Believe in a better tomorrow

Swire Group Philanthropy Council Chairman, Pat Healy, and Tina Chan, Group Head of Philanthropy, explain how TrustTomorrow 'super-charges' Swire's altruistic endeavours, in support of a brighter future for Hong Kong.

Watch the video to learn more about the goals behind TrustTomorrow, and be inspired by the positivity it brings.
Watch the video to learn more about the goals behind TrustTomorrow, and be inspired by the positivity it brings.

At first glance, it may seem TrustTomorrow is just an enthusiastic re-statement of everything the Swire Trust has always stood for. By way of illustration, the Trust's new vehicle for delivering on its philanthropy goals retains its long-standing emphasis on the three strategic pillars of education, marine conservation and the arts.

But what the advent of TrustTomorrow brings to the table is a renewed sense of purpose: one that connects Swire's long history of supporting Hong Kong to a vision of future opportunities, and an inspiring belief in a better tomorrow, following a period of social and economic headwinds. And that's not all: underpinning this desire to reinvigorate the city's reserves of optimism is a major commitment of resources. In addition to the Swire Trust's regular annual budget of HK$30-$40 million, TrustTomorrow has recently donated an extra HK$150 million to finance around 30 transformational projects over the next three years.
Pat Healy and Tina Chan.
Pat Healy and Tina Chan.
According to Pat Healy, who chairs the Philanthropy Council, the Swire Trust's de facto board, TrustTomorrow represents a "super-charging" of the Swire group's philanthropic activities.

"TrustTomorrow's purpose is really to inspire and empower Hong Kong people to believe in the future of Hong Kong and trust that the future will be better than today," he explains. "It's been a pretty tough period in Hong Kong from 2019 on, and we want to create a sense of optimism and hope because we still think it's a wonderful place with a great future. But the money aspect is also significant: we want to use this funding to really super-charge what we're already doing across our three pillars, to create meaningful change."

That the initiative's launch coincided with celebrations to mark Swire's 150th anniversary of doing business in Hong Kong in 2020 has offered a real opportunity, Healy adds, to be more vocal about the company's deep and abiding connection to the city, and to advance a model of delivering for the public good that is in essence more visible to the public itself.

"Whereas we've historically taken quite a low-profile approach, with TrustTomorrow we're now introducing a branded element. It's a continuation of our strategic approach and our focus on doing the right thing, but with the 150-year celebrations we want to get the TrustTomorrow brand out there and create an awareness of how we contribute to Hong Kong society and the confidence we feel about the city's future."

Pillars of strength

For Tina Chan, who leads the Swire Trust, a higher degree of integration under the umbrella of a brand that is more visible – and more easily identifiable as a Swire venture – can only be beneficial.

"Having the Swire name more visible helps, because if Swire is perceived to back certain causes, that can actually raise more awareness and help NGOs pull in funding from other donors," she says. "We do want to leverage this towards helping NGOs get more resources; but equally the core principles of altruism and doing the right thing won't change just because we use branding."

In some respects, the creation of the TrustTomorrow brand is simply the logical next step in a journey that began several years ago – one that has seen the Trust's activities become more focused and strategic. Whereas in the past there might have been something of an ad hoc approach to allocating funds in support of worthy causes, nowadays, Tina and her team are much more proactive in the way they engage with and find solutions for issues that demand attention.

“You have to be somewhat entrepreneurial, because with our experience we can see different projects that have a connection and say: 'maybe you guys can work together'; or we make suggestions based on what other organisations have done,” says Tina. “When we look at projects, we look at the whole package: the programme design, the team running it, and the governance of the organisation. We then determine how long a project will last, depending on the specifics of what need is being addressed and the solutions proposed.”

Pat adds: "You have to have focus in order to create meaningful change. Historically, we would have waited for applicants to come to us with proposals; these days it's much more typical for us to go out to the market, understand which NGOs are effective in their areas, and engage with them collaboratively to shape projects that we support. And ultimately everything revolves around our three strategic pillars."


Watch the story of Ah Lik, one of TrustTomorrow's beneficiaries, on his journey from experiencing homelessness to achieving self-sufficiency.

Building connections

Swire group staff volunteer their time to support Trust-backed initiatives.
Swire group staff volunteer their time to support Trust-backed initiatives.
A major theme of TrustTomorrow is connectivity – or "joining the dots" as Tina puts it. This includes supporting programmes delivered by more than one NGO – as is the case, she explains, in Tung Chung, where "five different NGOs are all working from different angles to build a more vibrant and inclusive community." It also relates to how some programmes fall under two or more strategic pillars at once, and to the opportunities afforded by encouraging Swire staff to volunteer on Trust-backed projects.

For Pat, the connectivity between different programmes and pillars is something quite unique: "It's on a completely new level, whether that's in relation to the volunteering aspect – the connectivity between our operating companies, our CSR activities and these projects – or the connectivity between the different NGOs and the crossover there."

Adds Tina: "Having additional resources creates a lot of synergies. We're able to do more than usual in terms of co-ordination between projects. But also, internally, TrustTomorrow has made us think more about volunteering opportunities for our people. Because of how high-profile it is and because it's a celebration of our company, that's very exciting for staff, and we're getting so many emails from people who want to participate. Our goal is to introduce our colleagues to the vision of TrustTomorrow, and for them to understand the issues as well as the NGOs and beneficiaries involved, and to use their time and their skills to contribute."

