Stories Of Impact
The Business Times: A S$10m fund with a difference to address Singapore’s social issues
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

The Business Times: A S$10m fund with a difference to address Singapore’s social issues

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It seeks to foster tie-ups among stakeholders for long-term initiatives, rather than one-off donations

By Claudia Tan

Lunch affairs with Singapore Exchange (SGX) head of global sales and origination and executive vice-president, Chew Sutat, does not come cheap. But it is not because he prefers fine dining or a lavish meal, but rather, he is always looking out for opportunities to raise funds.

Mr Chew is known for chairing the SGX charity initiative Bull Charge since 2011. He is also chairman of Caregivers Alliance and the Kaki Bukit Grassroots organisation, among other key positions he holds.

“That’s why people joke that lunch with me is very expensive because invariably, there is always some cause that someone resonates with and I happen to be able to be a channel to help them give back,” said Mr Chew.

His inclination to contribute to society can be attributed to his days as a boy scout in Anglo Chinese School (ACS).

“As a kid, my first interaction with social causes was raising money as a scout,” said Mr Chew. He also chaired the Interact Club, which provides opportunities for students to serve the community, in secondary school.

While he was actively involved in social and community-based activities in his early days, he admitted to taking a backseat upon enrolling in university and entering the corporate world.

It was only when former SGX chief executive officer Hsieh Fu Hua came into the scene that Mr Chew reignited his passion for philanthropy. Mr Hsieh was responsible for initiating the Bull Charge back in 2004 and had always championed for charitable causes.

“Fu Hua was an inspiration and after he left SGX, I had the opportunity to chair the internal SGX corporate social responsiblity activities. He is also one of my key mentors that got me more involved in charity and community work later in my corporate life,” said Mr Chew.

His involvement in charity and community work made him realise that there exists what he coined as a “market failure” in fundraising efforts.

“There are a lot of young folks who may have an interest in doing good and want to set up charities for causes they are passionate about but money from many foundation owners may not necessarily find the way to these people who want to do good.”

“And many of them with the best intentions don’t necessarily have the experience, network or professional ability to set things up,” he said.

That was why when the new initiative Mind the Gap 200 (MtG200) was brought to his attention, he seized the opportunity to be a part of it.

Kickstarted by chief executive officer of Pavilion Capital Tow Heng Tan, MtG200 is a S$10 million fund set up by 11 donors, in their own private capacities, with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) to address social issues in Singapore. MtG200 targets needs in four main areas – community, education, healthcare, and sustainability.

Mr Chew, who is the youngest member in MtG200, said that it was humbling for him to be able to fill the gaps of the “market failure”.

“The fund can create confidence for new initiatives to kick off and be a platform for others who would like to give back and bring about catalytic change,” said Mr Chew.

What sets this fund apart is that it aims to foster collaboration among stakeholders for long-term initiatives, rather than one-off donations.

“The MtG200 family of funds can leverage on each other in terms of their individual expertise to create something that is much bigger than what they can do on their own,” said Joyce Teo, deputy chief executive officer of CFS.

This is contrary to current charity efforts that involve a lot of event-based fundraising.

“Current initiatives create a very transactional relationship between the giver and the charities,” she said.

A fund like MtG200 will build a longer-term relationship with the charity partners, creating sustainability in terms of funds going into the charity sector.

Last week, MtG200 had already made a commitment of S$500,000 to Assisi Hospice to look into building capabilities in manpower and innovations to deliver palliative care.

But Mr Chew acknowledged that sparking change in the society extends beyond fundraising, and manpower is needed on the ground.

He recounted how he often gets mocked by his wife, who is a volunteer at an after-school care for those who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“She said she is doing the real work while I sit on charity boards and do the boring stuff,” said Mr Chew.

The challenges faced in the charity scene are plenty but the needs are even more, he said

“Bottom line is that there is a role for every individual. You may not be able to write that big cheque but a small cheque can go a long way. You may not be able to go into the sector fulltime but you may volunteer in other ways.”

