Operation Santa Claus (OSC) MBA Charity Challenge: Students From Asia’s Socially Conscious Business School Programs Compete

Five teams present their pitches for the Operation Santa Claus Inter-school MBA Charity Challenge

Five teams of representatives from Asia’s socially conscious business schools programs presented their initial pitches to judges for the Operation Santa Claus (OSC) Inter-school MBA Charity Challenge at the LinkedIn Hong Kong office in Causeway Bay on 13th October. 

Organized by the South China Morning Post and sponsored this year by FringeBacker, LinkedIn Hong Kong, and Swire Properties, the MBA Challenge tasks Hong Kong’s future business leaders with implementing creative fundraising activities throughout a 50-day period from early-November through the end of December.

All proceeds will go directly towards OSC’s 14 beneficiary organizations, spreading the spirit of giving in time for the holidays. Beneficiaries are carefully curated to include organizations spanning the youth, community, elderly, medical, mental and physical disabilities, and environmental sectors.

2017 marks the special 30th anniversary for OSC, while the MBA Challenge is in its fifth year. Previous years of the competition have been highly successful, with a total of HK$1.3 million raised for OSC. This year, the challenge has drawn together five teams of enthusiastic MBA students from diverse backgrounds: City Elves (City University of Hong Kong), HKUnited (The University of Hong Kong), Massive Bunch of Elves (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), #mUSTBeMERRY (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), and Ginger Heart (The University of Manchester, Manchester Business School, East Asia Centre).

Learn about the teams competing in this year's Operation Santa ClausThe teams presented their ideas to the judging panel comprised of IMA Asia CEO Mark Michelson, RTHK Radio 3 presenter Peter Lewis, and FringeBacker vice president, Vivien Chan. Ideas heard include a viral video campaign to mimic the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge (HKUnited), the launching of an “IPO” where donors can buy Santa Co. stocks to “Save Santa” (#mUSTBeMERRY), and working with underprivileged audiences to “#MakeDecemberMatter” (Massive Bunch of Elves).

To help them get their proposals off the ground, sponsor Swire Properties will provide each team with seed money from HK$3,000 to HK$10,000 upon judges’ review of their business proposals and video presentations. Afterwards, the ball is in their court as they showcase their business know-how and project management chops during the fundraising period, scouring Hong Kong’s busy streets and putting their business plans into action.

Online crowdsourcing partner FringeBacker has returned for the third year, offering participating teams free access to their platform. Representing FringeBacker as a judge, vice president Vivian Chan commented on how teams could best utilize the website.

“FringeBacker can help teams by conveying their message to an international and social media savvy community. Teams can feature rewards such as certificates which donors can download online and rank their largest contributors,” said Chan.

She offered direction regarding what qualities judges would be keeping an eye out for in the following months. “We are looking for something that is creative but practical. Fundraising is about [having] fun, but it’s also about getting down to the nitty-gritty,” said Chan.

LinkedIn Hong Kong, a first-time partner of the MBA Challenge, also held a workshop for participating teams on “Leveraging Social Media for Fundraising”. Alto Wong, a relationship manager for LinkedIn, provided participating teams with expert networking tips. Specifically, advising them to be proactive, to expect rejection, and to continue to look for the right individuals to help them with their fundraising endeavors.

“First problem that teams might encounter is overcoming a mental barrier and becoming proactive—understanding that there is nothing to lose and that it is okay to reach out to individuals,” Wong said. “Secondly, they will have to accept the fact that they might not get ten replies from ten InMails. Appreciating the fact that some people will not be as responsive or that they do not have the resources to work with you right now is crucial, and being relentless regardless of this comes a long way.”

Last year’s top fundraising team from The University of Manchester, Manchester Business School, East Asia Centre, generated HK$280,000 from donors and brought home all three awards: “Top Fundraiser Award”, “FringeBacker Outstanding Online Fundraiser Award”, and “Best Santa in Community Contribution”. This year’s teams will be competing for the same awards.  

Participating teams will meet again for the final presentation on January 11th at LinkedIn’s Hong Kong office, at which SCMP CEO Gary Liu and FringeBacker executive director Maryann Hwee will join the judging panel. 

Kaitlyn Cheung
Written by Kaitlyn Cheung

Kaitlyn Cheung is a China Studies and Journalism student at The University of Hong Kong. An aspiring journalist, she specializes in Chinese political economy and Sino-American relations. Kaitlyn is a Hong Kong oversees returnee and has previously written on lifestyle, entertainment, and now covers the Operation Santa Claus 2017 charity campaign. 

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