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Business Times: Size no barrier to structured corporate giving
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Business Times: Size no barrier to structured corporate giving

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A newspaper article showcasing how size is not a hindrance to structured corporate giving. Exploring corporate philanthropy regardless of company scale.

Liontrust hopes its charity fund will spur fellow SMEs to make their giving count

Many owners of Singapore’s small and medium-sized enterprises would gladly give back to their community. But, without the heft larger corporations have, it is easy for them to resign themselves to thinking that each dollar they give won’t go as far, says Lim Wei-Jen, 47.

He wants his company’s giving to count for more.

Mr Lim is the founder of Liontrust, a trust and wealth management firm that got its start in 2005 and then rode the wave of growth in Singapore’s wealth management sector. It now has offices in Hong Kong and New Zealand too.

“It has always been in our plan that we want to commit a percentage of our profit to charity. We are quite blessed that the business has brought about additional income, that allows us to give,” says Mr Lim.

That desire to give of their gains is shared by the rest of Liontrust’s management team, says managing director Ashley Ong, 52. Many of them come from humble backgrounds. In Mr Ong’s case, his mother worked hard as a school sweeper to provide for her nine children, but never shied away from giving to those in need. “‘If you have the means, please help,’ she’d say.”

Mr Lim says, “In this world, there are the haves and the have-nots. The have-nots are really struggling; the haves may have no qualms about dining, opening a bottle of wine that costs a few thousand dollars…. We see the gaps in society and want to do our part to build a more inclusive home.”

In the early years, Liontrust’s giving was fragmented and ad-hoc, says Mr Ong. But the team did hope to eventually undertake a more structured and sustained approach to giving.

“How do smaller companies typically give? Do we just write a cheque to whichever organisation happens to knock at our door?” says Mr Lim. That also meant defaulting to safer, more established names.  “But these organisations are usually well supported and probably have sufficient publicity.”

Mr Lim says, “Do you only give to those with the highest profiles? We wanted to go deeper. To find charities with needs that we were not aware of.” Trouble was, that work of uncovering and assessing lesser-known charities would take more time, effort and expertise, he adds.

The business of doing good
This was why, when the Liontrust team came to know about the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), things clicked into place swiftly.

“Before starting with CFS, we talked about creating an internal committee, which would help to find targeted beneficiaries, but that wasn’t the best use of our resources as many of us were not familiar with the charity sector.

“By setting up a fund with CFS, we are guided by professionals who have the breadth and depth of knowledge of the charitable landscape in Singapore. This is an immense help to maximise our reach to those whom we want to help,” says Mr Ong.

Since starting the Liontrust Charity Fund with CFS in 2015, Liontrust has given to several children’s causes, supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds and with special needs, as well as assistive technology training for visually impaired children. CFS also surfaced less-publicised needs to Liontrust, such as the need for donations to cover fares of the London cabs that wheelchair-bound children from low-income households need to get to their hospital appointments.

Mr Ong describes Liontrust’s partnership with CFS so far as “a match made in heaven”.

Beyond receiving assistance with due diligence and reports on how each dollar is disbursed, CFS made it possible, in the first place, for Liontrust to set up a fund with relatively lower capital.

It might have been daunting for a small company to put aside a large sum at one go, but Liontrust was able to meet their intended commitment to the fund they set up in smaller, yearly tranches instead of a lump-sum.

Positive externalities
Choosing to manage its corporate philanthropy by setting up a fund aligns nicely with Liontrust’s business goals. “We’re in the business of trust, and some of our clients have also been interested in philanthropic giving, so we thought we should do it ourselves.”

What Mr Lim and Mr Ong did not anticipate though, was how Liontrust Charity Fund has become a rallying point around which to encourage their colleagues, clients and associates to give – whether by volunteering time or donating money.

“It’s been interesting because, through this, I’ve also been able to rally some of my closer friends and business associates,” says Mr Lim.

It is not uncommon, he observes, for well-heeled professionals in Singapore to have more than they need. Mr Lim also believes people to be innately kind and keen to give. Yet, many are so strapped for time to think about how best to use excess funds that often, they just end up buying another property. “With the fund, we have an opportunity to offer them an avenue to give and make a difference in other people’s lives without having to worry about due diligence,” he says.

