What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the word “donation?” Some reply that they instantly think of big non-profit organizations. Others picture red Salvation Army charity pots easily seen during the holiday season. To some, charity may be seen as a heavy responsibility or even sacrifice. But say, on your birthday, you suggest that everyone donate to children who have cancer instead of buying you a birthday present. Would that count as a charitable act? Kim Dong-Jun, the CEO of the social venture Be Kind, confidently nods yes. He aspires to establish a fundraising culture in Korea through donating in creative ways.
Be Kind is a social start-up venture aiming to promote fundraising in Korea. Before starting Be Kind, Kim was a student majoring in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. He was also deeply interested in environmental issues, so he took some time off school, came back to Korea to work at the social venture “Tree Planet,” where he helped manage donations using a software. His interest towards donation and its importance continued to grow. With two other partners, he founded Be Kind.
The venture’s main objective is to create a fundraising culture where donations are more active and more fun. Kim stated that donation and fundraising are two different concepts, in which fundraising enables people to encourage others to make donations. He wishes to employ a donating culture that fits the Korean society and empower it like in the United States where various events held for fundraising are common.
Be Kind held many creative fundraising campaigns. One is the Birthday Fundraiser, where one publicizes on social media such as Facebook or Twitter, to donate and support a good cause. The donations are sent to an organization of the birthday-person’s choice. For example, the participant can choose a project that supports childhood cancer patients or a project supporting ALS patients.
“Shoot for love” is another well-known campaign inviting soccer players to try archery-football. It involves kicking a ball and trying to hit the target. For every point the athlete scores, the foundation makes donations to children suffering from cancer. In some places, the participants play a penalty-kick game instead. Similar to the viral Ice-Bucket Challenge, the person must nominate other people to participate in the campaign. Be Kind was motivated to create a campaign that involves playing soccer as a message of hope to children with cancer, as most of these children wish to play outdoors. Many famous soccer players, celebrities, and even the Pope participated in the campaign. The campaign was even introduced in media overseas, such as The New York Times.
There have been many participants of Be Kind. Lee Ji-Seok, whose birthday was on April 29, participated in Be Kind most recently. “I saw some people doing this on Facebook,” Lee said. “People were keeping their promises even though no one was checking, and this caught my attention.” He was impressed by the anonymous trust shown between participants. Though there was no one forcing them to keep their promises, almost every participant of Be Kind kept their words.
Lee Jae-Hong was another impressive participant because of his continuous donations to Be Kind and his clear objective of donations through Be Kind. “I thought that it is more meaningful to let my friends and family celebrate my birthday through donations to the greater good, rather than giving me presents.” He added, “I sincerely hope that people who are interested in helping others and doing good for the society participate in this wonderful donation system through Be Kind. In some places in society, a small change makes a big difference, which is also why I became determined to participate in Be Kind.”
Just like these wonderful people who have devoted their time and effort to help people in need, more and more people are joining this campaign. Especially in today's competitive society a social movement to help each other is needed. Just like the one that Be Kind is spearheading little by little, it ultimately helps those who desperately need help and makes a beautiful society.