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Q1 Can private companies registered under the Company Ordinance submit applications?
Ans Yes, but the projects implemented by private companies should be able to develop social capital effectively and must be for non-profit-making purpose. All revenue/profits accrued from the projects must be reinvested into the project.

Q2 Are religious or political groups eligible to apply for this Fund?
Ans Any legally registered body in Hong Kong may apply for the Fund but the proposed project should be able to effectively develop social capital. However, the Fund would not support pure evangelism or electioneering activities.

Q3 Can statutory organisations monitored by the Government, such as the Hospital Authority (HA), apply for the Fund?
Ans Individuals and government departments are not eligible to apply for the Fund. As the HA is an organisation independent of the Government, it is therefore eligible to apply for the Fund.

Q4 The Fund requires that applicants must be registered organisations. Does it mean that the Fund will only accept applications from large and experienced organisations?
Ans There will be no bias against small groups nor will large organisations be in a more advantageous position to apply for the Fund. It is the objective of the Fund to encourage the development of support networks amongst different sectors and different social strata in the community. Applications from newly set up small groups/organisations without adequate resources are welcome and will be considered given that they can provide information to prove their successful experience in organising community activities or expertise and creativity to implement their projects.

Q5 If the project is rejected by the CIIF Committee for the first time, can we re-submit the proposal? Can we request an interview with the Committee to explain the project?
Ans Applicants can certainly re-submit proposals after appropriate modifications or revisions are made. At a practical level, it is not feasible for the Committee to interview every applicant. However, where necessary and appropriate, an interview with the Committee can be considered and arranged.

Q6 Can an organisation submit more than one application?
Ans Yes, provided that the organisation can demonstrate its capability to manage and implement multiple projects at the same time.

Q1 Can we organise projects targeted at all the people in Hong Kong or should we design projects on community basis?
Ans The Fund will consider supporting both types of projects provided that the design of the project can effectively develop social capital.

Q2 Would the CIIF Committee consider projects that will take place outside of Hong Kong, such as projects that will be carried out on the Mainland or in collaboration with organisations on the Mainland?
Ans Subject to compliance with applicable laws and procedures, the project may be carried out in collaboration with or through seeking information/resources from other networks outside of Hong Kong, but the project must be carried out in Hong Kong, and the beneficiary of the project should be the Hong Kong community.

Q3 Will the Fund support an existing service run by the applicant organisation?
Ans The Fund is not intended for providing supplementary or gap funding for existing services.

Q4 Will the Fund subsidise the projects that have already been financed by other Funds?
Ans The Fund will not duplicate, replace or supplement other Government Funds. To avoid duplication of resources, the CIIF Secretariat will consult relevant government departments during the assessment process.

Q5 Would the Fund finance the conduct of research?
Ans Research-based projects are not the primary focus of this Fund. The objective of the Fund is to develop and build up social capital in the community through implementation of community-initiated projects. Having said that, the Fund encourages participation of academics in summing up experience and evaluating the outcome. As such, the Fund will consider providing financial support for conducting research.

Q6 Can the grant be used for building maintenance works such as improving the water quality of buildings?
Ans No. These are regular property maintenance or enhancement measures for the private benefits of individual residents. The Fund primarily supports projects that help build up social capital and encourage mutual help among people from various sectors, which will help achieve the outcome of benefiting the whole community/society.

Q1 Does the Fund require that applying projects must fill in the information about their key collaborators?
Ans The Fund has been advocating cross-sectoral collaboration to achieve the benefits of sharing community resources and building up social capital. The Fund therefore attaches great importance to whether the projects can engage stakeholders of different sectors or districts into key collaborators. This is also one of the important criteria that the CIIF Committee applies in assessing the proposals.

Q2 What kinds of collaborative relationship or co-operative nature can be regarded as a "key collaborator"?
Ans It means that the partner has to play an active role in implementing the project, which can mobilise resources and networks, with a view to enhancing the strategy and effectiveness of the project. For example,

(i) a school takes part in promoting students' understanding of social capital and encouraging them to form community caring teams; or

(ii) members of an enterprise's volunteer team act as "family ambassadors" who will regularly visit and care about families or impart professional knowledge and experience; or

(iii) a government department builds up networks with residents in its designated service area to jointly improve the local environment and public order, etc.

On the contrary, one-off collaboration or collaboration in supplementary nature such as providing support to the project through provision of venue or assistance in promotion will not be considered within the scope of “key collaborator”.

