Oxfam GB sets up a branch in South Korea

The charity opened an office in the capital, Seoul, last September as part of its strategy to build a presence in new markets

Oxfam street fundraising in South Korea
Oxfam street fundraising in South Korea

Oxfam GB has set up a branch in South Korea, its first home-grown fundraising and campaigning base overseas.

Tim Hunter, director of fundraising at Oxfam, told Third Sector that the charity opened an office in the South Korean capital of Seoul in September as part of its strategy to build a presence in new markets.

He said that the charity needed to look at ways of innovating to attract customers in new markets, given the falling support for overseas aid charities among UK donors.

Oxfam GB already has affiliate organisations in 14 countries, but this is the first time the charity has created a branch overseas that will raise money for the programmes implemented by the UK arm.

Hunter said that the branch had been registered locally as a charity and was being managed by an executive director, Kyung Young, who joined from the South Korean branch of the child sponsorship NGO Compassion International and has a team of five locally recruited staff.

Hunter said the charity conducted analysis on a number of countries but chose South Korea for its first expansion of this kind because of the "massive" growth in the nation’s charity sector, as evidenced by the success of World Vision and Unicef there in recent years. "Because of the Korean War, they have a stronger sense of giving back to the rest of the world than anywhere else," said Hunter.

He said the branch would come under Oxfam’s overall fundraising budget and that it began fundraising last October, recruiting donors on the streets.

It will this month host a fundraising telethon featuring various South Korean celebrities, he said. Compared with its UK counterpart, Hunter said, the South Korean arm would place more emphasis on digital fundraising and less on direct mail.

He said the branch had signed up 15,000 regular givers and raised tens of thousands of pounds, which was line with Oxfam GB’s expectations at this stage.

He said the charity would not run programmes in South Korea itself, but that it would do campaigning and advocacy with the aim of influencing the South Korean government and international policymakers.

Hunter said that Oxfam’s accounts for the year ending March 2015 – due to be released towards the end of this year – will show an increase in the charity’s income from the £389m raised the previous year. He said the latest accounts would show the charity met its net income target but did not meet its gross income target.

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