Stories Of Impact
#MyGivingJourney X Jeya Ayadurai: Bringing her people and strategic skills to nonprofits
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

#MyGivingJourney X Jeya Ayadurai: Bringing her people and strategic skills to nonprofits

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CFS is proud to launch our #MyGivingJourney series, which portrays extraordinary women and their efforts in philanthropy as part of celebrating the women of Singapore in the year 2021. Our first story features Jeya Ayadurai, AWWA Board Director & member of CFS’s Finance & HR Committee.  

Giving back is more than just about money, says Jeya Ayadurai. “You can use your skills, you can do some mentoring or you can just spend time reading to kids in a school,” she says. Having blazed a trail in the civil service and corporate world helping organisations and people thrive, Jeya is doing just that – sharing her knowledge, experience and ideas with nonprofits. 

Social service organisations are very good at caring for people, she notes. “But heart and hands have also to be guided by the head. You have to look at developing your talent. You need to strengthen your organisation structures and practices to reach out to even more clients. You need to measure performance and ensure that your leaders are aligned with the company’s strategy,” says Jeya, who has a wealth of experience in senior roles in regional human resources (HR) and strategic change management. As she sees it, welfare organisations have more balls in the air to juggle compared to profit-driven entities.  

The pandemic has thrown even more balls into the mix. COVID-19 has upended how charities raise funds and interact with beneficiaries and volunteers. “With physical contact limited and connections moving online, how do you create stickiness with your donors, staff and volunteers? We need new ways of managing and engaging with them,” she notes. 

Jeya sits on the board of AWWA Ltd, a registered charity that works to empower persons with disabilities, disadvantaged families and vulnerable seniors. She is also chairperson of AWWA’s HR committee. More recently, Jeya joined the Finance & Human Resources committee of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS).  

Where she once worked with private sector CEOs to drive their people strategies and organisational development, she now works with the leadership of AWWA and CFS to develop performance metrics, appraisal structures, compensation packages and people management processes.  

Jeya has volunteered with AWWA for 18 years and she is proud of how AWWA has helped strengthen the social services sector in Singapore. For Jeya, philanthropic work has made her a whole person. A career in the corporate world tends to be driven by bottom-line and measurable outcomes. In community work, when the head, heart and hands come together, clients are empowered to rise above their own limitations and achieve more holistic outcomes. Being humane brings happiness all around, she firmly believes. 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more about #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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Opinion

How much does a Singapore household need for a basic standard of living?

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In a study of household budgets by Dr Ng Kok Hoe (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy), A/P Teo Youyenn (Nanyang Technological University), Dr Neo Yu Wei (National University of Singapore), Dr Ad Maulod (Duke-NUS), Dr Stephanie Chok and Wong Yee Lok (LKYSPP), a basic standard of living means “…more than just, housing, food, and clothing. It is about having opportunities to education, employment, and work-life balance, as well as access to healthcare. It enables a sense of belonging, respect, security, and independence. It also includes choices to participate in social activities, and the freedom to engage in one’s cultural and religious practices.”

To date, a total of two household budget studies were conducted using the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) as a research method for establishing the incomes needed for a basic standard of living in Singapore. In 2019 the study[1] targeted seniors and in 2021 the study[2] extended this work to the needs of households. The results helped to establish a living wage level, a wage that allows people to afford a decent standard of living and embodies the values and principles that the public identifies with across a range of domains.

So, if I have a wish for, for next year and of course beyond…. it is to have a greater conversation around wages and people’s living standards that are based on principles like these – people’s needs, what is decent, what is basic, and what will allow people to not feel excluded from society.

Recognising the importance of research on the needs of households living in poverty, the Community Foundation of Singapore collaborated with the research team to invite 25 leaders from the social service sector to learn about the opportunities and trade-offs in applying MIS in Singapore, as well as to compare income standards in different countries. It was a process to understand about the living standards from ground up experiences which demonstrated what Singaporeans see as necessary and important to thrive while living in Singapore. Without such a process to unpack the lived experiences of individuals and communities, narratives often reinforce the worldview of the dominant and are unable to account for the real habits and practices of ordinary members of society. 

The session with the social leaders was held in August 2022 and it opened up possibilities to incorporate MIS findings to review and enhance the delivery of programmes and services for marginalised communities and families.

This is an interesting discussion – we need more of these sessions for paradigm shifts within the sector itself. Social justice is one of the core principles in social work but what is “just” and is it the same as “fair”? Just or fair to who?

