Vuong Thao Vy  – LIN Grants Coordinator

This article was written exclusively for CVD

Narrow the Gap Community Fund (operated by LIN Center for Community Development) brings local resources together to support local nonprofit organizations that are tackling the most pressing problems in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and to make it easier and more rewarding for people to become more strategic with their giving. Through Narrow the Gap Community Fund, LIN collects donations from various sources and manages the selection and allocation of small grants, three times each year, to local NPOs that are addressing community needs. Since 2009, LIN has invited local not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) to apply for small grants (up to VND 600 million, the equivalent of USD $28,500) to support their activities. Applications are submitted to LIN staff for screening. Eligible applications are then presented to a review committee, which is comprised of LIN Board Members and rotating skilled volunteers. The review committee reads and ranks eligible applications and later comes together to meet, as a committee, with the applicants. Our grants also incorporate capacity building workshops and skilled volunteer matching, which aim to improve the quality of grant applications and help local NPOs overcome difficulties they face in communicating their ideas to stakeholders.

One of the three grant rounds is designed as a campaign to raise awareness and invest in projects that address a theme, which is identified by the community itself. In August 2014, over 2,400 community members voted online or in-person and, with 27 percent of those votes, environment was selected as the focus of the Narrow the Gap 2015 campaign. The campaign is designed to inspire local NPOs to introduce and/or improve programs and services that address the environmental challenges in HCMC meanwhile rallying more community members to support this cause.

Each year, LIN surveys our community to determine what challenges we can try to address, together. In August 2014, over 2,400 community members voted online or in-person and, with 27 percent of those votes, environment was selected as the focus of the Narrow the Gap 2015 campaign. Below are some facts to explain why the community voted to address this cause:

  • With rapid economic growth and industrialization, population growth and economic development are posing a serious threat to HCMC’s environment and natural resources including inefficient use of fresh water; increasing energy use; significant loss of biodiversity; increase in volume of traffic; improper waste management and rapid conversion of agricultural land into land for urban construction and industrial zones.[1]
  • Viet Nam’s projections are that a one-meter rise in mean sea levels by 2100 is likely, and this is used in the National Target Programme to Respond to Climate Change (NTP-RCC). Without major action such as dyke reinforcements and improved drainage, this would cause an estimated threat of inundation to 17,423 km2 or 5.3% of Viet Nam’s total land area. Of that total, nearly 82% is in the Mekong Delta, 9% in the Red River Delta and over 4% each in the North Central Coast and South East regions. The latter includes Ho Chi Minh City, where 12% of the population is living in areas forecast to be flooded by a one meter sea level rise.[2] The main areas of population growth, and areas where the poor live, are highly threatened.
  • The poor are typically the most vulnerable in the face of climate change. Those living in cities are especially susceptible to unpredictable environmental changes.[3]

Due to the complexity of these environmental challenges, a multi-stakeholder approach is necessary. While a number of local nonprofit groups are joining efforts to protect the environment and mobilize community participation to promote sustainable development at the community level; nonprofit and community participation in environmental management and protection is still limited and uncoordinated.

The objectives of this Grant Round include:

  • Increase community engagement & collaboration, meanwhile raising awareness about environmental challenges and the nonprofits working to address those challenges
  • Pool funds to invest in projects that aim to address one or more environmental challenge
  • Build the capacity of grassroots NPOs working to protect the environment by providing support in the design, implementation and evaluation phases of their projects, by offering funds for their projects and by leveraging community networks to expand support for their projects.

During the campaign, we organize various activities which make people feel interested and that they are part of the solution to environmental challenges no matter how big or small it is, which is also the key message for this year campaign. Starting from June 13 to October 6th 2015, the campaign includes these activities:

  • GreenIt: aims to “green” social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, by photos that contain the green color of beautiful nature.
  • Green Day Journal: an educational program about environment for disadvantaged children
  • 100 Green Days: a fundraising activity which engage corporates and community members as follows: Community members share photos of them taking an action to protect the environment (E.g. Save electricity, save water, walk/bus/bike/share ride to work/school, vegetarianism, recycle, use recycled bags, etc…), Corporates will pay a certain amount of money for each photo shared on social networks. 100% of the fund raised are invested in the three winning projects of the campaign.
  • Call for Proposals from NPOs: encourage local NPOs to submit project proposals which address environmental challenges
  • Training on Logical Framework: equip grant applicants with proposal writing skill
  • Match volunteer with NPOs and consult with environmental experts to develop the logical framework into full proposal: equip grant applicants with proposal writing skill
  • First round selection: a community panel selects the top 6 project proposals based on project’s needs, viability, impact and sustainability
  • Semi-final round event – CrowdPitch event: a pitching event with a crowdfunding element. The event is an initiative of CrowdPitch Vietnam to create opportunities for upcoming Startups to pitch their ideas, and engage with the communities. After this event, the top 3 project proposals entered the final round event.
  • Final round event – Narrow the Gap for Environment Community Event: bring together HCMC residents including NPO staff, donors and volunteers interested in addressing the environmental issues. At this event, there are various booths to introduce to the community about environmental projects and NPOs working to address those issues. The top three project proposals are ranked by online and offline community votes.

Details about these 3 activities and other activities of the whole Narrow the Gap campaign are included in the report which can be found here.

This  campaign  would  not  be  possible  without  the help of the following,  amazing  individuals  who devoted countless hours of their time to help design   the  campaign,   engage   supporters   in person and online, review projects, photograph events  and  projects,  coach  NPO  staff,  design and disseminate  marketing  materials,  organize logistics,  contact  sponsors  and  manage  all of the activities that are taking place during the event today.

Among our skilled volunteers and experts, Ms. Dao Thu Hang, admin of  CVD – Conversation for Vietnam Development, gave invaluable pieces of advice for NPO staff to improve 6 project logical frameworks and 7 full project proposals. She also invited her friend to give advice on improving three full project proposals.

“About LIN Center for Community Development

LIN Center for Community Development is a not-for-profit organization with the mission to help local people to meet local needs. On the one hand, LIN provides support to locally initiated not-for-profit organizations and groups that seek to improve access to opportunities for disadvantaged populations. Such support could include small grants, introductions to skilled volunteers, workshops, networking and information sharing. On the other, LIN provides advisory and support services to individual and corporate philanthropists that want to serve, or better serve, the communities where they live and/or work. More information about LIN is available on our website at:”

This article was written exclusively for CVD

[1] UN Fact Sheet on Cities and Climate Change (2011).

[2] IMHEN (2010) Sea level rise scenarios and possible disaster risk reduction in Viet Nam, Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment, Page 24-25. The mean sea level rise and inundation threat data in that report are an update of data in MONRE (2009) Climate change, sea level rise scenarios for Viet Nam, MoNRE (Hanoi).

[3] Ibid #5.


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