On rumours that his active involvement in grassroots work may position him for a career in politics, Mr Chew replied, “My present plate of professional responsibilities, community and volunteering work is already more than full – supported by a very patient wife. Read more

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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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Campaign Brief Asia: Community Foundation of Singapore partners with DDB Group to inspire philanthropy

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"My Cho Cho Ma She started our family's journey of giving" Keith Chua

DDB Group Singapore has lent a helping hand to the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) to develop an integrated marketing communications campaign to raise awareness for the philanthropic organisation among individual and corporate donors. The appointment and campaign coincide with the 10th anniversary celebration of CFS this year. Founded in 2008, CFS matches donors with philanthropic causes to drive positive change and create a lasting impact within communities.

“It’s a pleasure to partner an organisation like CFS – a hugely dedicated group of people working hard to enhance the lives of Singaporeans,” said Neil Johnson, Creative Chairman, DDB Group Singapore. “The campaign is rooted in our belief that true acts of giving is a culmination of life experiences, lessons and reflection.”

A multimedia combination of video, digital, and print initiatives, the campaign titled ‘Portraits of generosity‘ features five donor stories, each sharing the motivation behind their decision to give, and why they chose CFS to manage their giving and achieve their goals in helping others. The DDB campaign sets out to inspire the same generosity in others and build a culture of giving in Singapore.

“DDB has done a wonderful job of creating a very relatable and engaging campaign,” said Yuen Yee Foong, Head of Marketing at CFS. “We are grateful to our donors for stepping up to tell their stories and hope that through these first-hand accounts of giving, others will realise that they too, have it in them to open their hearts and give back,” she added.

Since its launch in 2008, CFS has received over S$100 million in donations, set up more than 110 charitable funds, and given out S$60 million in grants in collaboration with over 400 charities supporting programmes that impact diverse communities. Donors are required to pledge a minimum of S$200,000 to establish a fund which can support charities and preferred causes across the sectors in Singapore.

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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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A Call for Collaborative Giving: Scaling Greater Heights with Seniors

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John Doe
A call for collaborative giving: Join hands to make a difference. Together, let's create positive change through collective generosity. #CollaborativeGiving

The third Colabs publication explores how we as individuals and as a society can help our senior citizens live more happily in our community, against the backdrop of an aging population. The collective insights of 98 participants identified various issues such as the generational gap and lack of purpose. In collaborative discussions on the way forward, one key point was to involve seniors from the very beginning, to improve their ownership and adoption of the solutions. Read more here.

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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News

Budget 2023: Govt to extend 250% tax deduction for donations until 2026

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John Doe
a person standing next to a white van

Singapore will extend its tax deduction rate for donations for another three years until the end of 2026, as part of efforts to foster and sustain a spirit of giving.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said on Tuesday that this will be done although the tax deduction for donations at 250 per cent is 
already very high compared with other jurisdictions.

The Government will review thereafter what would be a more sustainable level of tax deduction for the longer term, he said.

He added that Singaporeans have donated generously. Despite the economic downturn due to Covid-19, the donations received through Giving.sg were about three
times higher than pre-pandemic levels, and have remained around $100 million in the last three years.

Giving.sg is a one-stop national giving platform by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, which hosts more than 600 registered non-profit groups in
Singapore.

Another way to continue to foster the spirit of giving that Mr Wong highlighted is through tax-deductible donations to Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) and
eligible institutions.

The Government will also enhance the existing Business and IPC Partnership Scheme into a broader Corporate Volunteer Scheme, which will be extended for three
more years to Dec 31, 2026.

From January 1, 2024, the scope of qualifying volunteering activities will be expanded to include activities which are conducted virtually or outside of the IPCs’
premises.

The Government will also double the qualifying per-IPC cap to $100,000 per calendar year, to facilitate deeper partnerships between businesses and IPCs, he said.

It will also continue to strengthen the capabilities and support the services of charities, social service agencies (SSAs) and community organisations.