Participant’s reflection

The workshop invited attending social leaders to anticipate how society is changing and ask about the relevance of MIS and how it challenges or contributes to current income policies, assistance schemes, eligibility criteria for assistance and practices to ensure a minimum socially acceptable standard of living. It is also helpful for leaders from different fields to come together and share their assumptions, priorities, and values that may impact their assessment of clients’ needs and support provided.

It inspires me to imagine that when we talk about families no longer being in poverty, it is not just about being earning above a certain income (e.g., poverty line) but being able to achieve a basic standard of living. This has tremendous implications and guidance on how we think about measuring and evaluating the outcomes and impacts of our work.

In the discussions, the participants found it crucial to include multiple stakeholders such as donors and funders who will fund these programmes and dictate expected processes and outcomes. As a follow-up, another session will be facilitated to gain their perspectives and ensure the conversation goes deeper, and generates aligned perspectives.

Through these sessions, we hope to push the boundary of thinking to inspire different stakeholders. Donors can play an important role in encouraging greater giving and I hope the next session will allow even deeper conversations

This article was written by Joyce Teo, an executive director of Centre for Applied Philanthropy. Joyce leads the CAP team and works with donors and non-profit organisations to address the critical gaps in strategic philanthropy in Singapore.

References

[1] 2019 Household Budget Study: What older people need

[2] 2021 Household Budget Study: What people need in Singapore

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News

The New Age Parents: Interview With Leading Foundation Teacher Award Winners Jenny Tan And Chen Yit Toun

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One has been an early childhood educator for over a decade, while the other works with children with special needs. TNAP speaks to two early childhood educators on the biggest misconception people have about their jobs and what inspires them. Read more.

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Stories Of Impact

International Women’s Forum Singapore: Guiding Young Women towards Achieving their Dreams

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A woman joyfully laughs while carrying a backpack and holding a phone in her hand.

Education is a powerful social leveller, and the youngest Nobel Peace laureate in the world Malala Yousafzai will readily attest to that. In fact, it is her life’s mission to make sure young girls and women all over the world are lifted out of poverty through receiving equal access to an education. For women all over the world, Malala is celebrated as a champion of women’s rights and is recognised for her immense achievements in the face of overwhelming adversity.

The International Women’s Forum (IWF) Singapore Education Grant took a feather out of Malala’s hat when it was established in 2014 – to support women of all backgrounds to receive proper education and mentorship.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) supports this ideal through managing the IWF Education Grant, as it makes a difference by providing upward social mobility for young women who possess grit, empathy and a strong determination to excel in their field of study.

Like Malala, the IWF believes in nurturing the next generation of women through providing education and mentorship. Since the Education Grant’s inception in 2014, IWF Singapore has awarded grants to 68 young women from 13 tertiary institutions in Singapore. These young women are usually students between the ages of 17 to 35 who are applying for a diploma or degree to local polytechnics or universities, and are at risk of dropping out of school due to financial constraints.

So far, it has been a humbling experience for the IWF to support such young women from financially-challenged backgrounds in their quest for higher education and to achieve their dreams. Like a proud parent, the IWF marvels at how far they have come in their journey to find passion and confidence in spite of their considerable personal challenges.

Providing a Guiding Hand

However, it is not all about providing good education through financial support. The IWF Education Grant seeks also to equip these young women with life skills and guidance on career choices, in hopes that they will broaden their horizons and become emboldened to soar in their endeavours.

Through collaboration with the Young Women’s Leadership Connection (YWLC), a mentorship programme was formed under the leadership of Mrs Arfat Selvam, Managing Director of law firm Duane Morris and Selvam LLP.

Although IWF Singapore expects that the students they support have reasonable academic results, there is a far greater emphasis on young women with a strong track record of voluntary social contributions and a high degree of social empathy.

Many of these young women have expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the support from the grant towards their tenuous financial circumstances and want to do their best to contribute back to society. At the same time, they harbour hopes to pursue a better future for themselves and to create a lasting impact with the choices they make. Perhaps one day, these young women will be able to rise up and achieve their dreams, just like Malala Yousafzai.

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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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Events

Celebrating the journey home through music

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A group of musicians passionately performing on stage, captivating the audience with their melodious tunes.

In celebration of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, the Community Foundation of Singapore, in collaboration with donor Kris Tan of the Kris Foundation, brought five young Singaporean musicians together in a concert that explores what it means to belong. The concert, which was staged on 26 July 2015 at the Victoria Concert Hall, featured a new work by local composer Phang Kok Jun, specially commissioned for SG50. It also played a selection of compositions by Samuel Barber, Tan Dun and Antonín Dvorák.

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”。

Picture of admin bluecube
admin bluecube

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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