Q3 Is it necessary to fill in any key collaborator under deliberation in the application form?
Ans If an applicant considers that the collaborative relationship under deliberation falls within the scope of "key collaborator" mentioned in Q2 above, the details can be provided and marked "under deliberation" in the application form for the CIIF Committee's information.

Q4 What are performance indicators?
Ans Performance indicators are used to measure and reflect the achievement of objectives or the degree of anticipated improvement. The major measurement areas for building up social capital include mutual trust, mutual help, cross-sectoral collaboration and a sense of belonging to the community. In setting performance indicators, the SMART principle should be applied:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Time specific

Q5 How should Item 2.3 be completed if participants turn to be volunteers during the course of project implementation?
Ans An applicant should complete the item in accordance with the identities of various targets when they first take part in the project. If a group of youngsters are originally clients, please fill in the Column "Number of Participants". When their identities/roles change in the course of participation, it will be reported in the Progress Performance and Evaluation Report of the project after approval.

Q6 Should the "attendance" or "number" of participants of a project be counted as a unit when completing Item 2.3 of the application form?
Ans The "number" of participants should be counted as a unit because the Fund focuses on the transformation of various stakeholders, including individuals, bodies and organisations, and the formation of mutual trust networks rather than the attendance during the course of participation in the project. If participants take part in more than one event of a project, the applicant should deduct the duplicated numbers of volunteers and attendances of participants when filling in data for individual events of a project.

Q7 For Item 2.5 "Method of Evaluating Effectiveness", is it necessary for the applicant to provide a very detailed proposal and conduct the assessment in collaboration with an academic institute?
Ans It is necessary to devise a mechanism, including assessment methods, tools and schedule, for evaluating the effectiveness of a project before implementation. The assessment method may be in the form of quantitative or qualitative study, questionnaire survey, focus groups, data statistics, pre and post test, etc. The assessment tools may vary with different scopes of review. The Fund also encourages the applicant organisations/bodies to co-operate with an academic institute in devising suitable assessment tools. However, it is not a necessary requirement.

Applicants are not required to submit the details of each assessment tool at this stage, but they should submit the aims of study and relevant information to the Fund for examination and approval if the evaluation study involves any additional cost.

Q8 What does a Development and Sustainability Plan mean? If my project proves to be very successful, will the Fund consider financing the project after completion?
Ans CIIF will provide fund for a project for no more than three years with a view to financing community-initiated innovative projects to develop social capital. A sustainable project can generally foster participants' sense of belonging to the community and enable them to be master of their own life. The mutual help network formed by the project can be further reinforced and sustained, which can then operate on a self-programming and self-financing basis in the long run. If the project can promote long-term cross-sectoral collaboration, these collaborative efforts should be able to help enhance the effectiveness of the project continuously.

The Fund, rather than a long-term subsidy, will finance a project for no more than three years. If the organisation can put forward a project to be implemented in the subsequent stage with rationale and sound ideas, the CIIF Committee will take this into consideration.

Q9 Are there any restrictions on the number of staff involved and requirement of relevant qualification in the project?
Ans The number of staff employed and their qualification requirement will depend on the prescribed nature and complexity of the project. In general, staff cost should not exceed 75% of the overall budget expenditure, or the applicant has to provide substantial justifications. The employment terms and conditions shall not be better than those for comparable jobs in the civil service.

Q1 We are a small organisation and we may not have sufficient fund to carry out the project at the initial stage. Can we apply for an advance payment?
Ans Starting from the 28th batch of application, CIIF releases the grant by instalments and in different percentages of the total approved grant in accordance with different project periods. This could relieve the cash flow and financial burden of small organisations.

Q2 What types of expenses will not be subsidised? Is it allowed to apply for the purchase of equipment like vehicles?
Ans Normally the Fund will not support the expenses of one-off activities, such as banquets, movie-watching, karaoke and giving out gifts, which will have no long lasting effect on social capital development. Funding will depend on whether the equipment to be purchased is crucial and reasonable to the achievement of the project objective. Expensive items such as vehicles and photocopiers will not normally be considered.

Q3 Will the Fund support the lease of premises for use as an office or activity venue?
Ans Before proceeding to lease new sites or premises, first consideration must be given to whether there are other possible shared facilities that can be better used. Shared facilities are a good start to save resources, more cost-effective in the long run, as well as providing the starting point to bring different groups together. We encourage applicant organisations/bodies to note that often most communities do have existing premises that can be more opened up to facilitate community use, such as church premises during the evening of weekdays, and school premises that are available during evenings or weekends. Reasonable cost for the lease of such premises can be included in the project budget. As for the lease of office accommodation and venues, the CIIF Committee will only take this into consideration if the applicant can provide substantial justifications.