“(They) play critical roles in looking after the vulnerable, and mobilising Singaporeans to support those who are in greater need,” said Mr Wong.

Also announced was a $1 billion top-up of the Community Silver Trust, which provides dollar-for-dollar donation matching grants for SSAs that provide community care services for seniors.

This will enable the SSAs to enhance the quality and accessibility of community care, especially for the more vulnerable seniors, he said.

Charities and SSAs can also continue to tap the Charities Capability Fund (CCF) and the Community Capability Trust (CCT) to drive innovation and transform their
operations.

The CCF aims to enhance productivity, operational efficiency, governance and management capabilities of charities and IPCs. The CCT is a platform to support
capability and capacity-building schemes and initiatives for the social service sector.

The Government will also top up $10 million towards self-help groups over the next three years.

Said Mr Wong: “They are doing good work on the ground, and are well placed to provide assistance to members of their respective communities who need help.”

He also cited the example of Ms Emily Yap, a registered nurse at Alexandra Hospital, as someone who still volunteered on her days off for the wider community
despite her heavy workload during the pandemic.

Ms Yap started a ground-up initiative with other like-minded people to deliver grocery packs to the elderly and lower-income families in the community.

She also used her own Community Development Council vouchers to buy kueh bangkit (coconut cookies) for vulnerable families during the Chinese New Year period.

“This is what the Singapore spirit is about,” said Mr Wong.

“We have seen it in action, and experienced it in abundance over the last three years – how we are responsible for one another, keep an eye out for our fellow citizens, and always band together as a team.”

This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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Opinion

Sustainable Philanthropy Matters: Navigating the SDGs with Philanthropy

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John Doe
poster about sustainable philanthropy: navigating the SDGs with philanthropy

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.

Philanthropy has traditionally been aimed at supporting societal needs. In recent years, the increasingly pressing demand for climate reformation requires the influx of tremendous funding to support the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from R&D and technological applications to conservation and community efforts. Beyond the responsibilities of governments and businesses, philanthropy has a huge role to play. While this may sound novel, it actually is not and, in this third and final instalment of Sustainable Philanthropy Matters, we examine how philanthropy can help stem the tide of climate change.

The Interconnectedness of Sustainability

At first glance, the 17 SDGs might seem a little daunting, like some miniature Periodic Table meant to scare students. It may help to see this as one concerted effort to effect long-lasting change, to ensure the sustainable survival and thriving of both People and Planet.

This holistic approach is evident in that all the SDGs are, in fact, interconnected. In the last article, this was explained in a sustainable farming example. Besides these issues, the SDGs also help us to realise the borderless world we now live in. For example, rampant slash-and-burn agriculture in Indonesia (BBC News,bbc.com/news/world-asia-34265922 2019), droughts in California (Bernstein, 2015) and declining wild salmon populations in the Atlantic (Forseth, Barlaup, Einum, Finstad, Fiske et al, 2019, page 2) all have one thing in common: they affect communities in Singapore.

The first spells an annual onslaught of respiratory problems as haze blankets the country while the latter two impact our food supply, namely oranges and smoked salmon.

Everyone’s Cost to Bear

Those three problems are just some of the innumerable issues worldwide that the SDGs seek to address. A glance at the big picture shows that achieving the SDGs has a hefty price tag of an estimated $5t to $7t, although the silver lining of this is that that achievement could open up $12t of market opportunities (United Nations, 2022).

However, the localised impact demonstrated above makes it abundantly clear that we all have a stake in ensuring that those goals are achieved. Singapore’s enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NCCS, 2022) towards the SDGs, executed through initiatives such as the Green Plan 2030 (SG Green Plan, 2022) and 30 by 30 (SFA, 2021), cannot be achieved by the public and private sector alone. It requires individuals’ combined efforts, through practice and philanthropy.

The role of and need for philanthropy is even greater when we consider the Singaporean Government’s stance to avoid being a welfare state and instead, offer tiered and limited safety nets for those in need (MOF, 2020). While there is certainly a need to address the SDGs in the local context—such as those relating to poverty, hunger, health and education—Singaporeans are required to help themselves in this meritocratic system.

