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How I delivered 4000 lb supplies to hospitals in China in 2 weeks

This is a race against time.

Coronavirus broke out in China. Guangdong province now has the second largest amount of confirmed cases.

On Super Bowl Sunday, while being excited about the first ever female coach in Super Bowl history, I was also relieved seeing our 60000+ medical-grade face masks landed in Guangzhou, China, and were about to be delivered to two hospitals directly the next day.

On Oscar Sunday, I wrapped up sorting almost 130000 items in 500 boxes over the phone with Guangzhou Customs and the local logistics partner online, had a long breath out, and won the bet on if Parasite would bring Best Picture award home.

These two batches of medical supplies were donations for 4 of the affiliated hospitals of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou and Zhuhai City, Guangdong province, China. When I first heard the news on Jan 25th, that all Sun Yat-sen University's affiliated hospitals were running out of supplies due to the Coronavirus situation, I gathered the leadership of Sun Yat-sen University Alumni Association (America East) and SYSU Medical School Alumni (America East) immediately, and started working on the donation project jointly.

8 people, 14 days, $60k+ donation from 240+ donors, 4000+ pounds supplies direct delivered from NYC to hospitals in Guangzhou. First oversea alumni association that delivered donations via official charity process to Guangzhou.

How did we make it happen with such limited resources?

First of all, I got a squad team of volunteers, who deeply care about the initiative, eager to get things done, and can utilize their key strength.

With the team of 8, I got:

  • 2 doctors, responsible for medical supply validation and making purchases;

  • 2 well-connected seniors on hospital relationship management;

  • 1 writer on news release, updating every step to the public and informing all our donors;

  • 1 on local transportation;

  • 1 on finance;

  • Me on donation certification and logistics paperwork besides overseeing everything above.

With a determined and passionate team like this, I am not surprised that we were the first group making oversea charity donations to hospitals in Guangzhou and the most effective group by far.

Besides having a great team, here are the other three important key factors in such a relay race:

  • Pay attention to critical details. Allow zero errors in operation;

  • Orchestrate all parties. Waste no time;

  • Communication, communication, communication.

How does everything work to donate to hospitals in China?

While we shared our progress of the charity donation project to the public, many people have reached out and ask about how it worked and how to get their logistics work.

Assuming following 100% of the law as well as all the required charity donation procedures from Chinese government and Guangdong Charity Federation, here is the ultimate workflow:

There are 2 flows as shown above. The document flow determines if a charity donation can be made legally. Required paperwork that you must pay attention and prepare for includes:

  • Doc#1: International Donation Letter by you or your organization.

  • Doc#2: Charity Federation Acceptance Letter for International Donation.

  • Doc#3: Packing List and Invoice.

  • Doc#4: Hospital Acceptance Letter for International Donation.

Assuming the goal is to deliver qualified medical supplies to the hospitals asap, here is the ideal project execution plan.

If you want to be an expert, here is all you need to know for the maximum operation efficiency, a step-by-step detailed manual <link> of the above "task map". TL;DR: there are the four milestones to keep in mind in order to make a fast and effective donation to the hospitals:

  • Make the right orders

  • Confirm the date of transporting donated items to the airline’s logistics partner and book the flight

  • Acceptance Letter of International Donation (Doc#2) stamped

  • Email all required docs to the hospital’s logistics partner

With so many parties involved in a charity donation, everything must be orchestrated well so that qualified medical supplies can get to the hospitals within the shortest amount of time. During this process, every step forward requires a tremendous amount of effort. When we have to race against time, we must facilitate precise coordination to avoid blockages and compliance risks.

I've also met many people who felt it’s mission impossible to get the charity documents done, or have zero confidence on delivering everything directly to the hospitals.

Yes, it's been quite a ride. But me and my team have been able to keep a can-do attitude since day one. And we made it. And we made it again. I am very proud of my team as well as our almost perfect execution.

As I finalize this article, our third batch of medical supplies had arrived at the hospitals in Guangzhou. Another win for team! And our operation continues.

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