Q4 Can a project receive any donation or sponsorship from sources other than the Fund?
Ans If any donation or sponsorship for the project is anticipated, it should be reflected in the budget with details of the donation or sponsorship as well as the special requests (such as acknowledgements), if any, of the donor or sponsor. Meanwhile, the donation or sponsorship from the tobacco industry or individuals/bodies having any direct or indirect conflict of interest with the project should be avoided.

Q5 Can travelling expenses of the volunteers, rent for vehicles, etc. be included in the budget?
Ans Yes, volunteers' subsidies can cover subsistence and travelling expenses. The rent for vehicles can be included in the programme expenses.

Q6 Will the CIIF Committee only go for partial funding of a project? Can there be any "negotiation" over the level of funding to be granted?
Ans It is important for applicants to put forward, and for the CIIF Committee to approve, a reasonable, complete, realistic and cost-effective project budget. It may be counter-productive for applicants to inflate a budget as this will affect the reasonableness or viability of the entire project that is otherwise worth supporting. The CIIF Committee's decision is final.

Q7 There is a cost for operating a bank account with a small turnover. Is it realistic to require a small organisation to open and operate a separate bank account for the project?
Ans Yes, the requirement for opening a separate bank account for the project is to ensure easier and clearer project management, reporting and auditing of accounts for the funded project. It minimises the risk of the project fund being absorbed into the overall funding pool of the "host" organisation. Realistic costs for the operation of the account can be built into the project budget.

Q8 How can a separate bank account be opened for a project co-organised by different groups?
Ans One of the co-organisers should be identified as the lead applicant for opening the separate account in a registered bank.

Q9 What is the purpose of requiring the applicant organisation to submit its audited statement of accounts?
Ans The applicant organisation should submit a set of the latest audited reports or certified management accounts; for management accounts, should include (1) Income and Expenditure Accounts/Income Statement, (2) Balance Sheet/Statement of Financial Positions, for the purpose of enabling the Fund to make reference to and understand the financial position and capability of the applicant to complete the project.

Q10 Can the Grantee seek increase in funding when implementing the project?
Ans The Fund will normally not consider supplementary funding. It is important for the project output, cost and budget to be estimated as accurately as possible right from the start.

Q11 Would the Grantee be allowed to make minor adjustments across the funded items to fix minor problems or gaps?
Ans Yes, a certain level will be allowed. The level of virement that is allowed to be made without requiring further prior approval from the Secretariat will be specified in the Conditions of Grant. Prior approval from the Secretariat must be obtained before other variations to the deployment of funds are to be made.

Q12 Will funds be released in phases taking into consideration the performance of the project?
Ans The Grantee must submit to the Fund in a timely manner all necessary documents, including the Progress Performance and Evaluation Report, Project Completion Performance and Evaluation Report and Annual Audited Report, etc. Starting from the 28th batch of application, after confirming that the performance of the project is satisfactory and all the information is correct, the Fund will release funds by instalments and in different percentages of the total approved grant in accordance with different project periods.

Q13 Can the grant cover other expenses involved in the project, such as the insurance premiums for staff or facilities?
Ans Yes. Since the Grantee must provide adequate insurance coverage for staff and facilities, the insurance premiums can be covered by the grant.

Q1 When can applications be submitted? How long will the applications be processed?
Ans The Fund accepts funding applications thrice every two years at a normal interval of eight months. The latest announcements will be uploaded onto the Fund website. If the information submitted by the applicant is correct and complete, the Fund will issue notification of result within six months from the closing date for funding applications.

Q2 What types of projects will the Fund support? What are the assessment criteria?
Ans The Fund will support projects that can effectively build up social capital, including those promoting neighbourhood mutual help relationship, enhancing the social networks of individuals and families, as well as creating opportunities for developing cross-sectoral collaboration platforms. The assessment criteria mainly cover four parts with 12 criteria as follows:

A. Expertise on Building Social Capital and its Promotion (15%)
1. Clear objectives with potential for social capital development.
2. Accurate assessment that can address community needs.
3. Ways of promoting social capital.

B. Project Effectiveness (65%)
4. Effective and innovative intervention model and networking strategies.
5. Strategic programme plan that can effectively achieve the project objectives.
6. Specific and measurable performance indicators with effective tools and methods of evaluation.
7. Support from key collaborators with effective synergy effects.
8. Sustainability and contribution to social capital development.
9. Reasonable and cost-effective budget.

