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Retired doctor donates $1m to start new donor-advised fund
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Stories Of Impact

Retired doctor donates $1m to start new donor-advised fund

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two elderly climbing up stairs

Dr Chua, a retired doctor, 80, gave $1 million to start the Bamboo Lotus Fund with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) in July after being inspired by another retiree’s donation of $1 million to start a charitable trust that he did the same thing. 

Describing himself as an “ordinary” general practitioner, and not a “highly paid medical specialist”, Dr Chua said: “I hope (my example) dispels the myth that only prominent individuals or corporate organisations can make significant donations. “To me, $1 million is a significant amount that will get others to notice and start to consider how much they can give too.”

Dr Chua, who has a daughter, said that helping others comes “naturally” to him and his family. Over the years, they have given “small contributions” to charity. But when he turned 80 this year and felt he may not “have many years left”, he decided to help in a more substantial way.

He plans to help disadvantaged women and families, and the arts and heritage through his new fund.

The retired doctor says bamboo, which signifies resilience, is his favourite plant, while lotus is one of the characters of his wife’s Chinese name. Thus, the Bamboo Lotus Fund was born.

It is one of 165 donor-advised funds under the Community Foundation. Donors pledge at least $200,000 to set up a fund. The foundation manages the money, advises donors on the needs in the community and disburses the funds according to their wishes.

CFS chief executive officer Catherine Loh said the number of donor-advised funds started to grow exponentially several years ago. At the start of 2018, there were 110 such funds. The biggest donors have given more than $20 million to set up their funds.

It took 10 years for the CFS to attract $100 million in donations for all the donor-advised funds set up by various individuals or companies. But it took just the past three years for that sum to hit $200 million, Ms Loh said.

The CFS was ranked third in a report on the 10 largest philanthropic foundations here.

Ms Loh said: “Through times of crisis like the pandemic, individuals have become more open and willing to give more sustainably to make their giving more meaningful.”

A growing awareness of the CFS’ track record has also attracted more donors to set up such funds.

They include successful professionals, retirees or individuals who are semi-retired, and companies.

They give to a wide range of causes, with mental health and the environment among those growing in interest, Ms Loh said.

Since its formation in 2008, the CFS has given out $122 million in grants to a variety of needs.

Dr Chua said: “I hope that this will inspire others in my profession or people of my age, to also donate their money before we pass on.”

To find out more about Legacy Giving, visit us at Legacy Giving or contact us here.

This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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Stories Of Impact

Minding the gaps: 10 friends collaborate to take on social issues in Singapore

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10 charities received donations from Mind the Gap 200 (MtG200) fund at the SG Cares “Celebrating our Culture of Care” closing event at Tampines Hub in August 2019.

Widening social inequality, an ageing population, and the threat of climate change – these are the issues that frame our world today. Amidst increasing recognition of these complex issues, a group of ten donors have come together to establish Mind the Gap 200 (MtG 200), a multi-fund project, with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS). Thus far, S$10 million has been raised.

The brainchild of Mr Tow Heng Tan, CEO of Pavilion Capital, MtG 200 is the first ever collective of donor advised funds to address social issues across multiple sectors in Singapore. MtG 200 will provide support to four areas of focus: community, education, healthcare and sustainability.

Since July 2019, MtG 200 has disbursed over $2m to a variety of initiatives that fall under its four focus areas. Close to $1m has been used to fund palliative care training, facilities and other in-patient programmes across charities such as Assisi Hospice and St. Luke’s Hospital. More than half a million will go to resourcing educational programmes across life stages – from early childhood initiatives right up to bursaries at the tertiary level.

During the SG Care’s bicentennial celebrations in August 2019, $200,000 was disbursed to a total of 10 charities, such as Stroke Support Station Ltd, YMCA, Very Special Arts Singapore and Waterways Watch Society. Finally, a further $150,000 has gone to fund training and job coaching to help socially excluded groups secure permanent employment.

