Nancy Yang is the Co-Founder and former Executive Director of Asian Charity Services. Prior to founding ACS, she was the Chief Strategy Officer with a mobile gaming company in Beijing, developing and distributing games for major Japanese and US gaming companies. The company was later sold to The Walt Disney Company. Before that, she worked as a management consultant with AT Kearney Hong Kong, specializing in business and organizational strategy for multinationals and family owned conglomerates operating in Asia Pacific. Nancy also worked as a finance associate with JMB Realty in Chicago, Illinois. Nancy is actively involved in serving various community groups. She is a board director of Mother’s Choice, a trustee of the Groton School, and a member of the Wharton Asia Executive Board. She holds an MBA in Marketing from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and a BS degree in Finance from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
You are the Founder and former Executive Director of Asian Charity Services (ACS) in Hong Kong. What motivated you to found Asian Charity Services and what has been its impact on the community so far?
Nancy Yang: In the early 2000s, I was lucky enough to have the adventure of participating in a start up mobile gaming company run by my brother Norbert Chang. As we were in the process of negotiating the sale of the business to a strategic partner, I went through a period of self reflection, prayer and seeking counsel from friends and family on my next steps. I knew I wanted to serve in the social sector but didn’t have a passion for one specific people group or social cause.
As I met more people in the NGO sector, I realized that NGOs were experiencing greater pressure than ever before to deliver needed solutions but, more often than not, were not adequately resourced to achieve their missions. In particular, the critical C-suite type functions of the business world, i.e. CEO, operations, finance and marketing, were considered unnecessary overhead functions in the NGO world. I had a vision to bridge this gap by developing a platform to enable business professionals like myself to serve local, high impact NGOs with pro bono business consulting and training.
In the first 6 months, we served 5-6 NGOs with pro bono strategic planning projects. Since 2007, we have had the privilege to serve over 550 incredible NGOs with pro bono support across a broad range of capacity building areas such as: strategic planning, fundraising, board governance, human resource management and marketing. ACS now runs one of Asia’s largest pro bono volunteering platforms and this supports NGO leaders who serve over 1 million beneficiaries among Hong Kong’s neediest. It has really been a tremendous privilege and blessing to “serve those who serve”.
Can you tell us more about some of Asian Charity Services‘ nonprofit consulting services, donor advisory services and training seminars?
Nancy Yang: ACS programming enables NGOs to operate more effectively and efficiently and thus better serve their communities. ACS serves with a unique and proven model, training up and leveraging the skills and talents of the business sector to work with NGO leaders to make a tangible contribution to the city. These NGOs serve across a broad range of sectors, including arts, children & youth, education, environment, health care, human rights, poverty, rehabilitation, social welfare and women.
ACS offers a portfolio of programs to guide NGOs to address their major strategic and organizational issues. Signature programs include:
- NGO Development Workshops, a time intensive customized project where a team of NGO leaders are matched with a dedicated team of business professionals who work through key strategic issues such as strategic planning, fundraising strategies and board governance
- Ignite NGO Leader Training Seminars, a large scale leadership seminar series where NGO board members and senior executives will receive training from subject matter experts in the business sector, addressing top of mind issues such as: branding, employee engagement, volunteer management, and social media tools.
- Power Up Donor Communications, a smaller scale training project specifically targeted towards those NGOs looking to strengthen their donor relationships through more effective communications. NGOs receive dedicated volunteer teams and work together to develop thoughtful donor marketing communication assets.
ACS also actively partners with multinationals and Chinese companies to serve the local NGO sector. Recent collaborations include:
- Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway – helped to launch MTR’s Youth Connect Community Innovation Platform, which included a cross sector summit of government, NGO and business leaders, an online platform to promote dialogue on innovative solutions for youth employment, and provision of skills based volunteers to support MTR grantees. Participation from over 100 local NGOs and social enterprises.
- Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) – developed and managed 3 years of NGO leadership training on “Strengthening Donor Communications” which culminated in PwC staff acting as pro bono business mentors. Over 80 local NGOs served each year.
- Swire Group – developed and managed a NGO leadership training series; Over 150 NGOs served each year
You are also Board Director of Mother’s Choice, a local charity that provides services to pregnant teenagers and children without families in Hong Kong. Can you tell us more about Mother’s Choice and some programs you have been involved with here?
Nancy Yang: Mother’s Choice is an amazing homegrown NGO that was founded 30 years ago to serve pregnant teenagers and children without families in Hong Kong.
Each year, thousands of teenage girls in Hong Kong face crisis pregnancy with no or little support, and thousands of babies children are in need of a family for a number of reasons including neglect, abuse, abandonment, or family breakdown. Mother’s Choice offers a range of services to these children, youth, and families in Hong Kong:
- Pregnant Girls Services – MC offers crisis pregnancy support for teenagers and their families, and deliver sex education in Hong Kong schools with the goal to reduce crisis pregnancies
- Child Care Home – MC provides temporary loving care for children without families and works to ensure each can be in a permanent family as quickly as possible
- Adoption Services and Foster Services – MC builds stronger families by supporting birth families, foster families, and adoptive families with counseling, training and resources support
- Community Education – MC champions industry policies and practices that reflect the best interests of the children in Hong Kong, working closely with the Hong Kong government and other local children NGOs
On a personal level, why does women’s empowerment matter to you?
Nancy Yang: In the Bible, there are various references to the concept of “parts of the body”; the general premise is that each individual is gifted differently with talents, skills and life experiences. We are also each given different roles to play. Women can be political leaders, NGO leaders, business and industry leaders, family breadwinners, and of course, sisters, daughters, wives or mothers.
A body will only be as strong as the sum of its parts. This is supported by continued research done by the UN and the World Bank that show tremendous societal benefits of women’s empowerment, including: faster economic growth, reduction of community health and social issues, etc. Given the gender inequalities that exist in our society, investing in women’s empowerment is one of the easiest and highest ROI investments a philanthropist can make in terms of generating additional human, social, and financial capital for today’s world.
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
Nancy Yang: My mother, Rosa Chang, has been a tremendous role model in my life. She passed away unexpectedly at an early age, while I was still in business school. But her life example of passion for continued learning, for incredible work ethic and for aspiring for excellence in all that she did, whether it was in making a meal for the family or boldly entering a new business or market has greatly impacted my life and who I am today.
What advice do you have for individuals who are seeking to enter the nonprofit industry – either as a pro bono consultant, entrepreneur, or volunteer?
Nancy Yang: Be humble. Be open minded. You have tremendous gifts and talents to offer but think of entering the NGO sector as an immersion into a new culture. Take time to learn and understand the culture before you immediately try to be a changemaker.
What are your favorite books, websites, films and resources about international development and nonprofits?
Nancy Yang: For sector research, I really enjoy the Stanford Social Innovation Review. It offers a good mix of sector updates and thought leadership by a combination of practitioners and academics.