C. Institutional Capability (15%)
10. Track record, effective leadership and strategic advantages of applicant institution/organisation.
11. Financial management capability and stability of the institution.

D. Others (5%)
12. Ability to identify and address risks/difficulties.

(Note: Only applicants with scores over 50% of the full marks in each of the Parts A, B and C will be considered.)

Q3 Is there any targeted number of approved applications for each batch?
Ans There is no targeted number of approved applications or any pre-determined approved sum for each batch.

Q4 Does the Fund have assessment mechanism and procedures for approving projects?
Ans The Fund adopts this 3-tier assessment structure and procedures for approving projects:

1. CIIF Secretariat:
  • initially assesses applicants' proposals and verifies the information submitted;
  • collects the views of other government bureaux/departments;
  • on the basis of the initial score and where appropriate, arranges an interview with the applicant institution/organisation for a better understanding. The applicant may need to amend the proposal after the interview; and
  • conducts an overall analysis and submits a paper of recommendations to the Assessment and Evaluation Sub-committee (AESC)

2. AESC:
  • discusses applicants' proposals and submits preliminary recommendations to the CIIF Committee for approval

3. CIIF Committee:
  • decides on whether the recommendations of the AESC should be approved

Q5 Will the Fund interview all applicants on an individual basis?
Ans Where appropriate, the Fund will interview an applicant before examining and approving its proposal for a better understanding of the project and an exchange of views over the development of social capital.

Q6 Is it true that the Fund will not finance similar projects in the same district where a previous one has been approved?
Ans Our main consideration is whether the project can meet the specific needs of the district concerned. If adequate projects and services of the same kind have already been running in one district, it will not be necessary to duplicate the efforts in the same district.

Q7 Will a project put forward by a registered social worker (RSW) or by a subvented NGO has a greater chance of success?
Ans The Fund is not exclusively set up for supporting subvented services with the involvement of RSWs. A project will not automatically gain an advantage just because it is put forward by a RSW or by a subvented NGO. The Fund mainly considers the project’s contribution to social capital building and the applicant’s ability and leadership in implementing the project.

Q8 What will be done if the performance of an approved project is found unsatisfactory after a period of time or if the nature of the project is found to have deviated from the original intention?
Ans Mutual trust and integrity are very important elements of the Fund. The Conditions of Grant would be specified at the outset, with provisions that Grantees need to submit Progress Performance and Evaluation Report and financial reports as the grounds for releasing the subsidy. The Fund may consider exercising its discretion if the Grantee can provide reasonable explanation for adjusting the implementation details of the project. If the required changes are so major that they have altered the very nature of the project, then the Fund may suspend, terminate or claw back payment as appropriate.

Q9 If an approved project proposal fails to achieve its planned objectives and is terminated mid-way, should all the equipment/properties invested be returned to the Fund?
Ans Yes. All capital of the project financed by non-recurrent funding must be returned to the Fund if the project is terminated mid-way.

Q1 Is it a must for the project to have cross-sectoral collaboration for it to be considered by the Fund?
Ans Not necessarily. While it is one of the objectives of the Fund to encourage joint-up efforts across different sectors, it is not the only qualifying factor. However, if all things are equal, then a project that has broad-base and cross-sectoral participation and support will be considered more favourably

Q2 What is the Fund's bottom line for business involvement in the community projects? E.g. to what extent will the Fund accept private business getting product promotion through sponsoring the projects?
Ans The projects must focus on social capital building for the common good. The bottom line is crossed if the interests of the private business begin to displace or dominate the objectives of the community project. The joint-up effort is expected to generate common good for the community, and not for the private business to gain pecuniary advantages or make a profit for the business.

Q3 What role does the Fund/the CIIF Secretariat play in promoting cross-sectoral collaboration??
Ans The “SC.Net” was established in 2008, which is a platform for engaging a group of enthusiastic and experienced persons in different sectors to contribute to social capital building. “SC.Net Buddy for You” is a matching scheme for CIIF project teams to obtain support from SC.Net Members. The Fund also organises the biennially “Social Capital Builder Awards Scheme” to recognise the contributions by organisations and individuals in social capital building in Hong Kong. This is to encourage all sectors in the community to develop the spirit of mutual help and mutual trust, so as to explore more collaboration models in response to the needs of the community and to inject new energy into social capital projects. In addition, the Fund organises “Cross-sectoral Collaboration Meetings” periodically so that CIIF project teams can meet with potential partners in different sectors, with a view to having further exchanges and collaboration opportunities.