The idea of launching a group of donor funds under a common umbrella took root in 2017. Back then, the word ‘divide’ regularly appeared in the news as well as in conversations. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also spoke about social issues at Singapore’s National Day Rally. The idea for the MtG 200 was thus born – with its aim to contribute towards a stronger and more cohesive society that will last another 200 years and beyond. Mr Tow rallied like-minded friends, and through his passionate advocacy, MtG 200 is now spearheaded by ten donor sponsors, many of whom are business professionals.

For Mr David Heng, CEO of ABC World Asia, MtG 200 was an opportunity to balance head and heart. He says, “Sustainability is an issue I think about every day, but more so from the investment angle. The MtG 200 project helps me to cover the non-investment aspect. I hope my friends will see the value in this project and lend their support.”

Others, like Mr Chew Sutat, are already active champions of social causes. As the executive vice president of the Singapore Exchange (SGX), Mr Chew is also chairman of the SGX Bull Charge, SGX’s flagship charity initiative and chairman of mental health charity Caregivers Alliance Limited. Mr Chew, whose focus is on supporting caregivers, says, “By expressing solidarity with those in need, philanthropic giving has helped to alleviate social tensions that inevitably surface over time.”

For Mr Teng Ngiek Lian, MtG 200 complements his personal endowment fund called The Silent Foundation, which focuses on disadvantaged groups. Under the MtG 200 group, he helms the Singapore Unity Fund, aimed at addressing social divides. “One way we can effectively tackle inequality is to help the underprivileged attain upward social mobility, while simultaneously upholding the tenets of meritocracy. MtG 200 is a small step towards supporting the less advantaged, and helping them change their circumstances,” he added.

Mr Tung Chi Fung, CEO of Sheng Ye Capital and donor sponsor of the Knowledge Fund, echoes this sentiment, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. We hope to help disadvantaged young people to bridge the knowledge gap.”

Tapping on CFS’s deep understanding of local issues, the MtG 200 group of funds are targeted at identified gaps. It will help to build capabilities in the sector and provide impactful solutions that can be sustained in the long-term. Take for instance, its Intergenerational Fund, which seeks to tackle social isolation of elders in Singapore through purposeful intergenerational interaction. Over $300,000 has been disbursed to support such programmes by charities Empower Ageing, All Saints Home and Viraya Community Services.

Professor Kua Ee Heok, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the National University of Singapore, champions The Mental Health Fund and has helped to provide charities with limited fund-raising capacity with much needed support as they continue to advocate for mental well-being. The fund will also support mental health and resilience research and services for the young and old alike.

Ultimately, the vision of MtG 200 is to be a timely reminder for all of us to ‘mind the gap’ in our lives and to work with others in making a difference. Mr Tow expresses, “MtG 200 is a collaborative effort. Without the support of like-minded friends, this would not have gotten off the ground. With the support of CFS, together we can create an impact that will be exponentially bigger than what we can ever achieve as individuals.”

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

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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News

Meet Singapore’s newer philanthropic foundations: They give millions, seeking to spark social change

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Lew Chee Beng (left) founded the Lew Foundation in 2015, while Chua Thian Poh and his siblings set up the Chua Foundation in 2015.

Self-made businessman Lew Chee Beng, 73, is giving away a substantial part of his fortune through a foundation. Since he founded the Lew Foundation in 2015, it has donated more than $12 million to charitable causes. Mr Yeo Puay Hin, the foundation’s executive director and Mr Lew’s son-in-law, said of his father-in-law: “He came from humble beginnings, so it’s about gratitude – to give back to society and helping those who are disadvantaged.”

The Lew Foundation was the 16th-largest philanthropic foundation here, giving out $2.8 million in donations in 2019, according to a recent report on the largest foundations here. Mr Lew, who has four children, built his wealth from a range of businesses, such as Soon Huat Goldsmith and pawnshop chain Shing Heng Group. The foundation’s main focus is to help the vulnerable elderly and young people, and it does so through supporting healthcare and social services serving these two groups. For example, it is supporting about five nursing homes, fulfilling Mr Lew’s late mother’s wish of setting up a nursing home.