They hope Liontrust’s modest experience will spur other smaller companies to pursue structured corporate giving too.

“I would encourage companies, whether small or big, to consider CFS. Often, the impression is that it is the big-name companies that can set up a foundation, organise a big charity run to fundraise… We don’t have those resources, yet we have been able to do this our own way,” says Mr Ong.

“Yes, there are fees to pay, but the extra help that comes really makes your every dollar count,” he adds.

And while the myriad reasons to embark on structured corporate giving certainly include the good that it does for a business’ brand – that cannot be the motivation, says Mr Lim. “Companies should not go in with the intention of getting publicity, of getting some mileage out of giving. You just have to take the first step in giving.”

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings 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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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.

News

A Call for Collaborative Giving: Scaling Greater Heights with Seniors

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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

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.

Stories Of Impact

Migrants Emergency Assistance and Support (MEANS) Community Impact Fund – Helping migrant worker in need

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John Doe
A woman tenderly assisting another women lying in a bed, providing care and support to ensure their well-being.

The MEANS (Migrants Emergency Assistance and Support) Community Impact Fund helps migrant workers who are legally employed in Singapore under R passes, work permits or special passes. It provides immediate and short-term financial assistance to disadvantaged migrant workers by covering:

  • Medical care to ill or injured workers who are abandoned, abused, under threat or under fed by their employers or whose medical care is not covered by their employers.
  • Shelter and basic necessities to injured workers or those seeking redress against unfair employment practices such as violence at work or contract violation.
  • Transport cost for workers who need to go to the various authorities (like Ministry of Manpower or the police) to resolve their cases regarding unfair employment practices as well as workers seeking employment while assisting in investigations.

Photo: Tom White Photography

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.

Opinion

4 Critical Educational Gaps for Disadvantaged Children & Youth in Singapore

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John Doe
a group of people sitting at a table with a group of children

While abilities and talents are distributed equally across the population, access to educational resources is often not. Children from low-income families are the ones who pay the price. Without the right educational opportunities, they underperform in school and end up with lower-paying jobs. Studies show that students from low-income families are more than four times as likely to be low performers than their affluent peers. (OECD, 2016) Without intervention, this cycle of income inequality will persist.

The growing special needs community is also in need of our urgent attention. One key area that we highlight is the need for integration with mainstream students. There needs to be greater awareness about creating better school and work opportunities for this community while preparing them to function independently as adults.

In this article, we highlight critical educational gaps for disadvantaged and vulnerable children and ways to level the playing field and improve their opportunities for social mobility.

#1 Funding for Early Education

The pre-school landscape presents over 1,900 childcare centres and kindergartens. They offer a wide-ranging fee structure that can range from a few dollars to over S$2,000 a month, depending on whether they are full or half-day programmes and with or without subsidies. 

During these early childhood years, pre-school education provides the foundation for children. It helps them develop the confidence and social skills to get them ready for formal education. However, low-income families may struggle even with subsidised fees. 

Children from families that can set aside additional resources for pre-school education have more opportunities to strengthen their social and behavioural skills than those from disadvantaged backgrounds. As the child is placed into a learning environment earlier in pre-school, they are weaned into the academic lifestyle earlier, which also aids their performance in formal education. Studies show that social-economically advantaged children in Singapore outperformed disadvantaged students in reading by 104 points. (PISA, 2018

While pre-school education is not compulsory, it is critical to ensure that all children get off the starting block of formal school without too much difficulty. Therefore, parents must understand the importance of pre-school education and available financial assistance schemes. It ensures that the children have access to critical education in their formative years.

#2 Developing Life Skills

A child’s home environment has a powerful impact on school readiness. Parents or caregivers in low-income homes tend to be busy working or absent; they have little time to support their children’s learning needs. Children often do not receive the stimulation they need and do not learn the social skills required to prepare them for school.

The resulting lower self-confidence, lower motivation, and reduced resilience pose further obstacles in their struggle for social mobility.

