2019 APA forum "Philanthropy in My Lifetime"

Kim Young-Gul, permanent member of the KAIST Development Foundation


1. Philanthropy starts with WATCHING

Philanthropy is a word that means “love people or human” combined with “phil” meaning love, and “anthrop” meaning human in Latin. But since there are more than seven billion people living on this planet with different races, cultures and environments, it’s never easy to know who to love and how to love them. So I’m going to introduce you to the basics of philanthropy as far as I know with the three keywords: watching, touching, and catching. Let’s start with watching. I think philanthropy starts with watching, that is observing other people around you. Pastor Choi Il Do, who was preparing to study abroad one winter morning in 1988, saw an old homeless man lying in Cheongnyangni Station Square. Nevertheless, the pastor just walk straight past and went to Chuncheon, Gangwon-do since he was in a hurry. On his way back, he noticed the homeless man still lying there and decided to reach him to talk. Since then, he’s been serveing for the homeless for 30 years. At first, he saw the old man with eyes but in the evening, he saw him with heart. Your eyesight becomes weaker as you get older, but your love is stronger as you help others. The Philantropists’ observation doesn’t seem to be just about finding people in need. Because we even have to look at how they want to get help. On December 31, 1999, on the last day of the year, professors, employees, and student volunteers from KAIST Business School bought 600 winter jackets as proceeds from charity bazaars and distributed them to homeless people at the Babfor Sharing Movement Headquareters. We thought the new jackets would make the homeless happy even if it wasn’t the color or size they wanted. A lot of people wanted only a certain color and a certain size, and they even refused saying that they didn’t need our gift which made the KAIST team embarrassed. People in need are not without their own needs or tastes. Before sharing love, we learned a valuable lesson that we should look at what the other person wants and needs. Philanthropy starts with WATCHING!


2. Philanthropy grows with TOUCHING

The next keyword is touching: there are people in the world who need help, there are people who can help, and there are fundraisers and volunteers who try to connect these two groups of people to share love. I’m sure many NGOs and NPOs who are here are working hard. But whether it’s for children in Africa who suffer from hunger or for the elderly who live alone, it’s not easy to get donations from others. Let’s take the Red Cross blood donation campaign for example. Red Cross blood donation buses are parked near major subway stations in Seoul, the staff with white gowns and red draperies encourage people to donate blood who are busily going to work. If there are not much blood donors, they would even follow you and start begging. In this kind of situations, do you usually stop walking and go donate your blood? I don’t think many of you do. Although I try donate blood whenever I get a chance, I’ve never done it near the subway station on my way to work in the morning. Why? Because you don’t want to be late for work for blood donation. :) By the way, do you remember a young man named Seongdeok Bauman who was born 23 years ago to a single mother in 1996, adopted to the U.S. and entered the U.S. Air Force Academy? Unfortunately he was diagnosed with chronic white blood disease and came to Korea to find a donor that would give him the right marrow. At that time, more than 10,000 Koreans volunteered to take a blood marrow test. The cadets were also given as a group. What was the difference between a Red Cross blood donation bus and the Bauman case? Perhaps there was a difference between push in the former and pull in the latter. If someone grabs your sleeve on the street and forces you to donate money or blood, you would turn away, but if you touch people’s minds on air or through SNS, like Seongdeok Bauman, you’re going to donate by yourself. Since 2013, I have been serving as a leader of a youth volunteer group to foster the leadership of young people in the Korea Food for the Hungry International, a local NGO. During my one-year career, I visited the village of St. Lazaro in Uiwang, Gyeonggi-do, every April, to donate some food and perform for the patients. But when we visited in the first year, our group members dropped the refreshments on the patients’ lap and turned around without even looking at their faces. And then they got a stiff face. I immediately approached the patients, and thanked them holding their hands tight one by one for giving their time for us. I asked them to enjoy the performance. Then, the patients’ hard faces started to spread out a little bit and they enjoyed our group’s performance until the end. How would it be if our group performed right after putting down the refreshments on the patients laps? I think the atmosphere was very gloomy from beginning to end. Just as we had to touch the hearts of donors in order to draw donations, we learned that we needed to understand and touch the hearts of donors so that love will be fully delivered to the recipients. Therefore, I think that Philanthropy grows by touching the hearts of donors and recipients. Philanthropy grows with TOUCHING! :)