The Lew Foundation is one of the newer foundations listed in a recent report by Soristic Impact Collective, a consultancy, that shed light on the largest philanthropic foundations here in terms of expenditure. The research found that foundations set up by some of Singapore’s richest men are among the top 10 biggest givers out of the 91 foundations here. The Lee Foundation, founded by the late rubber tycoon Lee Kong Chian in 1952, topped the list, disbursing $52 million in donations in its latest financial year. 

In total, the 91 foundations spent over $264 million in their latest financial year to support a variety of causes, from education and healthcare to people with disabilities and environmental causes. And beyond the big bucks the foundations are giving away, what is noteworthy is that about 40 per cent of the 91 foundations were registered as a charity since 2011, a Straits Times check found.

Soristic’s principal consultant Pauline Tan said the growing number of the very wealthy here and a growing interest in philanthropy are driving the rise in the number of foundations set up in the past decade. There is also a growing ecosystem to support philanthropy, she said.

This includes the Asia Philanthropy Circle, a platform for Asian philanthropists to collaborate and address social problems, and The Majurity Trust, which provides philanthropic advice and grants.

Among those registered as charities in the past decade are corporate foundations, such as Keppel Group’s Keppel Care Foundation and Changi Airport Group’s Changi Foundation. The Keppel Care Foundation was ranked 13th on the Soristic report, while Changi Foundation took the 20th spot.

Then, there are individuals who made good in life who set up foundations in the past decade.

They include the Chua Foundation (29th) and the TL Whang Foundation (57th). Property magnate Chua Thian Poh, founder of Ho Bee Group, and his siblings set up the Chua Foundation in 2015. The TL Whang Foundation, registered as a charity in 2019, was started with donations by Mr Whang Tar Liang and his family. He is the younger of two brothers who built up Lam Soon Group, known for its consumer goods such as the Knife brand cooking oil.

How philanthropy is practised here has changed, with more foundations and donors looking beyond giving out cheques to seeking to create a real impact or bring about social change. Many of them are a lot more invested in the projects they fund, from being involved in the design of the programme to measuring its impact, said those interviewed.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) chief executive Catherine Loh said: “Donors are becoming more focused on strategic philanthropy, as opposed to outright charity. They see their donations as social investments that will bring about social change.”

“As such, they are more willing to provide longer-term support and willing to give a longer time horizon to allow change to occur.”

CFS enables donors who pledge at least $200,000 to set up a donor-advised fund. It manages the money, advises donors on the needs in the community and disburses the funds according to their wishes.

At the Quantedge Foundation, set up in 2015, its three full-time staff engage its community partners and beneficiaries to understand their needs, identify programmes to support, and assess the outcomes achieved.

Mr Suhaimi Zainul-Abidin, the foundation’s director, said: “We believe that philanthropy is uniquely positioned to take on calculated risks with innovative, untested approaches to solving social issues, so as to encourage experimentation by the social sector, demonstrate the viability of new ideas and drive longer-lasting change.”

Senior staff of Quantedge Capital, an investment management firm, donate annually to the Quantedge Foundation – “giving more in years when business is good and bonuses are high, and less in leaner times”, he added.

The foundation’s core focus is improving social mobility.

He said: “If we do not, collectively as a society, recognise that this is an issue that we should pay particular attention to, we may well sleepwalk into a stratified, divided society in the future.”

For example, Quantedge Foundation initiated talks with the Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Technology and Design to co-design and seed-fund an initiative, where financially needy Singaporean students will get a full financial aid package that makes their entire university education tuition free.

It also worked with a charity, Playeum, to pilot a series of science, technology, engineering, arts and maths workshops as an after-school developmental programme for children from lower-income families.

Since it was registered as a charity, the Quantedge Foundation has disbursed $7.4 million in grants and committed to giving another $8 million or so more.