Activities such as team sports, drama, and public speaking encourage interaction. They are great for boosting confidence, self-esteem, and socio-emotional skills. We need funding for programmes to provide alternative avenues for these children to develop these essential skills.

#3 Rising Cost of Higher Education

Education has not been spared, with consumer prices increasing steadily over the years. 

Singapore’s average annual education inflation rate from 2001 to 2021 was 2.87%. Higher education, specifically polytechnic diploma fees, rose 20% between 2015 and 2022. The average cost of a 3-year polytechnic education is close to $37,000. (MOE 2022)

Although statistics show that a polytechnic graduate earns 1.4 times more than an ITE graduate, many students will not choose to study at a polytechnic. One reason for this is due to the high school fees. Those who do may drop out of school for the same reason. 

Even with existing public financial aid programmes, students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds still struggle to pay their school and living expenses. More financial assistance from the private sector, in the form of pocket money, bursaries, or scholarships, will help these students bolster the shortfall in higher education expenses.

#4 Lack of Integration

For the special needs community, a critical piece that is sorely lacking is inclusivity. Special education schools are separate from mainstream schools in Singapore, and students do not intermingle.  However, research shows that special needs children benefit from interacting with peers with stronger academic abilities. This benefit goes both ways, as children who have interacted with people with special needs from young develop greater empathy and respect for diversity. (Association for Psychological Science, 2014).

This is a strong push for special education and mainstream schools to work together to create opportunities for meaningful interaction between their students. Children with disabilities are given a chance to develop their potential and thrive in the same environment as their peers.

Funding is required to beef up resources, training and partnerships to facilitate exchange among educators from different backgrounds. We could achieve greater harmonisation across mainstream primary schools, special education, pre-schools and early intervention sectors. An inclusive educational environment would offer a curriculum that caters to different needs, paces of learning as well as provide the facilities and resources required.

Other than school, these children tend to spend less time in public spaces or in recreational activities. Sometimes it is due to practical reasons like access difficulties, which is a great pity as they miss out on opportunities to connect to the larger community. Funding can be directed towards the intentional design of public spaces, sports, and cultural activities so that those with special needs can feel that they are truly a part of society.

Do more with your giving—how CFS can help

To enable every child to shine to their fullest potential and better support the disadvantaged, CFS can help you make a positive impact by aligning your donations with the needs of this community. 

CFS is a cause-neutral organisation that enables us to support grant-making to a wide range of charitable areas that match the donors’ interests and uplift diverse communities in Singapore. These charitable areas include children, youth, education, families, seniors, persons with disabilities, sports, health, animal welfare, environment to arts and heritage.

We partner with charities that focus on clearly identified problem areas or social gaps which might be under-supported. Charities must also demonstrate measurable outcomes and good stewardship of funds.

A simple and 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 which 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 two times.

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

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News

Bank of Singapore partners Community Foundation of Singapore to provide clients with philanthropy services

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Bank of Singapore, the private banking subsidiary of OCBC Bank, has partnered with non-profit organisation Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) to provide its clients with philanthropic services. 

 With this partnership, CFS will work with the bank’s clients to translate their interests, values and goals into philanthropic strategies that meet giving goals of the clients and match the needs of the local community. To develop these strategic giving plans, CFS will use insights from its Charities and Grants team and consult its philanthropy advisors.

In a press release on Monday (May 23), Bank of Singapore stated that the partnership comes at an “opportune time” as philanthropic activities amongst ultra-high and high net worth individuals are on the rise. 

Headquartered in Singapore, the bank serves high net worth individuals and wealthy families markets of Southeast Asia, Greater China, Philippines, India Sub-Continent and other international markets. 

Based on statistics from Knight Frank, 54 per cent of global family offices, a strategic client segment that the bank is focused on building, were increasing their philanthropic activity in 2021. 

Bahren Shaari, chief executive officer of Bank of Singapore, believes that CFS’ expertise and insights into Singapore’s charitable landscape will help the bank’s clients to map out charitable-giving goals that align with their values and ambitions.

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

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