Stories Of Impact
Championing inclusive employment for youths with special needs
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

Championing inclusive employment for youths with special needs

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For more than 10 years, CFS donors have supported the Metta Welfare Association and its trailblazing Metta Café through the Work Readiness Programme, which equips youths with special needs with the vocational and soft skills they need for the workplace. CFS is commemorating 15 years of giving and this story is one of a three-part series that highlights the strong relationships CFS has fostered with charities over the years.

I am grateful to my trainers for guiding me along patiently. I’ve learnt many things here and I hope to become a baker one day.

Toh Ming Yi hopes to become a baker one day. The 26-year-old is an apprentice at Metta Café. Under the guidance of patient teachers, he is learning to make cookies, muffins and other baked goods. He is also picking up valuable and complementary life skills like managing money and communicating with customers, which will help him in the working world. 

Like the other Metta School graduates with mild intellectual disability and/or autism who work at this inclusive café, cheerful Ming Yi has the right support to help make his dreams come true.

Building a long and fulfilling relationship

Metta Café is part of Metta Welfare Association (MWA), a charity set up in 1992 which has uplifted countless lives of those with special needs. The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) has had a long and valuable relationship with MWA since 2011. To date, CFS donors have generously contributed over $736,000 to MWA and have been a pillar of support for Metta Café’s Work Readiness Programme.  

CFS’ continued support has enabled us to continue empowering more individuals in need. Besides equipping our youths with life skills that will better facilitate their integration into society, we were also able to fund programmes that develop social and communication skills to increase their employment opportunities.

Felicia Wee, Deputy Executive Director

Creating employment opportunities through the Work Readiness Programme

The Work Readiness Programme provides apprenticeship opportunities, on-the-job training, job attachments, life-skills training, internship training and open employment to young adults with special needs to prepare them to contribute to the workforce. 

Initially offered solely to Metta School graduates, the programme has delivered such positive outcomes that students with special educational needs from other institutes such as the Institution of Higher Learning and the Institute of Technical Education also seek out internships at Metta Café. 

In 2020, the café became a WSQ In-house Approved Organisation to conduct the Food Safety Level 1 certification. This enables a wider range of participants to upgrade their skills, creating greater inclusiveness and opportunities for them in society. 

Metta Café’s Work Readiness Programme resonates with CFS as it is designed to improve employability, one of our key focal areas for grant making. We look for causes that empower marginalised job seekers to become contributing members of society. This can be through education, exposure to career pathways or advocating for more inclusivity.

CFS has been giving out grants to the programme since it began in 2016 and this enduring support has enabled Metta Café to increase its apprenticeship numbers.

“We value CFS as our long-term partner,” says Felicia Wee, Deputy Executive Director of MWA. “Their donors’ contributions to MWA have been significant. With their collective support, we have been able to help more youths with special needs maximise their potential.”

Encouraging long-term support through legacy giving

More recently, CFS and Metta have been working closely to encourage more legacy giving. Legacy gifts are planned future gifts such as bequests of assets or memorial funds, which offer a more sustainable and reliable source of fundraising for charities. It also opens up ways for donors to create an impact well beyond their lifetime.

With guidance from CFS, Metta has been actively engaging donors on its long-term plans and accepting all forms of legacy gifts including CPF and insurance nominations.

We are proud to maintain a long-term relationship with Metta and are committed to working with other like-minded charities to bring greater impact to youth with special needs under the CFS cause Improving Employability.

CFS is celebrating our anniversary throughout 2023—15 years of empowering donors to make a meaningful impact. Since our inception in 2008, we have received over S$292 million in donations in Singapore and disbursed over S$157 million in grants to over 400 charity partners.  

To discover how you can make a difference, please visit www.cf.org.sg/contact-us/get-in-touch/. 

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Stories Of Impact

#MyGivingJourney X Jenny Wah: Transforming customer experiences to reignite growth

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#MyGivingJourney is a series by CFS where we feature extraordinary women in Singapore and their efforts in philanthropy. In our last feature, we have one of our own – Jenny Wah, CFS’s Director of Marketing & Communications.