The Soristic report ranked the Quantedge Foundation 22nd on its list, disbursing $2.3 million in grants in 2019.

Mr Suhaimi said: “In today’s knowledge-based, technologically driven capitalist society, the winners win by such a large margin that it is not quite right to keep all the gains without sharing some with the wider community.

“One of our hopes is that wealthy individuals, families and companies will find resonance in what the Quantedge Foundation is doing, and in time, give back to the society in their own way.”

If you have an interest in strategic philanthropy or would like to start a donor-advised fund with us, visit here.

This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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Opinion

Sustainable Philanthropy Matters: The History of Caring and Charity

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In this three-part series ‘Sustainable Philanthropy Matters’, we explore the surprisingly intimate relationship between philanthropy and sustainability and how the practice of one can in fact, lead to the advancement of the other. Both of these issues are close to our hearts here at CFS and we want to share how our philanthropy can help preserve our planet, our communities and our future.

Believe it or not, philanthropy and sustainability are concepts that have been around for millennia. Our forefathers understood the need for charity and living with the future in mind long before we had frameworks and modern models for them.

Examining the Roots of Giving

Although the word philanthropy, or philanthropia as the ancient Greeks called it, first emerged about 7000 years ago, it meant a love for one’s fellow people, not so much the donation of drachmas.

In fact, it was not until about 5000 years later, as described in the Bible, that a form of community where those who shared what they had with those who had not really began. Although some may argue that this was communism, not charity; however, this was an early record of giving resources to help those in need. While the term sustainability seems like a pretty modern buzzword, elements of this actually existed 3,000 years ago. It was discovered that humans in the late Neolithic period had developed a method of sustainably obtaining their firewood, avoiding deforestation and ensuring they would always have a way to keep warm (Dufraisse, 2008, pp199-210).

This could be said to be the distant ancestor of the 1713 Principle of Saxony formulated by Hans Carl von Carlowitz. His forestry treatise discussed the “continuously enduring and sustainable use” of the forest for wood (World Ocean Review, 2015).

Philanthropy in the Present

Giving to others has continued to exist till today, expanding from religious origins to permeate many facets of society. Tithes still exist but now one can donate through the Government or via non-profit and voluntary welfare organisations. The range of beneficiaries has also expanded, with those in need ranging from children and people with disabilities to isolated seniors, ex-offenders and so much more. The underlying commonality is that they are almost always in financial need of some sort. And it is the act of giving a monetary donation to support these beneficiaries that is the philanthropy we have come to know today.

However, evidence of financial contributions towards the environment only came along in the middle of the 20th century. It began in 1941, to be exact, with Rockefeller funding conservation activities across the United States, amongst his numerous other philanthropic efforts (Rockefeller Brothers Fund, 2022). And it was only seven years after that that the International Union for Conservation of Nature—the oldest environmental organisation in the world, mind you—was only established on 5 October 1948.

The Purpose of Philanthropy and Planning Ahead

For those who give, whether to social or environmental causes, there is a variety of reasons as to why we do so: a sense of obligation, concern over a particular issue, a desire to see a better future and, yes, even tax relief. It is alright to be pragmatic!

However, giving towards social causes has a deep-seated, almost unconscious need to grow the community. From ancient times, we humans have understood the strength in numbers, which is why we formed communities, or tribes as they were called back then.  

However, in banding together, there was an inevitable strain on resources. This created the need to be responsible for how we consumed our natural resources and, in a larger sense, be mindful of how our actions impacted the environment.

Charity + Conservation = Sustainability

Without the ever-present danger of a larger tribe taking over our own, or at least not in Singapore, there is little direct and personal benefit to us as a donor, apart from tax deduction and a sense of well-being.

We give simply because we care. That is the link between the two.

Whether it is towards social or environmental causes, community or green philanthropy, our contributions show that we care for others. It could be for the present, through financial assistance for daily living for instance, or for future generations, through conservation efforts. Because, after all, the children of our children will need a liveable world in which to grow up.

