. In 2012, noticing the benefits of digitalization to help charity organizations increase donations and volunteer recruitment, Yun Loon got together with like-minded friends to leverage their professional IT skills to start up the 4Charity social services project.
Read more about Yun Loon’s story.
What does 4Charity do and how did it start?
We started with a simple idea on, “How can we contribute our IT knowledge to build a better community for tomorrow?” First and foremost, we realized that there are many generous and caring people in Malaysia who were willing to support and contribute, but they have limited time to volunteer for charity. Even if they find the time, they may not know where to start or which is the right channel to help the underprivileged. With this simple idea and understanding, 4Charity was born with the tagline, “To build a better community for tomorrow”.
4Charity is a crowd-funding platform to raise funds in cash or provisions for underserved charity organizations, such as orphanages, old folks home and special care homes in Malaysia. The platform is open to the public to support and pledge for various charity fund-raising campaigns. On a monthly basis, we will deliver the donated provisions directly to the charity organizations, together with our backers and donors.
What have you learned from starting up the 4Charity online platform?
I have been managing 4Charity for the past 8 years with support from family, friends, colleagues and even well-meaning strangers. What I found interesting is that most of our campaign backers and donors are people I’ve never met before.
At 4Charity, we encourage people to donate provision items to the charity organizations. We undertake the responsibility to ensure that the underprivileged served by these charity organizations directly receive these essential provision items. By doing so, we help to bridge the gap between actual demand and supply in the market for donated provisions, as the charity organizations have varying shortages and needs each month.
I find that what is most important about running 4Charity, is the ability to understand the varying needs and consumption patterns of the underprivileged people served by these charity organizations, so that we can come up with the right campaigns on the platform to give the support that they need.
What have been the biggest challenges in managing 4Charity?
Starting a new charity project is always hard at the beginning. There are many challenges and sacrifices that we had to make along the way in order to sustain the project. We were developing and managing the charity campaigns on a voluntary basis during weekends and whatever free time we had. It is hard to obtain long-term commitment from our volunteers or supporters, as there are no immediate tangible rewards associated with this kind of work. It is the type of work done purely for charity purposes.
I am grateful that we still have a group of committed caring supporters who are supportive of what we are doing at 4Charity. There are two groups of supporters that we always rely on to run the 4Charity campaigns successfully – our backers and donors, and our volunteers group. We need the “backers and donors” group to continue to give to our monthly campaigns, and we need the “charity volunteers” group to assist the charity delivery. Both groups are equally important to make 4Charity a success. This will always be a big challenge as people come and go, depending on their time commitments.
Hopefully, we will be able to continue to raise more awareness and support from everyone to build a better community for tomorrow.
During the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia, what difficulties did the 4Charity volunteers face?
It was really hard and challenging for most of us when the MCO was enforced. Imagine how much more challenging it is for those underprivileged who rely on the public to support their living and expenses?
During the MCO, we couldn’t carry out our regular monthly charity deliveries. However, desperate times call for desperate measures.
In order to fulfill our delivery commitments to the charity organizations, we continued to assist the charity organizations through staggered delivery times. Although, it has been extremely difficult to find suitable timeslots to deliver some provision items during the MCO, we persevered, and I’m proud to say that we managed to fulfill all of our delivery commitments.
What inspires you to do volunteer work?
I believe that everyone can play a big role to contribute to the community. Through my work with 4Charity, I had the privilege of getting to know many inspiring caregivers of the charity organizations we partner with. It is heartening to hear that the provision deliveries that we do each month gives hope and meaning to the people of these charity organizations, caregivers and residents alike.
For the past 8 years, I feel grateful for the donors and volunteers who had joined me on the 4Charity mission, many of whom have become close friends. It has been a memorable journey to be able to inspire friends, colleagues and even strangers to do something meaningful “To build a better community for tomorrow!”
What’s your advice to people looking balance their job commitments with volunteer work?
What’s important is to manage expectations at the outset on the amount of time you can give. Be upfront early with the charity organization, as well as your employer, about your intention to volunteer and how much time you hope to commit on a weekly or monthly basis.
In fact, doing our part for charity aligns very well with Dassault Systèmes values of bringing our community together to shape the future and making the world a better place. I am grateful to my supervisors, colleagues and peers at Dassault Systèmes in Malaysia for the endless support and encouragement that they had given me to run and manage the 4Charity programs.
Please help to spread the word about 4Charity to support the underprivileged in Malaysia:
- Pledge to 4Charity’s campaigns to support charity organizations – https://www.4charity.my/
- Like 4Charity’s Facebook page to create more awareness in the community – https://www.facebook.com/4Charity/
- Read the media coverage on 4Charity – https://www.4charity.my/media-8tv-quickie-interview/
- Read the success stories from 4Charity’s campaigns – https://www.4charity.my/category/success-stories/