A Better Community (ABC)
Founded in 2008 by Yang Qian, ABC is a registered business built around consulting for small and medium-sized CSOs in mainland China. The organization’s work centers on cultivating volunteer teams from the private sector to consult on short-term projects for nonprofit organizations struggling in the areas of strategic planning, marketing, fundraising, stakeholder engagement, and other issues. In 2013, ABC registered as a limited liability company dedicated to strengthening the social sector. It retains 11 full-time staff that coordinate professional volunteers, do the fundraising, and provide research on professionalization in the nonprofit sector. ABC sees its business model as similar to Airbnb, Uber, and other “sharing economy” style organizations.
Theory of Change
Businesses built around a “sharing economy” model can strengthen the charitable sector by engaging volunteer professionals to reduce costs of high-quality consulting services for organizational development.
ABC has offered volunteer-driven professional consulting services for charitable, nonprofit projects and organizations, connected professionals from the private sector with nonprofits and charities and provided professional development and networking to volunteers who work in teams with consultants from other high-caliber for-profit and nonprofit institutions. In 2015, ABC began charging CSOs a fee based on their capacity and revenue levels, but far below market rate. This fee-for-service model enabled the organization to hire a larger staff of volunteer coordinators and other part-time staff while they spread their model to more cities. To build high-quality volunteer teams, ABC has forged partnerships with companies known for having some of the best consultants in the field. Volunteers enter the ABC team because they are looking for meaningful personal connections and work. Once recruited, volunteers receive basic training on the nonprofit sector, and how their consulting can support the development of the nonprofit sector.
The increasing complexity of volunteer teams and consulting projects led ABC to innovate an internal wiki system that recorded the detailed history of all consulting cases previously undertaken by the organization. It helped provide volunteer teams with a system for reviewing past cases and ensuring more consistent quality. Since ABC adopted a “fee + donation” model, it has been able to offer consulting services at rates well below market level. Also, ABC has partnered with supporting foundations to offer their services to nonprofit organizations and to do some crowdfunding. It has established a legal public fundraising account under Shanghai’s United Foundation, a public fundraising foundation. This partnership allowed ABC to participate in online crowdfunding platforms such as TenCent’s “99 Charity Day”, an annual fundraising campaign for NGOs to raise funds directly from the public.