It can be a little daunting, given the sheer range of needs that society faces today, to consider also the needs of those who have not yet been born.

Leave a Legacy

Thankfully, the world (and its needs) does not rest on one’s shoulders alone. With years of experience in studying philanthropic trends and working to understand the needs of the community and environment, The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) can help you add your footprint to humankind’s long and ongoing journey of giving.

We value the creation of positive impact while keeping in mind the bigger picture of how the contribution will create sustained change.

At CFS, we steward our donors, through their funds, to make their mark on our community and our planet. Whether they contribute today or over the years, it will be their legacy. To find out how you can leave your legacy for tomorrow, please visit here.

To learn more about CFS’s Corporate Sustainability efforts, please read more here.

To read the other 2 stories in the ‘Sustainable Philanthropy Matters’ series, please click below:

This article was written by Adam, a Principal Consultant with CFS and an experienced sustainability practitioner. He is an advocate for sustainable practices. His colleagues are still wondering how his monthly household utilities bill is only around $70.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CFS or its members.

References

  1. Alexa Dufraisse. (2008). Firewood management and woodland exploitation during the late Neolithic at Lac de Chalain (Jura, France). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 17(2).
  2. World Ocean Review 4. (2015). Sustainable Use of Our Oceans – Making Ideas Work. https://worldoceanreview.com/en/wor-4/concepts-for-a-better-world/what-is-sustainability/
  3. Rockefeller Brothers Fund. (Accessed 2022). Conservation and the Environmenthttps://www.rbf.org/about/about-us/conservation-and-environment
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News

Berita Harian: Programme to prepare youths for the workplace launched

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Read more.

Translation:

Two programmes to help disadvantaged youths transition from school to work were launched yesterday in conjunction with the opening of the A.P.T.I.T.U.D.E Centre at ITE College Central.

Launched by the Singapore Youth Impact Collective (the ‘Collective’), the initiative is the first of its kind in Singapore that uses the collective impact model and allows donors and non-profit organisations to solve complex social issues together.

CFS deputy CEO Joyce Teo explained further: “This approach recognises the value of collaboration in addressing complex social issues that requires the coordinated efforts of multiple entities, often from different sectors.”

The Collective wants to increase the ability of youths from underprivileged backgrounds to succeed in the workforce through training and skills development.

The Collective comprises six members, namely Changi Foundation, the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), Credit Suisse, Octava Foundation, SHINE Children and Youth Services (SHINE) and TOUCH Community Services (TOUCH). To date, the funders have pledged close to $1 million towards the programmes.

The programmes, A.P.T.I.T.U.D.E Centre at ITE College Central and Youth Forte, aim to encourage young people to get their education qualifications, to develop their socio-emotional skills and provide them with access to job opportunities.

For example, A.P.T.I.T.U.D.E which is run by TOUCH in collaboration with ITE will offer structured programmes.

TOUCH youth coaches will work closely with the ITE-identified classes and help students work hard towards achieving their dreams

The Youth Forte programme targets youths 17 to 21 years’ old who are not in school or not working more than six months, and are facing difficulties entering the workforce.

Conducted by SHINE, the programme guides these young people through various stages including assessment, individual guidance, socio-emotional training, job skills training, practical training and vocational training that provides WSQ certification.

Talking about leveraging on the collaboration, Anita Low-Lim, Senior Director (Children and Youth Group), TOUCH, said, “This is a great opportunity for TOUCH to work with similar-minded partners who want to improve the work of youth development work and develop better training programmes.”

Benjamin Teo, Centre Director for Yishun Centre, SHINE, agreed:“The collective impact model allows non-profits to tackle operational challenges together with the donors. I’m positive this will help us in making a greater in the lives of these youths and their families.”

The Collective’s programmes are for youths aged 17 to 25 who may need support in school or after graduation as they seek employment.

Their aim is to empower 230 youths to be work-ready over the next three years.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

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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