Hong Kong has a long history of housing a foreign population, and there’s a wide range of social, charitable and sporting clubs and organizations to get involved in. Joining one of them is one of the best ways for newbies to meet people here, and everything gets easier once you get to know expats who know the ropes and can help you navigate your new home. If you’re working here, it’s tip-tip networking; if you’re a trailing spouse or living a quieter life, you can just call it socializing. Either way, finding the right groups to join means making friends and having a good time during your stay in the city.
Charities in particular have become more active in the last decade or so, and it seems like barely a weekend passes without a big fundraising event somewhere or other, often a glamorous occasion giving you the chance to break out the black tie or cocktail dress; for parents of young children there’s also a thriving family-oriented community. See what suits you from the listings below, but be aware there’s a lot more out there. HK Magazine and Time Out Hong Kong both in print and online regularly run articles about community organizations as well as listings, and you should also have a look at AsiaXPAT for ideas, or online communities such as GeoExpat.
Social and Family Groups
American Women’s Association
A long-established Hong Kong institution, this organization (which is open to all nationalities) does a great job of helping expats settle in, with specialized activities for newcomers. Volunteer programs, mother-and-child get-togethers and numerous social events make it one of the most energetic and visible foreign communities (there are over 700 members) in the city.
Monticello C-7, 48 Kennedy Rd, Mid-Levels
Australian Association of Hong Kong
There’s a strong Australian presence in Hong Kong, and this club brings them together for social events, many of them for the whole family. They’re quite sporty, with hikes and picnics high on the agenda, and welcome anyone with a positive attitude.
Unit 8, 8/F Kuo Wah Building, 340-342 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai
Ladies Recreation Club
An extremely active club with an incredible array of social and sporting activities ranging from ballroom dancing and flower arranging to tennis and muay Thai; there’s plenty here for both adults and children.
10 Old Peak Rd, Mid-Levels
American Community Theater
Non-profit group that produces three shows a year and aims to both have fun and do high-quality work.
Business and Networking Groups
Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce
Hong Kong’s most esteemed and largest business organization, with 4,000 members involved in furthering the territory’s economic interests and building bridges with business people from around the world.
22/F United Centre, 95 Queensway, Central
American Chamber of Commerce
Highly influential and probably Hong Kong’s main organization of movers and shakers outside the world of private clubs, the ACC puts together regular events and aims to keep the wheels of business oiled between the US and Hong Kong.
1904 Bank of America Tower, 12 Harcourt Rd, Central
Australian Chamber of Commerce
Highly thought-of networking organization that builds connections between Australia and local business.
4/F Lucky Building, 39 Wellington Street, Central
British Chamber of Commerce
The UK remains an important player in its former colony, and the BCC is a forum for business discussion and generation, as well as organizing a range of social and networking events.
Room 1201, Emperor Group Centre, 288 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
Hands On Hong Kong
A sort of online clearinghouse for people interested in charity, this is an online database matching volunteers to specific organizations and projects. An excellent first port of call.
Level 9, Central Building, 1 Pedder St, Central
Similar to Hands on Hong Kong, this is an online meeting place and virtual community for people looking to get involved in charity work.
The Hong Kong Cancer Fund
This organization supports cancer patients and their families who have trouble dealing with the financial and psychological burden of the disease. Members get involved in hospital support services and work in the community to organize public education campaigns, as well as help raise cancer research funding.
2501 Kinwick Centre, 32 Hollywood Road, Mid-Levels
Children’s Heart Foundation
Founded by parents based on their experience of caring for their own children suffering from congenital heart conditions, CHF encourages volunteers to help them raise money to support families and buy medical equipment, as well as organize recreational and educational activities of various kinds and help parents with overnight accommodation.
5/F, Flat A Government Quarters, 122 Pok Fu Lam Rd, Pok Fu Lam
This foundation aims to make dreams come true for children with serious, life-threatening illnesses. Volunteers are always welcome to help them implement each child’s wish, and companies are usually more than willing to help out, whether financially or through logistics expertise.
25/F Devon House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Rd, Quarry Bay
An impressive charity which provides support and advice for young pregnant girls, to help them deal with parental or social problems they may be facing, as well as practical issues and adoption; they also run a home for the girls to stay in before and after giving birth.
Montgomery Block, 42B Kennedy Rd, Mid-Levels
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Animal welfare is not as advanced in Hong Kong as in the West, but in an Asian context it’s in the vanguard and improving all the time. The SPCA rescues sick, abandoned and injured animals and is involved in re-housing unwanted pets. They’re always looking for people willing to take on animals, as well as volunteers to help take care of animals, take part in public education drives and provide general support.
5 Wan Shing St, Wan Chai
This organization redistributes second-hand goods to people in need both in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland. Volunteers are always welcome, to help fix up items before they’re passed on, raise funds, organize the stock and raise awareness.
Crossroads Village, 2 Castle Peak Rd, Tuen Mun, New Territories
Oxfam Hong Kong
The Hong Kong branch of this global humanitarian agency that leads the fight against poverty and injustice. The focus is both local and international, and they welcome volunteers for fundraising, administrative work and general help.
17/F, China United Centre, 28 Marble Rd, North Point
An active organization that works hard to raise awareness of how to prevent AIDS, as well as help support victims of the disease and get involved in community outreach programs to help dispel prejudice.
17B, Block F, 3 Lok Man Rd, Chai Wan
International organization providing an English-language hotline for people who need someone to talk to about their problems, no matter what. They do great work and always need caring listeners to man the phones. Potential volunteers are vetted and take part in a training course.
Changing Young Lives Foundation
An organization that supports children from poor families to give them educational and social opportunities, as well as raise awareness of children’s welfare issues in the region.
Units 1-14, G/F, Block 10, Pak Tin Estate, Kowloon
Hong Kong Dog Rescue
Dog-lovers may want to volunteer with this charity, which rescues abandoned and unwanted dogs to stop them from being put down in government kennels. They’re always looking for people to walk the dogs, foster them or help find people to take them in.
6 Shek Lin Rd, Tai Po
Friends of the Earth
Environmental group that raises awareness and encourages the push for solutions to pressing environmental issues – highly relevant in the context of an increasingly polluted Hong Kong. Prominent for its programs aiming to find environmentally sustainable public policies and its work with businesses to promote green office practices.
Unit 1301-1302, Block A, Sea View Estate, 2 Watson Rd, North Point
World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong
These pioneers in conservation and environmental education are always looking for volunteers, particularly those with media or office skills, to help get their message out and join in the campaign to keep the natural world natural, both in Hong Kong and the world.
Suite 1002, Asian House, 1 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai