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UBS Diversity in Abilities Concert – Celebrating the talents of children with special needs
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

UBS Diversity in Abilities Concert – Celebrating the talents of children with special needs

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Children dressed in bright costumes holding props while performing on stage

A joint initiative by UBS AG and the Community Foundation of Singapore, Diversity in Abilities is a stage production and art exhibition showcase to bring performing and visual arts lessons to special education schools in Singapore.

The aim was to motivate and inspire children with special needs to learn new skills and inculcate new hobbies through the arts. With the help of trained artists, students took a 16-week journey of learning and discovery of talents and achievements in film, music, dance, drama and visual arts.

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These kids were then invited to showcase their talents at an exhibition and concert, performing together with children of UBS employees. At the event, UBS employees also got involved as make-up artists, receptionists, ushers and auctioneers.

“UBS has been in Singapore for nearly 40 years and our community investments focus on education and entrepreneurship. The Diversity in Abilities arts programme is one such initiative. We hope that through our investment in these various initiatives, we can make a contribution to the success of Singapore as a community.” said Edmund Koh, Singapore Country Head and Asia Pacific Head of Wealth Management, UBS.

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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

Here’s how you can help the people of Ukraine – Ways to donate

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a group of military men transporting boxes of water using a helicopter

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is triggering what the United Nations fears could be Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century. More than 2 million people, out of a nation of 44 million, have fled to neighbouring countries since the conflict began.  

The human cost of the war is alarming and rising by the day. Hundreds of lives have been lost, and thousands of families have been displaced.  

Global charities urgently call for funds to ramp up humanitarian aid in Ukraine. There is a pressing need for medical assistance, food, water, clothing, emergency cash and shelter. There are also plenty of private fundraisers online, but how do you ensure that your money will reach those who need it? How do you know that a particular fundraising appeal is legitimate? Should you send supplies like blankets and warm clothing?  

One of the fastest ways to help is to donate cash to a trusted charity doing on-the-ground relief work. Donations of items are a challenge for charities to handle and distribute as in a warzone, supply chains are disrupted. Logistical options are also very limited, making it challenging to deliver bulky physical items. Cash can be used to purchase necessities more quickly at nearby unaffected regions, allowing charities to respond faster and better at this critical time. 

But which charity should you be donating to? CFS is well-placed to help you navigate giving during this geopolitical crisis as a cause-neutral philanthropic advisor. For those who are looking to support Ukraine and its people, we recommend the following bona fide organisations: 

Singapore Red Cross  

Singapore Red Cross is the global humanitarian organisation’s local arm established in 1949. It is a credible, transparent and time-tested charity providing disaster relief assistance, both locally and internationally.   

It has raised almost $3 million after launching an urgent appeal on 25 February, which is running till 31 May. The first tranche of US$100,000 reached Ukraine on 4 March and a second tranche of $2.4 million is on the way. The funds are to assist Ukrainians in the besieged nation and across six neighbouring countries – Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania.   

The focus will be on providing aid to vulnerable people, including unaccompanied minors, single women with children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Besides giving emergency relief aid, the charity will also offer shelter, health, water, sanitation, hygiene, and psychosocial support. 

Donate to the Singapore Red Cross here

Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives, Singapore (CHARIS)

CHARIS is the umbrella body for overseas humanitarian aid by the Archdiocese of Singapore. Launched in 2010, CHARIS Singapore is a legitimate charity that provides both immediate and long-term relief to persons who have been forcibly displaced, as well as those in need.   

In response to the crisis in Ukraine, CHARIS Singapore has pledged an initial $100,000 from their Humanitarian Aid Fund to extend essential aid to vulnerable individuals afflicted by the war. The support will be channelled to Caritas Ukraine and Caritas Spes, which are based in Ukraine and working on the ground, to provide daily necessities, shelter, transportation and evacuation services, and psychological support to families.  

Charities worldwide are responding to the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and trying to bring aid to its people. If you wish to provide support directly to a foreign charitable organisation, you may consider these two verified charities: the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and The UN Refugee Agency. 

Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) 

The US-based CDP is dedicated to helping donors maximise their impact by making more intentional disaster-related giving decisions. Since 2010, the nonprofit has directed financial and technical support to disasters and humanitarian crises.   

The CDP’s Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund will focus on addressing humanitarian needs that arise, particularly among the most vulnerable, marginalised and at-risk internally-displaced peoples and refugees.   

Donate to CDP here

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) 

UNHCR is a global organisation that aids and protects refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people. UNHCR has been working in Ukraine since 1994, providing legal, social, and humanitarian assistance, such as winter clothing and blankets and psychosocial support and emergency shelter to people afflicted by the country’s ongoing tensions.   

The UN has issued a US$1.7 billion flash appeal to support humanitarian needs across Ukraine and its bordering countries. It estimates that 12 million people inside Ukraine and more than 4 million refugees may need protection and assistance in the coming months.  

Donate to UNHCR here.  

References:  

  1. Begum, S. (2022, March 10). Singapore Red Cross to send $2.4m to Ukraine, neighbouring countries in second tranche of aid. The Straits Times. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-red-cross-to-send-24m-to-ukraine-neighbouring-countries-in-second-tranche-of-aid  
  2. Centre of Disaster Philanthropy (2022). CDP Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Recovery Fund. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://disasterphilanthropy.org/cdp-fund/cdp-ukraine-humanitarian-crisis-recovery-fund/ 
  3. Singapore Red Cross’ Humanitarian Aid Arrives In Ukraine. (2022, March 4). Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://www.redcross.sg/media-centre/press-releases/1124-singapore-red-cross-humanitarian-aid-arrives-in-ukraine.html 
  4. UNHCR. (2022, March 1) UN seeks US$1.7 billion as humanitarian needs soar in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Retrieved from March 10, 2022, from https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2022/3/621e0aa74/un-seeks-us17-billion-humanitarian-needs-soar-ukraine-neighbouring-countries.html  
  5. UNHCR. (2022, March 8). Ukraine situation: Flash update. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://reporting.unhcr.org/document/1884 
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Opinion

5 Critical gaps in caring for vulnerable seniors in Singapore

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two young people helping an elderly

Singapore is fast reaching superaged status. Life expectancy is going up while the birth rate is heading south. By 2030 – not many years from where we are today – one in four Singaporeans will be 65 years or older. More worryingly, a fifth of that cohort will be over 80 (Population in Brief 2021). 

Ageing well and quality of life are huge concerns for our elderly. The biggest challenges centre on health: physical frailty or disability, sensory impairment such as hearing loss, or chronic conditions such as dementia or diabetes. However, ageing is not just a matter of biophysical health. It is also about bolstering psychological, emotional and community support. 

Mental wellness issues, such as depression and loneliness, are a real threat to the older demographic. On top of this, many older Singaporeans worry about financial security, due to escalating care costs, inadequate retirement income and limited earning opportunities. 

Many people prefer to age at home but that too has its challenges. In this article, we highlight the critical gaps in caring for vulnerable seniors and what can be done to support them so that ageing can be enabling, empowering and meaningful.

#1 Funding rising healthcare needs

Singapore’s healthcare expenses could jump tenfold between 2016 and 2030 to over $66 billion1. Family is typically the first line of support but families are getting smaller and relationships may be estranged. Income caps also mean not everyone qualifies for government aid. 

Even when fees are subsidized, low-income seniors may struggle with costs. Women, in particular, face more financial insecurity as they tend to have interrupted employment or be in low-wage or unpaid care work. Women also tend to outlive men and are more likely to be single, widowed or divorced in old age. 

The burden lands on welfare organisations to meet the shortfall. However, causes that help the elderly don’t attract as much funding as say, education, which in Singapore receives the lion’s share of donations: in 2019, they accounted for 52.9% of total receipts of $20.8 billion (Commissioner of Charities 2020).

#2 Access to home care and assisted living

Letting people age at home or in the community and delaying institutional care is a universal goal. But as the number of seniors with mobility issues or age-related ailments increases, demand for home nursing, home therapy, meal deliveries, assistive devices and home safety and modification services (to prevent falls) will rise. There will also be a much bigger role for centre-based eldercare, such as day care, and initiatives for assisted living.