Jenny Wah chalked up over 20 years of marketing experience at several MNC companies. She started in Key Account/Brand Marketing in the FMCG industry with brands such as Coca-Cola & Pokka. Then she spent the bulk of her marketing career in the IT industry with Adobe and Autodesk. She led global teams and worked with diverse clients all over the map. The demands were dizzying, as were her frequent flyer miles.  

It was a career that rewarded on many fronts. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leaving many businesses and employees reeling. The pandemic was called a ‘great equaliser’; however, COVID-19 also revealed glaring inequalities in societies. For her, this was a period of introspection that led to a flash of insight and courage.  Jenny recalls: “I found myself wondering, what could I do that can contribute to a more equal society?”  

So when the opportunity to join the Community Foundation of Singapore came along, she decided to take up the role of Marketing and Strategic Communication Director.   

Equality of opportunity and social mobility have long shaped Jenny’s outlook towards a purposeful life. One of three children of a mechanic and a housewife, she understands the struggles of many lower-income families.  

Growing up, Chinese New Year was a particularly poignant time. For her, it was a window into how altruism can uplift lives: each year, the Chinese clans would give out bursaries to help students in need, as well as items like school books, shoes and uniforms. Jenny was one such beneficiary. 

Education was Jenny’s springboard to a better future. Armed with a B. Business (Honours) degree from NTU and later an MBA, she embarked on a career in sales and marketing, garnering a reputation for her can-do spirit and creative solutions. She often spearheaded her firms’ corporate social responsibility efforts as well, which she found fulfilling. Four years ago, she started volunteering as a museum host at the National Museum of Singapore, feeding her passion for culture and history. 

Crossing over to a nonprofit meant new challenges. Budgets were smaller and there weren’t as many hands on deck. Jenny learnt to work around this by tapping into her network for pro bono services and negotiating goodwill with vendors. She also had to build a team from scratch.  

However, all this was made easier by the warmth and commitment of the people she worked with. “Everyone double or triple hats and works together for the collective and greater good, never losing sight of the big picture” she notes. Most importantly, she adds, “I see my work here initiating positive change and making a difference.”  

Jenny believes that technology can deliver an impactful customer journey in a consistent, personalized and scalable fashion through transformative concepts such as marketing automation, nurturing through compelling content and relationship marketing. 

“For me ‘Customer Experience’ is not marketing fluff, it’s a work ideology that needs to be at the core of everything we do professionally. I believe that both ‘People’ and the ‘Promises’ we make are at the very heart of CFS’s Brand. I am proud to work in CFS which offers the unique opportunity to be a part of something that will profoundly impact society,” she says. 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more about the #MyGivingJourney series here. 

This article was written by Sunita Sue Leng, a former financial analyst and journalist, who believes that the written word can be a force for good. She hopes to someday write something worth plagiarising. 

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News

Donor-advised funds can make a meaningful impact in Asia

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Such funds give donors more say in the philanthropic process, and can lead to donors being tipped off about underfunded causes. These funds also make it possible for non-millionaires to do their bit.

WHAT do Jack Dorsey, Larry Page, Elon Musk, Jack Ma and Mark Zuckerberg have in common in terms of their charitable giving?

All of them have used donor-advised funds (DAFs) in short. DAFs are popular in the United States, with over US$140 billion sitting in these accounts. In Asia, DAFs are relatively new with only Singapore, China, South Korea and Japan setting them up.

What exactly is it? In a DAF, the donor transfers money or other assets to another entity called the sponsoring organisation. While the sponsor legally owns the assets, the donor is given a huge say in determining when the fund is disbursed and causes to support, hence the name “donor-advised funds”. Typically, the sponsoring organisation will provide advisory services to the donor on how to effectively utilise the funds.

At this juncture, a reader may ask what is the difference between a DAF and an organisation like the Community Chest in Singapore, which raises funds for multiple charities?

The major distinction is the role of the donor in the DAF, as compared to the donor making an outright contribution to charity. In a DAF, the donor is an active participant, working in collaboration with the sponsoring organisation, in disbursing funds.

