Ina Lee at a glance
Studied: MA in Social Service Management, Chinese University of Hong Kong
At EduCom: Fundraising Coordinator
“It is the power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult situation that has enabled me to overcome many pains, limitations and mental barriers, without giving way.”
Ina grew up in a community of people who always helped and encouraged each other with kind words. It taught her the importance of empathy, “especially when empathy leads to compassion.” She saw how compassion pushes people to dive in and help the needs of their community. “People will help others they have never met because they know that they too would need help if things were reversed.”
Encouraged by her mother to pay the kindness forward, Ina began volunteering in community services from a young age, and has worked as a nonprofit professional for over 10 years. The most rewarding aspect of volunteering and her nonprofit career is when people pay it forward. “When I show kindness to people around me, they’ll most likely do the same for others.”
She has worked with senior citizens, immigrants, and refugees. Though Ina loves working with people and animals, she learned that most nonprofit organisations are understaffed on the administrative and operational side. She put her efforts there, and fortuitously, it worked to her advantage – she developed a broad range of skills by taking on multiple responsibilities.
“The need for ongoing creativity is especially true for nonprofits. Because these organizations have limited resources and high demand, I am challenged to figure out how to fulfill the mission quicker, cheaper, and better and reach people in new, innovative ways.”
As social media was the best way for a certain charity to connect with at-risk youth, Ina volunteered as their social media manager. She revamped the charity’s social media accounts, created an in depth social strategy, and planned and drafted its social media posts. The charity gained a lot of followers and expanded its reach and engagement.
Charities also use social media to assure donors about how their donations are benefiting the causes they support. As a marketing manager at Doctors without Borders, Ina oversaw their entire donor loyalty and engagement program. She produced communication materials to show donors the impact of their gifts, and organized in-person and virtual events to cultivate donor relationships.
She was also a part of their fundraising team, and ran year-round fundraising campaigns via direct mailing, telemarketing and e-mailing.
Prior to joining Doctors Without Borders, Ina worked in Foodlink, a local food charity. She started as a food program assistant, managing the food donation program, but ended up taking up responsibilities in diverse areas. She helped with grants, wrote funding proposals, became a member of the fight food waste advocacy team, solicited major gifts from high donors, corporates, and foundations; and organized the annual gala and charity bazaar. From time to time, she also organized beneficiary visits and CSR events, such as bread runs, to engage their supporters meaningfully.
For an animal rescue organisation in Hong Kong, Ina supported their volunteer recruitment and training, and managed their database. “Every community project has provided me an excellent opportunity to widen my skill set and learn how to pitch my ideas effectively, all while contributing to the causes I care about.”
After such an extensive career, Ina would like to do something different. She is taking a break to give herself the perspective and distance needed to determine a new direction. Aware that growth often comes with its fair share of discomfort, she reminds herself to “approach change as a learning opportunity–allowing myself to discover, challenging my assumptions often, and keeping an open mind at all times.” And to endure. Endurance has been, for her, the difference between winning and losing.
“Whether it’s running a marathon, getting into my dream college or pursuing a career I’m passionate about, failures and setbacks are something that always stand in the way of my goals. It is sheer endurance that has helped me to conquer most challenges in my life.”
Till she finds her fresh path, Ina is volunteering as a fundraising coordinator with EduCom. She helps raise EduCom’s brand awareness with content plans and mailing lists for print and electronic media. She also produces fundraising and event-related communications, and cultivates relationships with individual, corporate donors and community agencies for cash and in-kind donations.
“At the end of my career, I will look back at my fundraising with satisfaction, knowing that my hard work resulted in funds that were put to good use: to provide quality education, empower the community, reduce poverty, and so much more.”
Interview Conducted by Hajra Mirza