#3 Depression and suicide

Aside from physical ill health, many seniors grapple with loneliness, loss of loved ones or dependence on others. The number of elderly living alone doubled to 63,800 in 2020 from a decade ago and is set to hit 83,000 by 2030 (Singapore Department of Statistics). 

According to the Samaritans of Singapore, the number of people aged 60 and above who took their own lives reached a high at 154 deaths in 2020. That’s a 26% increase from the year before and is the highest elderly suicide death rate since 19912. There is an urgent need to support charities that connect with seniors, organise social outings or wellness activities for them, offer intergenerational bonding or assist beneficiaries with their healthcare needs such as medical appointments and screenings. 

#4 Dementia support

Dementia is our nation’s most prevalent neurodegenerative disease today, affecting one in 10 seniors. By 2030, the number of dementia patients is set to reach 92,000 – a doubling from 2015 (Dementia in the Asia Pacific Region). Dementia additionally imposes a huge burden on caregivers, many of whom are ageing themselves. We need more funding to support early diagnosis and intervention, community dementia care services such as exercise and cognitive activities as well as training and support for caregivers.

#5 End of life care

Discussions about death or end of life remain taboo. There is insufficient advance care planning as well as a lack of healthcare workers and expertise in the palliative care system. Better awareness and improved options for inpatient, home or day care hospice services are needed.

How CFS helps you do more with your giving

If you would like to help seniors who have fallen through the cracks or would like to make ageing more empowering and inclusive, we at CFS can align your giving goals with the needs of this community. We are a cause-neutral organisation that supports grantmaking to a wide range of charitable areas in Singapore. Of the 400-plus charities we evaluate and make grants to, close to 30% work with seniors. We partner with charities that focus on clearly identified problem areas or social gaps that are under-supported. Charities must also demonstrate measurable outcomes and good stewardship of funds.

A simple and cost-effective way to contribute to a variety of causes in Singapore is by setting up a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF). A DAF can be set up by an individual, a beneficiary of a will, a trust, or a family office. CFS will handle all fund administration and leverage our unparalleled insight into Singapore’s charitable landscape to provide philanthropy advice that ensures your giving is targeted, accountable and impactful. CFS strives to ensure that every grant that goes out creates positive change.

As a donor, you will save on legal expenses and enjoy upfront tax deductions at the prevailing rate on eligible donations. Donors will also receive regular statements tracking incoming donations to the DAF and outgoing disbursements to charities. CFS has an established track record when it comes to setting up DAFs and our DAF payout rates outperformed the entire US DAF industry by 12% and their community foundations by 2 times. 

If you would like to begin your giving journey with CFS, get in touch with us.

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.

1 https://www.asiaone.com/health/elderly-health-costs-rise-tenfold-2030-report

2 https://www.sos.org.sg/pressroom/singapore-reported-452-suicide-deaths-in-2020-number-of-elderly-suicide-deaths-highest-recorded-since-1991

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News

Portfolio Magazine: Helping others help others

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Asian woman (Ms Loh) in red dress posing for camera.

“These six years at CFS have definitely been a fulfilling learning journey for me,” says Ms. Catherine Loh. She smiles for the first time since we sat down to discuss how she traded her successful banking career to one in charity – as CEO of CFS. “I developed greater empathy and learned to see things from another person’s perspective. I’m also humbled by the selflessness displayed by so many in the social sector as they strive daily to help their beneficiaries overcome life’s challenges.”

Set up in 2008, CFS currently manages 110 donor funds, including the SR Nathan Education Upliftment Fund, and has raised over S$100 million in total donations. It also works closely with over 400 charities to identify the gaps in the community that need support.

Ms. Loh sees her work as stimulating attempts at innovation and problem solving. “The needs of donors and beneficiaries are always changing, and there are constantly new ways that we can work with donors and charity partners to solve complex social issues.”

A Different Start
The moment she stepped out of the university, Ms. Loh, like most of her peers, began an earnest pursuit of the 5Cs: cash, car, condominium and country club – popular benchmarks of success in the rapidly developing economic powerhouse that Singapore was in the 1980s and ‘90s.