Let us say, we have a philanthropist who wants to make a S$1 million contribution to educational causes. While S$1 million is certainly a lot of money, it is insufficient to set up a private foundation due to the administrative costs involved. A donor who uses a DAF may direct the funds to support worthwhile causes in education, while being properly advised.

In many cases, the donor is a wealthy person who may not be familiar with what is happening on the ground. Therefore, the sponsoring organisation adds value by providing advisory services.

In this example, the sponsoring organisation may, after doing due diligence, recommend that the donor disburse funds to underfunded causes like pre-school, technical and special-needs education.

DAFs can also function as an emergency fund for a “rainy day”. For instance, there could be an emergency societal need like children living under Covid-19 lockdown conditions, who are now deprived of sponsored school lunches. Money from DAFs could then be channelled to fund food vouchers for their families during home-based learning.

In fact, this was the cause championed by The Recess@Home programme spearheaded by the Community Foundation of Singapore, a DAF.

BENEFITS OF DONOR-ADVISED FUNDS

A DAF is attractive to donors because of the many benefits it offers.

First, the DAF gives the donor a greater role in the philanthropic process. This sense of satisfaction that the donors get may encourage them to give more to charities in future and set up a private foundation. In fact, in setting up the first DAF in Singapore in 2008, then Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Vivian Balakrishnan, described it as a “starter kit for foundations”.

Second, the donor is supported by DAF sponsors, who are intimately aware of the needs of the community. Therefore, the funds can support the causes that are desperately in need.

Third, the DAF, if properly used, may achieve maximum impact by making contributions to underfunded areas. Fourth, the donation to a DAF need not be a cash gift, but may take the form of company shares or other non-cash assets. Finally, some countries provide requisite tax breaks to donations to DAFs.

The biggest advantage of the DAF is democratisation of philanthropy from the ultra-high net worth families to individuals who have a modest sum to donate. A heart-warming example is the story of the late Kim Gun-Ja, who set up a fund with the Beautiful Foundation, a South Korean DAF. Ms Kim, a sex slave under Japanese rule, donated all her assets save for funeral costs to set up the Grandmother Kim Gun-Ja Fund to support college tuition for orphans. In Singapore, a DAF may be set up with a minimum sum of S$200,000.

Recently, DAFs have come under trenchant criticism in the United States; some quarters have called it a form of “zombie” philanthropy. The main critique is that donors enjoy tax breaks while disbursing too little to charities. Some have called for a law that mandates the DAF to pay out a certain percentage annually. While this criticism of DAFs is legitimate in the United States, it may not apply to DAFs in Asia, where tax breaks are not the primary motivations behind philanthropic giving.

DAFS IN SINGAPORE

There is anecdotal evidence, at least in Singapore, that the level of disbursements to charities is quite high. For example, the two DAFs in Singapore, the Community Foundation of Singapore and SymAsia Foundation Limited, show a high payout rate to charities. The Community Foundation of Singapore has collected S$192 million and disbursed S$114 million in grants. SymAsia Foundation Limited stated in its 2020 annual report that it collected S$170 million and disbursed S$120 million. In fact, donors are conscious that they ought to disburse more to charities.

RISING PAYOUTS DURING THE PANDEMIC

There is currently a campaign in the United States called #HalfMyDAF, where donors are committing to granting half of the money sitting in their DAFs to charities. During this pandemic, there are reports in the United States that payouts from DAFs to charities have indeed been higher, even as critics push for the payouts to be even more accelerated. In contrast to the cautious and structured giving inherent in DAFs, there is McKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, who upended the philanthropic world by donating US$6 billion in 2020.

With proper governance, DAFs yield a net-positive over the Asian philanthropic space, compared to an informal channel of giving that relies on one’s family and business contacts. A DAF provides a structured and cost-efficient vehicle that democratises philanthropy and identifies societal needs that are underfunded. It is hoped that there would be more properly governed Asian DAFs set up, with high payout rates to charities to tackle difficult domestic and pressing transnational problems of our time, like climate change.

