In Shanghaiist’s Philanthropist feature, we highlight individuals and groups doing interesting things to make the world a little bit of a better place. This week we talk to Seven Fund, who in addition to making the largest personal donation to Roots & Shoots, simply define the term “nice people.”
Every so often, you come across the group that transcends the general rules of relationships, charity work, and general goodwill, and who makes us seriously reconsider what we’ve been doing for the last ten years.
Such is the case of Seven Fund. This private group (with seven members, natch) just donated 25,000 rmb to Roots & Shoots’ Million Tree Project, about which we covered here. They alone secured 1,000 trees in Kulun Qi, Inner Mongolia. And they’re not done yet: they’re hoping to donate 40,000 rmb to a Hope School in Anhui Province to build sports facilities, and are searching for a third project to fund this year.
“We’re just looking for meaningful activities that can make a difference,” said Angela Wang, the group’s resident spokeswoman.
This outpouring of generosity is part of what makes Seven Fund unique. Instead of focusing on coordinating projects, they are focused on funding them. They have an annual budget of 100,000 rmb (a “cost” divided among the members of the group) and have dedicated themselves to finding Good Things to Do.
Everything about the group is also refreshingly and humbly homemade — they choose the projects, they go out and oversee each project. Even Ms. Wang, one of the seven members, was only chosen as a spokesperson when Roots & Shoots encouraged them to do so.
“This attention is very new. We thought we would be low profile,” said Ms. Wang. “But anything to give focus to Roots & Shoots, to encourage people to help.”
The formation of Seven Fund (b. 2010) was a long time coming. The four women of the group first met over ten years ago, when they all worked at Unilever. In an unbelievably envy-inducing feat, the coworkers got along splendidly, and have since been the best of friends. Three of them are married — rounding out the last three men of the Seven Fund.
Charity work was also not something new. They had all individually worked as volunteers or as sponsors in a variety of worthy causes. One family funded a scholarship for low-income students to attend high school. Another collected and donated toys to a kindergarten for disabled youth here in Shanghai. Yet another fueled the construction of a Hope School — the same school for which they plan to build sports facilities. The foundation of Seven Fund came about when they realized they could do more together — to share information and designate responsibilities.
The focus on the environment, instead of education, is also something new. “It was something that came naturally. After one couple came back from Australia and told us about the environment there, we knew that there was much work to be done in China,” said Ms. Wang. Education and environment, she mused, was something that was on the forefront of Seven Fund’s agenda.
“Two couples in our groups have kids. One is eight, one is two. We were thinking about their future. We were happy to help the Million Trees Project. Roots & Shoots were doing something very great.”
As for the future of the Seven Fund, Ms. Wang is humble. “We never thought that anybody would be interested, or that anybody would like to join” she laughs. “It’s just that, over the last ten years, we have had a lot of time to think about our values, and we thought contributing to society was important. We’re just happy to help.”