She started her career at the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, followed by leadership positions in the Singapore offices of Nomura, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs. “I’m very fortunate to have spent many years of my career in banking, which has seen tremendous growth over the past 20 years,” Ms. Loh says. Work in a dealing room was intense – a virtual roller-coaster ride that followed the constant fluctuations in the financial markets. It was also very competitive and profit-driven.

But there were genuine perks: “The best part of the job was meeting clients from all over the region, understanding their needs, and finding suitable financial solutions in volatile financial markets. Many colleagues and clients have become my good friends and I will always treasure these relationships forged over the years,” Ms. Loh says.

The thrilling ride came to a grinding halt, however. In 2008, the financial crisis that would trigger a global recession had peaked; its aftermath took a toll on Ms. Loh’s health. “I decided to take a break to spend more time with my family and regain my health. After leaving the banking industry in 2010, I spent a year and a half at home looking after my third child who was born in 2009.”

Changing Tracks
When her toddler entered preschool, Ms. Loh considered returning to work. A job offer from the social sector came along. Although it was a different path, her previous volunteer involvement with Assisi Hospice, Metta Welfare Association, and Telok Kurau Primary School prepared her for it.

“I thought it was a wonderful opportunity for me to contribute back to society in a way that can maximize my skill-set and experience in management, sales and marketing, and financial investment management.”

Transitioning into her new role was initially difficult. Ms. Loh had to adjust from working in a large profit-driven organization to a small non-profit focused on doing good. “Being in a lean organization means every team member often has to multitask. Another learning curve was managing staff who are driven by the will to do good and not just by money alone.”

Ms. Loh also found that the largely female-dominated CFS required a more consensus style of management versus a more direct confrontational style in a male-dominated dealing room. “Working with charity partners also demanded more patience and empathy as they are generally understaffed and unable to work at a speed investment that bankers are used to.”

Inspiring Philanthropy
”Our goal has always been to inspire philanthropy, and that has not changed. When I first joined, CFS was still at its infancy and donors were simply looking for a convenient way to consolidate their donation and disburse grants. The needs of donors have evolved along with the shifting social landscape, and CFS has had to rise up beyond an administrative role to better accommodate these changing needs.”

Over the years, as donors gain a better understanding of the social landscape, they began to ask for more information and transparency on how their donations actually help those in need. “We then have to assist our charity partners to better articulate the impact of their programs to donors. For donors who want to find out even more, we facilitate charity visits and meetings with beneficiaries, with the objective of building deeper collaborations and strengthening partnerships among our donors and the communities we serve,” Ms. Loh elaborates.

In the recent years, donors have sought out CFS for strategic philanthropy advisory to obtain help in devising strategies to achieve their philanthropic goals and objectives. “We do that by understanding what donors want to achieve with their philanthropic dollars and we create a ‘portfolio’ of charity programs which they can support to achieve their goals. We would also follow up with evaluation and reporting back to donors so that they understand the impact of their giving.”

A Distinct Difference
Ms. Loh observes that although many people want to help, some may not have time, experience or expertise to do it themselves. “This sentiment can be exacerbated by the sheer volume of information available online. Donors want efficient ways to structure their philanthropy, so they can plan sustained giving to the causes they care about.

“This is where CFS can help with our philanthropy expertise spanning administration, strategy and grant-making. We save donors the work and resources needed to set up a private foundation. By tapping on our philanthropy services, they avoid high overheads, save on time and legal expenses, and enjoy tax deductions upfront.”

CFS has in-house resources to identify charities and evaluate their programs. “We help avoid duplication in funding areas where there may already be adequate government funding or private support. For donors who establish endowment funds with us, we invest their monies to ensure that there is a steady income stream to benefit their selected charities.”

CFS helps donors understand the issues and let them decide how they want to help. It then applies the donors’ funds to the particular area they have identified, and help to track the outcome. “This enables donors to feel a sense of fulfillment, and when they do, very often, they want to do more to help.”

