This is the first out of three series of interviews with the winners of the 2014 Digi WWWOW Awards, Allison Goh brings you the latest insights from some of the greatest powerhouses existing in Malaysia’s cyberspace.
With a multitude of contributors in the Internet, it is often hard to identify players that truly make a difference to the community. However, when it does occur, it is extremely rewarding for they are like gems that shine out, and that is also why 4Charity is a deserving winner for the Community category of the 2014 Digi WWWOW Awards.
For those that do not know 4Charity, the name alone speaks volume for itself. Literally “for charity”, it is a website that allows anyone to donate with great ease and certainty to whichever causes (also known as “campaigns” on the site) that they might be interested in. Moreover, it acts as a match-making donation platform with links to a variety of charity organizations such as House of Joy, Shelter Home for Children, and Rumah Charis and allows them to bring specific requests that are required for aid, to the public’s attention.
This ensures a more efficient manner of allocating resources since the donations and pledges target what is necessary for those supporting campaigns. Oversupply of donated goods is abolished and it lightens the load considerably for the caretakers of the Homes since now they no longer have to worry about the financial aspects of fund-raising.
Finding time for charity work may seem difficult for many of us. It isn’t because we are unwilling to help but rather because on a daily basis, one is already weighed down by a series of never ending responsibilities and commitments and as a result, to say that one is exhausted, might be an understatement. Given this opportunity to speak with one of the founders of 4Charity, Mr Ray Teng, I was extremely intrigued to find out more about the person using his IT superpowers to make a difference.
Q: How do you find a balance between this work and your daily activities? And what are some of the greatest challenges you faced?
A: It is very tough actually, especially since I am also involved in a personal startup company. I think self-discipline plays a key part here, as well as to believe in what you are doing. It is also crucial that I received help from other volunteers and my friends whenever I am busy. Time is a major concern, I know I can do it better if have more time.
While for 4Charity, the main challenge we faced, is exposure. To get the public to know more about 4Charity, believe in 4Charity and support 4Charity.
Q: What was the inspiration behind setting up such a site?
A: I got this idea from retailers (e.g. Tesco and Carrefour) when I notice that many customers’ reward points are wasted whenever they did not bring their loyalty card. This made me wonder if I could collect all these “unwanted reward points”, obtain a certain value from them, and purchase grocery items for charity. However after some discussion with my friends, I realized that it made more sense to start a crowdsourcing platform for charity instead since the first idea had too many complications and thus, 4Charity was born.
Q: Now that you have won the 2014 Digi WWWOW Awards (Community) what do you plan to do with your prizes?
A: It certainly helps a lot since now I can continue to expand and run the platform. More importantly, I gained a great deal of connections. Plenty of Samaritans are now offering to help and run 4Charity. This means a lot to me as they are experience and well-connected people. We have no marketing budget to promote 4Charity and it is only with the help of such people, that 4Charity receives wider publicity and in return, campaigns raised through this platform become successful.
Q: Share with us your future for 4Charity.
A: We hope to offer a seamless pledging experience to all donors by automating the entire process. Also, we hope to enter into partnerships with big retailers, allowing anyone to purchase items from their online platform, and deliver straight to the Homes. The reason of doing so is to ensure all donations goes directly to those in need and not to any third parties. This promotes greater transparency. Secondly, many people are willing to donate but they may not have time to deliver. Therefore automating the entire pledging process is our key focus now.
In addition, we want to get endorsements and support from the corporate sector, for we operate on part time & voluntary basis only. In order to expand further, we need more people, resources, a structured team, and financial support. After operating for about a year, we can confirm that the crowdsourcing idea works and it is possible to expand outside Klang Valley. If someone from other parts of the world wants to set up a similar platform to help the underprivileged groups in their countries, we are more than happy to share our experiences with them.
Ultimately, Ray Teng isn’t concerned if you want to donate to 4Charity or through other donation platforms. He knows it does not matter. In fact, to quote him, “I always encourage [the] donor to deliver the item directly, so they can see it, feel it,” and to feel, is to demonstrate in essence, the spirit of giving.
4Charity is now having a shout out for partnerships with existing online retailers. Check out its website for more information.