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Chairman of the Hinrich Foundation gave keynote address at Vietnam Philanthropy Roundtable


Published 07 July 2018

Merle A. Hinrich, Chairman of the Hinrich Foundation, delivered a keynote address at the Vietnam Philanthropy Roundtable on July 7th, 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City.

This event was jointly organized by the Asia Philanthropy Circle (APC), Ho Chi Minh City Peace and Development Foundation (HPDF) and Lin Center for Community Development (LIN Center).

The event brought together philanthropists, NGO leaders, opinion shapers, government officials and media to create a dialogue and a trusted platform for philanthropists in Vietnam to share, exchange and develop shared goals and a common vision for addressing social issues with impact in Vietnam.

The goals were to emphasize the importance of being impact oriented and to inspire philanthropists to work together for addressing some of the key challenges that require collective action. Special emphasis were placed on creating a framework for growing strategic philanthropy in Vietnam.

In his speech, Mr. Hinrich discussed how multi-stakeholder partnerships can help maximize the impact of philanthropic activities and achieve better success, giving examples from the work done by the Hinrich Foundation in Vietnam in this area.

The Hinrich Foundation focuses on creating engagement, opportunities and choice through sustainable global trade. We have been present in Vietnam since 2007, with two separate programs to build talent in trade and enable the successful participation of SMEs in global trade. To date we have provided Masters’ degree scholarships to over 20 Vietnamese students, and supported 700 SMEs through our Export Trade Assistance program and executive trainings. Our local programs are being delivered with the support of local partners such as Vietnamese German University, Ho Chi Minh University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh – Vietnam International University, French Vietnamese Center for Management Education, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Leipzig University, Vietnam Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Saigon Innovation Hub, and some key local and international industry players. These partnerships have been instrumental for us, to achieve success with our programs.

10 key takeaways from the roundtable

  1. Take a long-term approach. Foundations and philanthropists have a critical role to play in addressing social issues. Take a long-term view when developing programs – one that is not influenced by political or budget considerations. This can ultimately help drive success.
  2. Set clear, achievable goals. To be successful, focus on a limited and very clearly defined set of goals, prioritizing objectives that are aligned with your mission, strengths, and organizational capacity. Avoid distraction by setting out to accomplish only what is key; otherwise your talent and resources will become overburdened and ineffective.
  3. Use a data-driven approach. Your strategy should be research-based and data-driven. Make sure every new project is developed with the research to back up your method and intent. Risks can be necessary for success, but ensuring a program is worth the risk is non-negotiable.
  4. Monitor and evaluate progress. Conduct rigorous and consistent evaluations for monitoring the progress and impact of your projects and your organization as a whole. Increase odds for success in the future by developing a way to learn from results – seek feedback from program partners, beneficiaries, and your employees.
  5. Use an adaptable strategy. Always have a tolerance for uncertainty and the flexibility to question and modify programs. Rigid models that assume recurring success over time as a result of a fixed “magic wand” approach often produce failed outcomes. Adjust your strategy and goals according to the program specifics, local context, participants involved, and changes in the program environment.
  6. Be business-minded. Make sure your investments match the same standards that you would expect out of a business venture. This includes hiring top talent, thinking strategically about your resources, and investing in facilities, fundraising, and advocacy.
  7. Seek partners who share your vision. Partnerships are critical to scaling up and better managing initiatives because they enhance resources and expertise. The only way to engage in a successful partnership, however, is to ensure that your partners share the same vision of success. To thoroughly vet a potential partner, ask why they are motivated to join in on a project, how they wish to build a program, and what resources or expertise they can bring.
  8. Co-create your program strategy. For philanthropic initiatives involving multiple partners, it is important to co-create the strategy. Ensure that the sharing of resources and talent is a sustainable partnership by working with partners through every step of a project’s development.
  9. Develop self-sustaining programs. Build capacity and structure your organization so the initiative can continue with or without your leadership and support.
  10. Clearly communicate goals and achievements. Track and share your successes and advocate for your organization and its mission. Build support for your project by ensuring that stakeholders involved share a common vision of success.