Our organization, Phi Lambda Charitable Trust (PLCT) is the charitable arm of Phi Lambda, founded almost 100 years ago, with the singular purpose “to labor for the welfare of Chinese people”. To this day we honor this rich legacy through our philanthropic endeavors – all of which still echo the pledge our founders made almost a century ago.
Over the years, with the support of many donors, endowments, and the steadfast dedication of volunteers, our benevolent works have grown to span the oceans, providing life-altering educational opportunities, critical medical aid, strategic family and community support, disaster relief, and the revitalization of our rich Chinese culture and heritage, both in the U.S.A. and abroad.
We are organized as a totally voluntary U.S. based 501(c)(3) charitable organization, which is entirely non-political and non-religious. Because everyone freely contributes their time and talents, 100% of all donations are used to fund our benevolent works. As you peruse these pages, it is our hope that you will connect with us, be moved to contribute, and plan to visit us again so that together we will continue to grow, ensuring Phi Lambda Charitable Trust’s commitment of improving the lives of the many people we serve.
Former President of the Board
PLCT 2020 Report
I am honored and humbled to have been asked to spearhead Phi Lambda Charitable Trust following in the path set by Br. Donald Chu and his Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. The activities and financial growth over the last 15 years of his presidency has provided a firm foundation for the future. Br. Donald, Br. Gordon Cheng, and the many past trustees, advisers, and project sponsors are to be commended.
As I summarized at the 2020 Virtual Convention, I was tasked with looking at ways to strengthening the Trust. These included improving its structure by facilitating an increased number of involved trustees and advisers, developing a process for evaluation and vetting of projects, and maximizing financial stability and transparency. After canvassing subchapter managers and past trustees, a new board was elected that reflected geographical, professional, and demographic diversity. Of the 12 trustees: one-third (4) are sisters; 11 are new to the board within the last 3 years; the age range spans 5 decades; 7 out of 13 active subchapters are represented split evenly between East and West coast; and fields of expertise include medicine, science, business, law, real estate, and finance. We are all volunteers dedicated to the success of the Charitable Trust.
Once the new board was formed, discussion began regarding the by-laws. Proposals for changes and additions were agreed to. Important modification included:
- Adding a category of purpose to promote the positive image of Chinese people. This is a general category to cover activities and projects not directly related to health, education, and alleviating poverty that might help counter the negative image and frank racism that the Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed and which has persisted against Chinese-Americans and immigrants for decades.
- Increase the trustee term from one to two years to allow opportunity for each trustee to fully understand the function of the Trust and to become more engaged.
- Provide that each subchapter nominate at least one member for an advisory role. The goal is to involve more members in the workings of the Trust and to establish a direct line of communication to the subchapters both for transparency but also to advise within subcommittees, assist with fund-raising, and facilitate project proposals from local subchapters.
- Increasing the fund-raising mandate to include annual goal-setting and strategies to increase the number of donors.
- Provide financial transparency and specific goals with annual budget for grants.
- Adding a task for the Grants Committee to develop standardized project proposal guidelines containing pertinent information about projects or organization that will help vet proposals.
- Establish a timetable of project proposal evaluation where proposals will be submitted by a deadline and reviewed for approval by the Board on a biannual basis.
- Provide the President and Executive Committee the opportunity and responsibility to set goals, principle, and specific missions of the Trust at the beginning of each year. This will help direct the Trust activities and provide guidelines by which trustees can evaluate or promote certain projects. These currently include focusing more on domestic projects without abandoning overseas projects and prioritizing self-sustaining, or even self-propagating, projects and those involving the younger generation.
While the finances of the Trust are solid, it is clear that donations in the past have been concentrated within a few loyal top donors. Over the past five years, over eighty percent of the donations have come from only thirteen donors and last year, eighty percent of donation came from just five donors. It is clear that the donor base must be increased and the average amount need to be increased in order for funds to continue to be available for grants. With this view toward long-term sustainability, the Board has voted to explore the possibility of establishing an endowment fund which will help smooth the future availability of revenue for grants.
It is equally clear that available funding and worthwhile projects fit hand-in-hand. Without adequate funds, projects and Trust activity will be minimal. Without worthwhile projects and activity, fund raising will be difficult. It is crucial that the Trust be mindful and strong in fund-raising and equally mindful and strong in encouraging and discovering good projects that fulfill the Trust’s mission.
To that end, I and the Board of Trustees invite all PL members to seriously consider donations, either one-time, annually, or pledges, to think about worthwhile projects predominately domestically, and to consider active involvement as an adviser representing your subchapter. It is the fervent belief of many Trustees and PL members that PLCT is crucial to the survival of PLUS. It is the hidden jewel of the organization. By strengthening the charitable activities, PL will become more attractive to prospective new members. Ethnocentric social bonds among younger Chinese people are not necessary enough in a heterogeneous American society as they were in 1919. They will look for more meaning and purpose to life activities and PLCT can provide that.
Thank you and help me help PLCT succeed! Feel free to contact me or any trustee below to see how you can become involved or to answer any of your questions. Each of the subcommittees have already been hard at work via virtual meetings to prepare for the path forward in the New Year.
Br. Robin T.W. Yuan