To find out about donor-advised funds, read more about it here.

This article is written by Professor Tang Hang Wu, CFS Board Committee Member and a professor of Law at the Yong Pung How School of Law, Singapore Management University.

This translated article was originally published by The Business Times.  

Credit: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.  

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News

COVID-19: Community Foundation of Singapore commits up to S$300,000 to extend student meal subsidies during circuit breaker

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School children walking on the pavement.

SINGAPORE: The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) has committed up to S$300,000 in funding to extend the Recess@Home programme until the end of the “circuit breaker” on Jun 1, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Thursday (May 14).

Speaking after the association’s annual general meeting at Kallang Netball Centre on Friday, Liang-Lin, a fund manager for a US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) firm focused on green real estate investments in Asia, hopes to bring her expertise to the table and increase the amount of financial support for Singapore netball during her four-year term.

The 53-year-old took over from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jessica Tan, who has been the association’s president since 2012. Tan had reached the end of her tenure, which saw the national team make several breakthroughs, including a gold medal at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Liang-Lin holds various appointments such as being Singapore’s representative to the G20 for Women appointed by the Ministry of Finance. She is also a board member of the Community Foundation of Singapore, which promotes philanthropy through facilitating the establishment of charitable funds.

She said: “One of the things that is overlooked when we look at philanthropy and fundraising is that sport is not really part of the things that people will automatically think about.

“Less than one per cent of the funds that we raise in the Community Foundation goes to sport. The values that sport brings need to be amplified more, so that corporates… see the need to support sport. I think that link needs to be stronger so that we get not just more corporate sponsors, but also they can come in for longer periods of time.”

While national agency Sport Singapore provides funding to netball, corporates can also do their part, she added.

She said: “If we play our cards correctly, we can get corporates to come in and hopefully support them, to see the wider purpose of sport and bring the nation together.”

She also hopes the association can be proactive in looking for financial support, adding: “We must work more strategically with governing bodies on educating corporates on the importance of really supporting sport.”

The former netball player also made references to the recent Women’s World Cup for football, noting the “ability for a game that focuses on women in the sport to bring global attention”.

She said: “I want that kind of trajectory of the limelight going to women’s sport. I think that is a trend that will continue, and I hope that netball will be part of that trend.”

Meanwhile, Tan was satisfied that she has achieved the three objectives she had set out to do when she came on board – to improve quality of play, build a fan base and create an ecosystem which involves coaches and players.

The 57-year-old added: “As much as I do feel sad about having to step down, but at the same time, leadership renewal is very important.

“I think Trina will help to galvanise the team together, and bring a lot of new perspectives and quality to the association.”

Join us in making an impact on Singapore sports scene! Reach out to us for more information.

Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Opinion

Speech by Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth at CFS’s 10th anniversary celebrations: Working together to build a caring Singapore

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Grace Fu delivering speech at podium to audience.

Mr Laurence Lien, Chairman, Community Foundation of Singapore
Ms Catherine Loh, CEO, Community Foundation of Singapore
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed my great pleasure to be here today. First, I would like to congratulate the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) on its 10th anniversary. Throughout the past decade, CFS has done excellent work in raising funds and giving out grants, as well as in inspiring and enabling giving in Singapore. This is in no small part due to the generosity and hard work of staff, donors and partners. I’d like to express my gratitude and to commend all of you for your contributions. CFS was first started during the tumultuous period after the global financial crisis, and conversations about donations must have been difficult. Nevertheless, under the stewardship of Laurence, Catherine and Stanley, CFS has really grown over the years. Once again, thank you so much!

Philanthropy has played an important role in Singapore’s history
Philanthropy has always played an important role in the history and development of Singapore. In fact, records of philanthropy in Singapore go back to as early as the 1800s when immigrants came to this country in search of opportunities. Notable philanthropists such as Lim Nee Soon, Tan Kah Kee, Syed Mohamed Alsagoff and Govindasamy Pillai have responded to the needs of their times. These are early pioneers who have very selflessly and generously helped their communities. They helped to build up Singapore in the pre-war years, rebuild it in the post-war years, and worked alongside the government to develop our infrastructure after independence.