Pat cites the example of two digital experts from Swire Coca-Cola who recently volunteered their time to help a partner NGO with its digital transformation. "It's very difficult for non-profit organisations to have access to such capabilities and experience, but it's happening because people in our operating companies are asking how they can help out and how their skills can match demand.

"Both the NGOs and our staff can learn a lot from working with each other, and by creating that connectivity you're bringing so much more value than just HK$150 million: you're bringing NGOs professional assistance and advice, and also offering opportunities for staff to understand issues that are faced by different groups. It's a real win-win."

But how else will the Trust measure the success of TrustTomorrow, whether in the short-term or over a longer timeframe? Tina explains that every project is carefully assessed over the course of its lifecycle in terms of its "outputs, outcomes and impact". "We stay in close contact with NGOs after we approve projects and continue to monitor things like the numbers of people reached or numbers of actions and activities; but more importantly, by paying regular visits, we get a real feel for the progress being made and what projects have achieved."

In the past, she stresses, many Swire-backed projects have been so successful that they have attracted significantly greater funding from other donors. "That's a big part of the longer-term success we envision. Often, we're helping smaller NGOs to test out their model and kickstart what they have over two to three years. That ability to attract future funding and to be sustainable is something you can only measure when projects are finished."
Staff volunteers give a helping hand at a soap recycling event.

For Pat, the assessment of whether a branded approach is the right one going forward will depend solely on the amount of good it helps to achieve in Hong Kong. "If TrustTomorrow allows us to be more effective and to create more change on issues that we care about, then it's probably something we'll consider continuing," he says. "Knowing what changes you want to effect in the short-term, medium-term and long-term is part of the discipline of philanthropy. It's about spending money effectively and seeing the outcomes of those investments over a period of time."

He adds that he is hopeful TrustTomorrow will resonate profoundly with people in Hong Kong. "Fundamentally, we want it to succeed as a brand in getting the message out that we want to inspire the community to believe in a bright future for Hong Kong – to trust in tomorrow. We're optimistic that it's going to be a really effective initiative."

Joining the dots: Some examples of TrustTomorrow projects

The Swire Trust currently funds around 30 projects as part of TrustTomorrow. Here, we highlight five from across the initiative's three pillars.

For more details, and information on other projects, please visit swire.com/trusttomorrow.

You can also follow TrustTomorrow on its social media pages.

  

THE ARTS
The Orchestra Academy Hong Kong (TOA)
The Orchestra Academy programme offers local young musicians structured professional training.
The Orchestra Academy programme offers local young musicians structured professional training.
TrustTomorrow is working with The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) to give young local musicians specialised tuition, mentorship and experiential knowledge that will help them to shine in their own orchestral careers. TOA students will in turn give back in a volunteering capacity through teaching and performing music in the community.

Check out the TOA teaser and see how the programme empowers young talent to pursue their dreams as professional players in the orchestral field.

Check out the TOA teaser and see how the programme empowers young talent to pursue their dreams as professional players in the orchestral field.

MARINE CONSERVATION
Oceans Tomorrow
National Geographic explorers and local citizen scientists conduct an underwater survey on Hong Kong reef fish.
National Geographic explorers and local citizen scientists conduct an underwater survey on Hong Kong reef fish.
TrustTomorrow and National Geographic are partnering on a multimedia content campaign that celebrates Hong Kong's marine biodiversity. The project aims to educate the public on the richness of the city's marine environment and on ways to participate in protecting it. It will also involve running a 'photo camp' where professionals will work with students from marginalised groups on visual approaches to marine issues.

EDUCATION
Foundations for Success
The Experiential Peacebuilding leadership programme offers indoor and outdoor programmes for disadvantaged young people.
The Experiential Peacebuilding leadership programme offers indoor and outdoor programmes for disadvantaged young people.
Using the Swire Leadership Centre in South Lantau as a base, Outward Bound Hong Kong is delivering an 'Experiential Peacebuilding leadership programme' aimed at 16-18-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Combining indoor group sessions and outdoor experiences, the project hopes to cultivate compassionate and resilient citizens who can be positive contributors to their communities.

Mobilising Volunteers for Good
Through the Swire Trust Go-Givers Programme, skilled professionals volunteer their time to help empower local NGOs.
Through the Swire Trust Go-Givers Programme, skilled professionals volunteer their time to help empower local NGOs.
This programme, run by Time Auction, aims to match skilled volunteers with NGO partners who have specific talent needs. It involves rolling out a new digital platform to bridge this gap by making it easier to sign up. Through the Swire Trust Go-Givers Programme, volunteers can exchange their volunteer hours for rewards offered by Swire and the Trust's NGO partners.

The Swire Sky-Flyer Work-integrated Learning Programme
Aircraft engineering students from the Swire Sky-Flyer Work-Integrated Learning Programme receive workplace training.
Aircraft engineering students from the Swire Sky-Flyer Work-Integrated Learning Programme receive workplace training.
Run in collaboration with the Vocational Training Council, this programme is a three-year pilot scheme that aims to enhance vocational and professional education and training for around 1,200 young people. Swire Group companies and other industry partners will offer students workplace experience and training in sectors such as engineering, aviation, logistics and services, and hospitality, to enhance their employment prospects.
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