A business student with a flair for philanthropy
Arthur Chan, Founder, D2D Destiny Foundation and Young Ambassador Program (YAP)
Arthur Chan's dedication towards philanthropy is relentless. The UBC Sauder Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) student has achieved extraordinary success in his charitable endeavours, both in terms of the funds he’s raised and the thousands of lives he’s touched.
For Chan, serving the community has always been a way of life. In 2010, at the age of 14, he and a group of friends launched the Young Ambassador Program (YAP) to raise funds and awareness for BC Children’s Hospital.
In 2015, while studying business and entrepreneurship at UBC Sauder, he founded a not-for-profit organization called D2D Destiny Foundation. He and his fellow volunteers began raising money for humanitarian causes through different grassroots initiatives, including their e-philanthropy store. In this online space, gently used fashion and homeware goods are sold to consumers and 80 percent of the proceeds go to D2D’s partner charities.
This initiative, along with the hundreds of others that Chan and his fellow volunteers have led over the years, have yielded financial results that would make any entrepreneur proud. In 2018, D2D was awarded the prestigious ‘Outstanding Youth Philanthropist Award’ from the Vancouver chapter of The Association of Fundraising Professionals for raising over $1 million for BC Children’s Hospital through a seven-year campaign.
Pictured in 2018: Arthur Chan and the D2D Foundation team were honoured with the 2018 Outstanding Youth Philanthropist award.
On a personal mission
Chan’s motivation for dedicating so much time and energy to philanthropy can be traced back to childhood. At the age of three, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. On the frontlines helping him and his family get through this medical challenge was the remarkable staff at BC Children’s Hospital, who treated him for four years.
"Going through that life and death situation, and knowing how much work the doctors and nurses put in to save my life — it really inspires me to give back to that community,” says Chan. “I want to play my part in making sure that children and youth in our community get an equal opportunity to succeed.”
Pictured in 2018: Arthur Chan (centre) and his foundation have been supporting BC Children’s Hospital for a decade. Some of the funds raised were used to purchase a functional electrical stimulation walking aid – an orthotic brace that helps children and adolescents living with cerebral palsy.
Discovering new fundraising frontiers
Fast-forward to spring 2020 and Chan and several members of YAP, including his cousin and fellow UBC Sauder BCom student Natalie Chan, were planning an event to celebrate YAP’s 10th anniversary. They had big plans — a high tea ceremony and other events to mark a decade of fundraising together. But the arrival of COVID-19 threw a wrench in their plans.
"We took it as an opportunity to sit down and reflect as a team — to think of more innovative ways to fundraise,” recalls Chan. “Because of COVID-19, we had this opportunity to explore different channels of fundraising."
Across the globe, in-person events were being cancelled due to the surging pandemic, but at the same time, virtual events and performances were driving people to new online platforms. Inspired by this phenomenon, Chan and his team decided to produce a virtual music concert fundraiser.
Demonstrating sales and marketing savvy
The youth performers submitted videotaped performances, while an emcee introduced the performances in real-time to a livestream audience on YouTube.
Leveraging their business acumen, Arthur, Natalie and the rest of the team lined up a roster of A-list youth celebrities. They approached performers of America's Got Talent fame and five of them agreed to participate. Emboldened by their success, they asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if he would provide a videotaped message. He agreed, recording a heartfelt thank you to kick off the show.
"It was a really big highlight and an honour for our team that we got a greeting and a shout-out from Prime Minister Trudeau," recalls Chan.
The Youth in Motion Charity Online Concert presented nine musical performances, interspersed with stories of young patients who were put on a road to recovery thanks to the incredible care they received at BC Children’s Hospital. Online links to silent auctions and donations flashed below the screen throughout the event. Over 3,000 people tuned in to watch the show and the YouTube video has had over 12,600 views to date.
Out of the nine musicians who performed at the charity concert, five previously appeared on America's Got Talent and received the coveted ‘golden buzzer’.
“All of the performers came together with the same goal in mind — to support a good cause and make a difference in our community through music,” says Chan.
And make a difference they did. The concert raised over $116,000; funds that pushed the Young Ambassador Program’s fundraising tally to over $2 million for BC Children's Hospital.
A leader among peers
Natalie Chan and Arthur Chan, who are cousins and fellow BCom students, celebrate 10 years of being ‘Young Ambassadors’ for BC Children’s Hospital.
Chan has set an inspiring example for fellow business students, applying his education to make the world a better place. Now in his final semester of school, his future plans include expanding the scope of D2D. He has dreams of creating the “Amazon” of charity through the foundation’s e-philanthropy store.
“Social entrepreneurship is an idea that has been embedded in me through the many entrepreneurship courses I’ve taken at school. Being able to achieve profits while allocating a portion towards making a difference is the best of both worlds,” says Chan.
“There’s so much more to learn and achieve. What drives me every day is the fact that there are no limits on what you can achieve in terms of helping your community. I feel my journey has only just begun.”