Ms. Loh maintains that donors appreciate CFS following up on the outcomes of their grants. Donors understand that their support is part of a greater whole, and they like to understand how their money has made a difference. “The desire for accountability has always been there, and 10 years on, we see enhanced reporting capability in the charity sector. At CFS, we would like to think that we have contributed positively to this trend.”

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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

CFS Donor Learning Trip Series: The transformative power of early intervention by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore

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This initiative is part of CFS’s Donor Learning Trips, a series of engagement opportunities that enable donors to personally connect with charities and gain insights into how they support communities in need.

Imagine not being able to read because the letters and words are mixed up. Imagine struggling to spell or write, being labelled slow and falling behind at school. These are the realities students with dyslexia face, realities that empathetic donors from CFS got to better understand during a visit to the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS). 

“It was an eye-opening experience that left a lasting impact on us,” said Mr Sim Willing, President of the IFPAS Love Fund. The IFPAS Love Fund is one of four donor-advised funds (DAFs) that joined our Donor Learning Trip in July 2023 to the DAS Learning Centre at Serangoon Central. The social service organisation provides dyslexia screenings, psychological assessments and remediation. 

Accessing Quality Education is one of CFS’s five focal areas for grantmaking, where we curate programmes that ensure everyone has access to quality, holistic education and opportunities for them to function and thrive academically.

During the visit, donors had the valuable opportunity to hear from and talk with DAS Vice-Chairman Mr Kevin Kwek, DAS CEO Mr Lee Siang, Senior Specialist Psychologist Ms Scarlett Leong and other staff members.

One key takeaway for our donors was that dyslexia is more common than they thought. Dyslexia is a neurological condition where the brain is wired to handle information differently. It is lifelong and tends to be hereditary. Studies indicate that it affects around 10% of the population, 4% severely. 

In Singapore, there are an estimated 20,000 students with dyslexia severe enough to need intervention, says Mr Lee. Children with dyslexia, moreover, may also have co-occurring difficulties. These include problems with memory, attention, time management and sequencing.  DAS currently serves around 3,500 preschool, primary and secondary school students across 12 centres. 

Poverty significantly compounds the challenge for students with learning difficulties. Undiagnosed children who slip through the cracks find it hard to break out of poverty. As Mr Lee points out, “International research suggests that 30-60% of prison populations may have dyslexia. Specialist intervention can help break a vicious cycle for those with special needs.” At DAS, 52% of its students come from lower-income families. This is where intervention—supported by donor generosity— can be transformative. 

Intervention requires significant resources. DAS gets some funding for screenings but none for psychological assessments. Such assessments are crucial to ascertain if a child has a learning difficulty, its severity and to identify areas of learning needs. Each assessment must be carried out by a highly trained psychologist and takes considerable time, making it costly. This can put it out of reach of the less well-off.

To bridge this gap, DAS collaborates with like-minded partners like CFS. For the charity, CFS has been critical in bringing in donors such as the IPFAS Love Fund. Their grants directly help children from lower-income families access this much-needed service.

IFPAS set up the IFPAS Love Fund in 2017, choosing CFS for its strong track record in managing charitable funds. “A dedicated advisor at CFS takes the time to understand our giving goals and guides us to make well-informed decisions on where to direct resources for maximum effect. Administration is also easy as CFS handles legal and financial compliance, fund management, and grant distribution,” adds Mr Sim

As our relationship with CFS has grown, so has the depth and breadth of our giving. Over time, we have gained a better understanding of social issues and community needs, and CFS has played a pivotal role in keeping us updated on emerging trends and impactful projects. This ongoing learning process has led to the evolution of our giving strategies, allowing us to be more strategic, responsive, and effective in addressing the changing needs of the community.

Dyslexia is a hidden disability but with timely intervention, many can go on to contribute significantly to society. Through targeted and thoughtful philanthropy, we can extend professional support to more children with dyslexia, allowing them to reach their full potential and lead more fulfilling lives.  

CFS assists charities and their underprivileged communities by connecting them with donors seeking to support causes and crucial needs that resonate with them deeply.

To find out more about the causes we support, please visit www.cf.org.sg/what-we-support/.

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