This article was contributed by James Hill, who works for III and curates the Taipei StartupDigest. Follow him on Twitter @jameshilltaiwan.
It’s not often you see a well thought-out, meaningful, beautifully designed web campaign from a bank or financial institution, so it was nice to discover the latest effort from Taishin Charity Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Taishin International Bank.
Currently running, the charity’s Power of Love campaign aims to get resources and funding to charities and community groups across the country. Once logged in via Facebook, users can search for their favorite charities along six themes, the elderly, childcare, people with disabilities, the vulnerable, culture and education or digital learning. Users can then select charities by region to concentrate their votes in one category, or particular area of Taiwan. There are projects for Aboriginal groups, study groups for children from low income families, traditional Chinese New Year meals (尾牙) for the homeless, design competitions, e-learning and computer literacy for those without access to computers at home. Each user can vote for up to ten charities or projects, which can then be shared via Facebook in an interactive animation letting friends and family see which charitable causes won your vote. Here are the projects that I voted for:
Digital Farmers – This project aims to teach traditional farmers how to use digital technologies, by getting them online and showing them how computers can improve their daily lives. I’ve seen this kind of program elsewhere, where yields can be increased and lives improved by simply putting technology in the palm of their hand.
Digital Divide – A similar project in Hualien County, aiming at helping children from low income families keep up with their better-off classmates. This project will provide classes and workshops on all computer-related topics.
E-Learning – Teaching the less well-off of Keelung how to get online and use computers to improve their lives.
Univeral Design – If you’ve ever been to Taiwan, you’ll know that uneven pavements, chockablock with hastily-parked motorbikes are tough to negotiate. Now imagine you’re in a wheelchair. Universal Design aims to create well designed products and open spaces that all can use, regardless of mobility.
Wei Ya – The traditional year-end meal that companies put on for their employees is the Taiwanese version of the Christmas office party, and usually involves lots of wine, prizes and entertainment. This project, now in its 22nd year hosts Wei Ya parties up and down the island for the country’s homeless community.
Reading Classes – When families fall apart, children’s grades can suffer and in Taiwan’s rigid education system that can cause massive problems for those seeking to educate themselves out of poverty. These classes will mentor and provide extra support for children from vulnerable families, ensuring they can keep up with their schoolwork.
Job Growth – It’s sometimes easy to forget that as Taiwanese manufacturers move overseas, jobs are lost here at home. This project based in the industrial county of Taoyuan and seeks to support the unemployed, create new job opportunities in the community and replace jobs lost through globalization.
Care for the Elderly – Taking out the trash, sweeping up and cooking a hot meal can get challenging as people get older, and with Taiwan’s rapidly aging population, old people here are more in need than ever. This project will help support over 2,600 elderly residents in the central Taiwan, delivering meals, cleaning up and making sure they have everything they need.
Aboriginal Culture – The blatant disregard for and systematic destruction of Taiwan’s native cultures has been recently explored in the blockbuster Seediq Bale, and it might shock you to know that there are 23 indigenous Taiwanese languages on the UNESCO list of endangered languages. This projects aims to help indigenous communities preserve their cultures by recording traditions and histories as well as ensuring the next generation learn the language, dances and foods specific to their tribe.
Aboriginal Education – Like their counterparts in North America, Australia and elsewhere, it comes as no surprise that education, unemployment and other societal problems are worse in indigenous communities than the general population.
While Taiwan has embraced technology like no other country, it is still surprising that 30% or nearly 7 million people are without Internet access. By harnessing web 2.0, Taishin aims to get the rest of us thinking about those less fortunate. So, regardless of whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, take the time to vote for your favorite charitable projects, which could win grants of NT$500,000, NT$250,000 or NT$100,000. By connecting via Facebook, we can all help Taiwan’s more vulnerable by just clicking on a couple of links. Voting ends November 30.