3. Philanthropy matures with CATCHING

The last keyword is caching. There is an African proverb that says, “Go alone to get there quickly and go together to go far.” I think it’s a necessary principle for philanthropists. In fact, whether you’re a profit-seeking company or a nonprofit organization, there’s not much you can do on your own and you can’t expect big results. A mature, successful phillantropy is when a person’s small attempts and passions spread to many people around her/him, creating a huge butterfly effect. Pastor Choi Il-do’s passion has made Cheongnyangni Babfor Sharing Movement, and in accordance with Father Lee Tae-seok’s wishes, the Salessio Monastery will build 100 new elementary schools in the South Sudan area. Also, upon hearing the drinking water shortage of African villages on air, Mrs. Roh Guk-ja has dug 25 wells in Africa and Southeast Asian countries over the past 13 years with money she saved by collecting wastepaper and persuading neighbors and churchgoers. As soon as I attended her lecture, I became a fan of her and donated to the African well-willing account on the business card that she gave me. So what process or effort does it take for a person’s own philanthropy to spread to all of us? In other words, what’s the catalyst for the spread of philanthropy? I think three things are important. The first is the Great Story. American writer Mark Twain said: “Tell the fact, and you’ll believe it. Tell the truth, and you’ll learn it. Tell the story, you will keep it in mind for the rest of my life.“ I think the power of the story is really great. Bapfor story, the story , and the story of Roh Guk-ja all get stuck in your mind once you hear them, and it’s hard to forget. I want you to find the stories that touched you in whatever activity you’re doing. The second catalyst for the butterfly effect is video and SNS. In the past, I learned that it is more important to look at it once than to hear it a hundred times because it is called “Seeing is believing, The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” But these days, it seems to be the era of “One video is worth a thousand pictures.” Thanks to SNS such as Facebook and Kakao Talk, we are now in a world where anyone can create or share moving video content if they want to. Has anyone seen the video, “The Life of a Litter,” made by Korea Food for the Hungry International five years ago? This one-minute, 54-second video has garnered more than 1.2 million views on YouTube. Then, a famous local bottled water company suggested a sharing project together. The last catalyst I’m going to introduce to you for the spread of philanthropy is the priming water. The first time you draw water from a well, you first pour a little bit of priming water and then start pumping. Whether it’s a fundraising campaign or the formation of a group of major gifts, we also need to find priming water for the spread of philanthropy activities. As you walk down the street, when people swarm around somewhere, your eyes follows it. It makes the same sense that Internet users search a lot of real-time search keywords. People, whether they’re offline or online, are supposed to be attracted to something that other people are interested in. If you have an idea for a great philanthropy and you’re starting a related campaign, before you start, consider who can play the role of the main character of this campaign. Four years ago, Korea Food for the Hungry International created the Heritage Club for a legacy donation agreement. My mother who was priming water, Seol Soon-hee, was 85 years old. When my mother, who was the first Heritage died of an unexpected brain hemorrhage the following year, others who had heard the story started to join and now there are 13 members at Korea Food for the Hungry International Heritage Club. I think it’s the best gift I’ve ever given her in my life that I’ve invited her to join the Heritage Club. The Philanthropy Club, which started a year earlier than the Heritage Club, is a major gift community for people with more than 100 million won in high funding or sponsorship agreements. Who was the main character of this Philanthropy club? The first is Ms. Roh Guk-kwon, the second is me, and Mr. Kim Jung-ho, the chairperson of Bear Better who has sent 5,000 breads a week to North Korean children, and chairperson Kang Suk-chang, the founder of COSMOCOS who is longtime supporter of Korea Food for the Hungry International. Thanks to the priming water effect, the philanthropy club was able to have more than 120 members in just four years.


It’s time to wrap up my speech.

Shall we review the three keywords?

Philanthropy starts with WATCHING.

Always watching your surroundings with eyes.

Philanthropy grows with TOUCHING

Touching the hearts of donors and recipients.

Philanthropy matures with CATCHING.

Be a person-fishing fisherperson who spread love to every corner of the world.

Thank you!

Mr. Girija Satish, Founder Member President, Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra, Hazaribag Jharkhand,India