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ChickenSoup Foundation

Providing services to the most vulnerable stakeholders of Hong Kong, ChickenSoup Foundation uses a collaborative problem-solving approach while empowering the souls of both their benefactors and beneficiaries.


“Our goal is not to get these impoverished people get rich. We have to be realistic especially in society right now. But we try to give them a more hopeful future outlook,” says Cindy Chow, chief incubator of ChickenSoup Foundation. “We try to empower them through different programmes from jobs to helping them identify their kid’s talent.” 


Established in 2013, ChickenSoup Foundation was built on private-to-public partnerships, which are customized to all available resources of their partners from donations, volunteering, venue to corporate products and services.  ChickenSoup Foundation’s core programmes fall in three key areas: family relief, empowerment, and community building. 


Today, the foundation covers over 3,000 children ages 5 to 18 across several locations. 


Chow first joined ChickenSoup Foundation in 2015 as the programme manager, and later on, as part of the board of director. In March 2020, she became the chief incubator. 


Born in Hong Kong, Chow went to London to study. She returned to the city and completed two masters’ degrees: the first in Human Resources Management/ Personnel, and her second, in Strategic Human Resource Management.


One major challenge that Chow faced head on was ChickenSoup Foundation’s philanthropic work of which she didn’t have a lot of experience. She also said that her team members were either fresh graduates or with a few years of work experiences. 


Meanwhile, this was a turning point for ChickenSoup Foundation’s team: they were now fledged committed to the organisation. In the past, the team had to juggle half of their time with the foundation while the other half was spent on other ventures.  


As the chief incubator, Chow had to coach her team members when it came to knocking on the doors of various organisations. “It won’t harm you if you ask. If you don’t ask, you will never get it. If you ask, there might be a chance that you can get it,” Chow says.


According to Chow, ChickenSoup Foundation leverages different resources from the private sectors. Whenever the foundation needs something, they don’t buy it, but rather, they knock on people’s doors and do cold calling. 


Despite the rejections from the get-go, Chow’s team prevailed and got stronger after each time. The other challenge Chow has had to deal with is staff retention. Since some are fresh grads, they tend to be less stable with the organisation. “Once you’ve trained them, they give you their resignation letter so that was the difficult part,” she says.


During the hiring process, she makes sure expectations are clearly defined and explained to the potential team members. Those who are already in the team, she makes time to do follow-ups and tries to understand their concerns no matter what they are. 


Covid-19 has greatly impacted ChickenSoup Foundation. For one, Chow says their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs has drastically slowed down. Since each corporate organisation has their own volunteering team, works with partnered charities, and does servicing work, those activities have had to stop.  Still, ChickenSoup Foundation has adapted quickly. They continue to provide relief fundraising work. 


According to Chow, the foundation handles various stakeholders from corporates, social workers, charities, big church groups, to directly dealing with over 200 families. 


“We can try to understand their needs and to see what we can do to help them,” says Chow. By understanding their needs, ChickenSoup Foundation works with their social workers to tackle the immediate needs of those who are facing difficulties. These issues include loss of incomes, loss of jobs, and children having difficulties with their schooling. It’s really showing how much you care and your love rather than just giving them physical items,” says Chow. 


Asked if she feels any pressure in achieving a specific number by the year’s end, she says ChickenSoup Foundation Edward Man Ho-way is more concerned about the need to do good work. 


“It’s more on how impactful our work is… If we get like HK$10,000, we give a lot to the beneficiaries. The stress is there definitely. But I pretty much have a positive mindset so basically, I see that if you can pass this year, we can pass through next year,” Chow says.


Another challenge is the distribution of resources. Chow says there have been lots of individual work from various organisations within the past few years, resulting in having too many non-governmental organisations working on the same issue or targeting the same impoverished districts. 


“Now is the time that we need to come together, to collaborate together, and not do our own thing,” she says. “We should leverage each other’s resources and see what we can expand to help more people.” 


An example that Chow gave was the distribution of face masks. In one case, there were too many people distributing face masks in one district. According to Chow, it’s about diversify each other resources. One should focus one district while another organisation focuses on another instead of having the duplication of resources. 


As small charities like ChickenSoup Foundation face challenging times. Chow says “we need to think innovatively and to think in a way that you don’t do the status quo. We’re talking about transformation.  Covid-19 has transformed the entire world and it is time to transform.”


Asked about what’s next for ChickenSoup Foundation, the foundation will focus more on family empowerment. ChickenSoup Foundation has been piloting the family empowerment programme with 20 families in partnership with Operations Santa Claus.  The foundation has seen a great need there.  Chow says, “we want to do a very holistic and tailored approach to really help some of the at risk critical families.” 


ChickenSoup Foundation also wants to further help the youth. The foundation is working with young people about the issues in their community and to encourage them to incubate programmes that can fit with at risk communities. 


“Basically, I want a full cycle effect that can hopefully influence some of the kids that are being so influenced,” says Chow. “To care about those people or care your loved ones that’s really important. Life is so short and if we don’t treasure the moments that we have right now, you’re going to regret it and you don’t want to have any regrets in life,” says Chow.