Q4 How can the business sector be involved in social capital building?
Ans There are representatives from the business sector sitting on the CIIF Committee, who actively contribute their professional expertise. Moreover, some business organisations have already developed very active corporate volunteering or corporate sponsorship schemes in fulfilling corporate social responsibilities. There are lots of potentials for the business sector to be involved in furthering their social responsibilities in a variety of ways. Business organisations which are interested in collaborating with CIIF project teams may contact the Secretariat.

Q1 What is "sustainable development"? Does it mean "financial sustainability", that is, the funded project can continue to operate on a self-financing basis after the funding period?
Ans "Sustainable development" means that the funded project can continue to extend and deepen the achievements of social capital after the funding period. Social capital consists of six core components, namely social networks, trust and solidarity, mutual-help and reciprocity, social cohesion and inclusion, social participation as well as information and communication. CIIF therefore attaches importance to the sustainable development of the above constituents, such as value change and role transformation, as well as social capital outcomes like the sustainable development of cross-sectoral collaboration, complementarity, trust, cohesion, support networks and community capacity. Financial factors including whether the project can continue to obtain financial support or whether it can continue to operate on a self-financing basis is not the major criterion for the assessment of project sustainability.

Q2 Why does CIIF require all Grantees to evaluate the achievement level of their objectives and the effectiveness of social capital building periodically when the projects are being implemented? What is a good and objective evaluation?
Ans To ensure good progress and objective assessment of the effectiveness of projects, CIIF requires all Grantees to evaluate the achievement level of their objectives and the effectiveness of social capital building periodically when the projects are being implemented. For an effective and objective evaluation, Grantees may consider conducting different types of evaluation based on the needs and characteristics of individual projects. The most common types of evaluation include "effectiveness analysis" and "impact analysis". The purpose of "effectiveness analysis", in which research methods such as "person-as-own comparison", "pre-post change comparison" and "longitudinal status comparison" are commonly used, is to analyse whether the project itself can achieve the objectives set; while "impact analysis", in which a comparison between "experimental group" and "control group" is most commonly adopted, is to understand the impact of the project on service users. Besides, for an effective assessment of the social capital outcomes achieved by its projects, CIIF devised a local “Social Capital Scale” in end-2012. After validation of the Scale, direct participants and volunteers of funded projects have been invited since July 2013 to fill in the “Social Capital Scale” at least twice during the funding period. All data will be used by CIIF in consolidating the experience and effectiveness of social capital building.

Q3 What kinds of project experience will CIIF focus on and consolidate? How will CIIF process the information submitted by project teams?
Ans In addition to the service output and the effectiveness of social capital building, CIIF attaches great importance to the consolidation of practice wisdom, which include the intervention model and strategy of the project and their effectiveness, the contributions of key collaborators, promotion and publicity strategies, the key success factors, the difficulties/challenges that Grantees encountered with the contingency measures taken, the best practices of effective cross-sectoral networking in social capital building, and the status of sustainable development. Project teams are provided with "Progress Performance and Evaluation Report" and "Project Completion Performance and Evaluation Report", which serve as the clear frameworks for submission of information. After receiving the information from Grantees, the CIIF Secretariat will designate colleagues to analyse and consolidate the experience of individual project teams. These valuable data and information are very useful reference for the development of the Fund and social capital. From time to time, CIIF will consolidate project experience and share the results through various channels with a view to enriching the local experience of social capital building.

Q4 Will the project outcomes be uploaded to the CIIF website? Will experience sharing sessions be held on a regular basis to help potential applicants gain experience?
Ans CIIF strives to share project outcomes and practical experience through different channels with stakeholders and the public. CIIF also organises good practices sharing sessions for Grantees so that they can have experience exchange on the building up of social capital. For example, CIIF has commissioned several research teams from local universities twice to evaluate the overall effectiveness of funded projects in promoting social capital development. The findings were uploaded to CIIF website for public viewing and downloading. CIIF also holds regular sharing sessions and forums for experience exchange among prospective applicants, Grantees and stakeholders.

Q5 Is it permissible for the project to keep a surplus to make it sustainable after the funding period?
Ans The Grantee must return any unspent balance of the approved grant. However, the project can apply for retaining the extra income generated from the projects for the purpose of continuous development.

Q6 What will happen to the assets/profits gained as a result of the project if the original applicant organisation is dissolved or a new organisation is formed to continue with the development of the project?
Ans Under normal circumstances, the assets bought as a result of the grant must be returned to the Fund if the applicant organisation is dissolved. If a new entity evolves out of the original applicant organisation, then the normal legal procedures of winding up the original organisation and its accounts as well as handling the assets should apply.