Today, it is just as crucial to build a culture of care and contribution. We live in an increasingly complex and dynamic environment. In many developed countries, socio-economic challenges have bred distrust and grown uncertainty. Terrorism continues to be a global threat. Within our region, exclusivist trends are rising, and societies are becoming increasingly polarised. At the same time, technology is disrupting nearly everything, from industries and jobs, to the way we live, to the way we do business and interact with one another, to our social hierarchy. Singapore is not immune to such threats and challenges, especially when we are so diverse as a people. So when we care and look out for one another, when we have that relationship that is beyond the transactional but instead comes from within the heart and is genuine, we will be better equipped to stand together in times of crisis.

Government support for philanthropy
There is already a strong support infrastructure for philanthropy to thrive. The Government gives tax deductions for donations to charities. There are matched-funding initiatives that have spurred more giving by individuals and corporates; for example, MCCY’s Cultural Matching Fund which supports giving to arts and culture, and the One Team Singapore Fund, which supports high performance sport.

The Government is also committed to developing a well-governed and thriving charity sector, with strong public support. In January this year, the Parliament passed the Charities (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to strengthen governance of fund-raising in response to trends in charitable giving.

As Singapore’s only community foundation, CFS plays an important role as a bridge between local communities and the larger charitable ecosystem. Beyond just encouraging cheque-book donations, CFS has connected donors with organisations that support their cause. For example, 71-year-old Mr Govind Bommi felt an affinity for the eldercare sector. Through CFS, he was connected with Metta Day Rehabilitation Centre, which provides rehabilitative care for elderly beneficiaries from all races and backgrounds. He then set up a fund to support the Centre, and continues to volunteer there today.

Closing gap between aspiration and participation
But there is more we can do for Singapore to be a more caring society. The Individual Giving Survey conducted by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) showed that although the total donation amount to organisations has grown over the years, the overall rate of donation* has declined, with 3 in 4 donating in 2016, compared to 9 in 10 a decade ago. However, among the non-donors, 1 in 3 said they are likely to donate in future. Similarly, in the volunteering space, there is high propensity among non-volunteers to volunteer in future.

We want to close this gap between aspiration and participation, and unite Singaporeans through a common culture of care. This is the basis for SG Cares, a national movement for us to better support one another in making Singapore a caring society through giving, through volunteering, and through acts of kindness. By bringing together partners across the people and private sectors, SG Cares enables the building of capabilities across organisations to grow opportunities for contribution. SG Cares also better equips individuals and organisations who want to give back, and connects them with suitable opportunities to do so. So it’s very much an encouragement and a call to action. But more importantly, it’s about building the infrastructure, platforms, connections and capabilities within the sector.

The work at CFS contributes to SG Cares, because an impactful philanthropy landscape is a hallmark of a caring society, where those with resources give back effectively to help those in need. Collaboration is the way to go, and donors today are taking more initiative, and seeking more meaningful engagement opportunities. CFS is well positioned to seize these opportunities and provide the platforms. For example, the Colabs series by CFS and NVPC brings together givers, non-profits and sector experts to build insights and co-create solutions together. This not only encourages more collective efforts that deliver impact, but also deepens the knowledge base to guide donors to areas of needs. It also improves the design of programmes and how volunteers are involved, to better serve the community.

Caring involves all of us
The making of a caring Singapore involves and requires all of us – the government, non-profit sector, businesses and individuals – to work together to find solutions and demonstrate care and compassion for our community. With this shared sense of responsibility, we stand a better chance in riding out the waves of global uncertainty and disruption. By caring for one another, we foster resilient communities that stand together in both good and bad times.

To conclude, I would like to leave you with the words of Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Once again, congratulations to CFS on your 10th anniversary! And once again, thank you for your contributions and I hope you will continue to inspire others with your efforts and actions. I’m sure there will be greater capacity for CFS to grow. Thank you.

Grace Fu
Minister for Community, Culture and Youth

*Through both formal and informal means.

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

Picture of admin bluecube
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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

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