Realities Happen in Malaysia
There are many environmental related NGOs that struggle to meet their minimum requirements to operate. It is very hard for them to secure funding and receive enough support, especially from the government and the too few private sectors that would contribute to their causes. Ironically, when disasters happen in our environment, these NGOs are among those who are blamed first for not taking any action by the public who don’t realise the difficulties environmental organisations experience to even maintain their day-to-day operations. Without the existence of these NGOs, our environment might be at risk of extinction as no one nominates themselves to make any changes about it.
Written by : Bella
Widely known NGOs such as Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Global Environment Centre (GEC) and others are often able to secure huge funding from big corporations as a part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR). This is one of the main reasons why these NGOs are able to maintain their operations and have a large workforce who are willing to fight for their cause. What about small NGOs such as the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS), Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery and others that also need funding to maintain their operations? Why is it so hard for them to secure the funding?
Sometimes, the realities faced by these small NGOs are hard to digest or even to understand. Usually, these NGOs are initiated by a small group of people who are driven by the same ambition in protecting the environment (including wildlife). In most cases, NGOs use their own pocket money to operate from their start-up. Since they are a small group, it is hard to convince the public to put trust in them and help them. Nowadays, there are so many cases of where people have been scammed which makes it harder for the general public to trust NGOs even when these NGOs are able to provide evidence of their operations.
Other than the lack of funding, small NGOs lack manpower too. The local community is always ready to work alongside these NGOs but at the same time, it would be unfair for NGOs to rely solely on the goodwill of the people. Generally, our community is very kind and humble and do not ask for money in return for their efforts and time, but as conscientious members of society, there is always a way to give back. For example, you could spend money on the various local industries in Malaysia to indirectly help the local community generate income for their daily lives since the majority of them are fishermen. This is a practice that many local NGOs adopt. For example, TCS works alongside the women in Kampung Pasir Gajah, Kemaman to produce merchandise such as face masks and tote bags made of Batik, batu Seremban (traditional game) and many more. The profits are divided among them and it is a win-win situation for both parties. However, selling merchandise like this cannot solely support and maintain operation costs.
So if you want to support them, you can visit TCS’s website to do some shopping! (https://www.turtleconservationsociety.org.my/shop/).
Besides that, social media platforms play a big role in helping these small NGOs become more recognised and known to the public. Due to constraints of manpower and time, they do not have strong foundations or marketing strategies. This is where independent bodies such as student organisations and individuals come in by helping them promote or even create posters for them. The question is, how far can this take the NGOs? And is it considered successful? Constant exposure in social media is needed to make people aware of it but since they are lacking in this aspect, they still struggle to receive donations from the public.
Another big challenge that NGOs face is the general mentality that volunteering programs are free of charge. Yes, although volunteers are supposed to work for an organisation without pay, who covers the full cost of an event if not the NGOs themselves? We, as Malaysians, should start thinking along those lines and start to join the environmental programs, as well as donate to NGOs. Every single ringgit spent gets to help these small NGOs sustain their momentum for the long term.
(credit: Youths United for Earth aka YUFE)