Partly because this is clearly easier said than done, a small sum is deducted from employees’ wages in Singapore that goes towards four racially-oriented Self Help Groups. So unless one opts out of this scheme, every salaried resident in Singapore is already involved in some form of philanthropy. 

Charities, Charities Everywhere

Of course, that sum is a miniscule drop in the large scheme of things, with $25.69m for the CDAC$8.54m for Mendaki$18.87m for SINDA and $0.78m for the Eurasian Community Fund, against a national total of $2.9b donations in 2019 (MCCY, 2020, page 4). Many non-profits and voluntary welfare organisations and their care recipients still rely on the goodwill of philanthropists.

While there are thankfully many generous donors out there, there is also a baffling number of charities and IPCs (Institutes of Public Character, which are held to even more stringent governance standards): 2,281 at the end of 2019, to be exact (MCCY, 2020, pages 13 and 17). Just like the SDGs, more charities are related to addressing societal needs than environmental ones.

That line is blurring today with countless examples: a centre for autism implementing an urban farming programme, a society that safeguards the cleanliness of our waterways for the local wildlife and citizens alike, and tree planting exercises for the public by the Garden City Fund.

Yet, there are still a lot of untapped opportunities. We need to develop programmes and build the capability that will allow our social sector to effectively address the SDGs in the local context and with environmental considerations. That requires funding — for research, pilot programmes and training.

A Touch of Philanthropic Professionalism

In breaking all this new ground, it is prudent to apply a layer of Governance checks over the Social and Environmental orientations and objectives of all the organisations and programmes.

Thankfully, one does not need to worry too much about Governance here in Singapore. Local regulations require charities and IPCs alike to be transparent about their operations, activities and finances.

As a winner of two accolades for transparency and governance at the 2019 Charity Governance Awards, CFS is ever-cognisant of the importance of balancing the outputs and outcomes of charities and their activities with their strategy and operational methods.

If you would like to know more about how CFS can help you source for, identify and evaluate programmes that both meet your philanthropic preferences and address the SDGs, please visit 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. BBC News. (16 September 2019). Indonesia haze: Why do forests keep burning? https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34265922
  2. Bernstein, Sharon. (2015). California citrus farmers pull up trees, dig reservoirs to survive drought. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-california-drought-farmers-idUSKCN0RB15420150911
  3. Forseth, T.,  Barlaup, B. T., Einum, S., Finstad, B., Fiske, P, et al. (2019). Status of wild Atlantoc salmon in Norway 2019. https://www.vitenskapsradet.no/Portals/vitenskapsradet/Pdf/Status%20of%20wild%20Atlantic%20salmon%20in%20Norway.pdf
  4. Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. (September 2020). Commissioner of Charities: Annual Report 2019https://www.charities.gov.sg/PublishingImages/Resource-and-Training/Publications/COC-Annual-Reports/Documents/Commissioner%20of%20Charities%20Annual%20Report%202019.pdf
  5. Ministry of Finance. (Updated 25 November 2020). Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review: Social Safety Nets. https://www.mof.gov.sg/singapore-public-sector-outcomes-review/citizens/opportunities-for-all-at-every-stage-of-life/social-safety-nets
  6. National Climate Change Secretariat of Singapore. (28 February 2020). Singapore’s Enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution and Long-Term Low-Emissions Development Strategy.  https://www.nccs.gov.sg/media/press-release/singapores-enhanced-nationally-determined-contribution-and-long-term-low-emissions-development-strategy
  7. SG Green Plan. (Updated 28 January 2022). https://www.greenplan.gov.sg/
  8. Singapore Food Agency. (Updated 17 December 2021). https://www.ourfoodfuture.gov.sg/30by30
  9. United Nations. (Accessed 16 February 2022). FAQ: How much will the implementation of this sustainable development agenda cost? https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/
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