I had a nice chat with Breezee, Stonesee, Jing Jing and Dan Zhu today. They are Smiling Library founders and key persons in this project. I am proud to be a consultant to help Smiling Library to grow and solve the problems they meet. Smiling Library is helping schools in the poorest areas in China to build libraries with the public donations. They have helped 21 schools to build libraries with 10,000 books. What an achievement! This is the beginning of the third year of its operation.
Image in courtesy of Smiling Library
They gave me the honor to be a part time consult to help them on the direction and management. The last time I talked deeply with them was in Jan of 2004. Another year pasted. I am excited to meet them again in a small restaurant. Their passion is still there and the problems they met keeps coming.
Here are two points I suggested today.
- Make it clear that Smiling Library is an organization that provide services for the donators. To serve the donators and help them deliver their book and money to those who need them is the mission. We need to treat donators well and reward them for their good will. I got this idea from the story of Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library.
- Feel free to accept commercial sponsorship and don’t shy away from using the money donated as operation cost. In the last two years, all the work has been done by volunteers and volunteers have to spend both time and money to participate. I suggest opening for public about the cost of certificate printing, library management, school assistance. If people are willing to sponsor that, we give back publicity. By this way the organization can survey. No one said a not-for-profit organization cannot has its own operation cost.
Meanwhile, I worried a lot that organization like this is still not legal in China. There is no account to hold this money. They can only open private bank account and this is not legal. There are many charity organizations in China that is helping people, but the current law framework does not allow this. This is the biggest barrier for NGO to develop in China, which I cannot help too much on.