The Gift of Education
Ricky Cheng is the executive vice president at the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.
Tell us a little about your background.
I have always had an interest in education. I believe that the best way to help people is to give them an education, so that they can choose their own path. Give them an education, and they will have a lot more options in life. And there is a ripple effect; education not only changes their lives, but also the lives of their children, grandchildren, and many others around them.
I worked in the commercial field for 21 years before joining The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in 2003. That was a great opportunity for me to combine my business skills with my personal interest in education. I established their Office of Institutional Advancement to help raise funds for the university. And we had great success – we were able to substantially increase financial support and renew the commitment of alumni.
How did you first learn about the United Board?
I got to know the United Board through its programs. While I was at CUHK, I was invited to share my experience in fundraising at seminars for the United Board Fellows Program and the Asian University Leaders Program. Over the years, as I met many of these current and future leaders, I came to admire the work the United Board is doing in Christian higher education.
Most of the colleges and universities in the United Board network are smaller than CUHK. That appeals to me, because if I can help the United Board raise money, it will have a significant impact on these smaller institutions even with modest amounts of money.
What is your role at the United Board?
My foremost role is fundraising for the United Board’s programs, which greatly benefit some 80 network institutions. But to do that, I need to communicate with our current and potential donors and friends the achievement and the significant impact of our work. The United Board has done marvelous work in Christian higher education in Asia, but it is only known to a small community! Our newsletter, our website, and personal visits give us opportunities to tell our story. This helps us expand our circle of friends and hopefully increase the much needed resources for our work.
Does the United Board need resources?
We are fortunate to have built up an endowment over the years. But the need is far, far greater. By raising more resources from our donors, our programs can have much greater reach both in breadth and depth. We can welcome more colleges and universities into our network. We can have more promising young Asian scholars in our programs. We can increase our impact at a time when the needs and potential of higher education in Asia are growing exponentially.
What would you like donors to know?
I would like every donor to know that their donation or bequest will go a long way to help nurturing future Asian leaders with good values and principles who will be an integral part of our network. We will look after these funds as the donors themselves.
Donors can support us in other ways as well. They can help spread the story of the United Board to their friends. They can help build our reputation and let more people know the good work we are doing.
Mostly, I want a chance to get to know our donors! I am based in Hong Kong, but I am often in the United States. Whether our donors are in Asia or North America, I am never more than a day away. So I look forward to meeting more donors and friends.