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CFS is 3rd largest philanthropic foundation in Singapore
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CFS is 3rd largest philanthropic foundation in Singapore

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They were immigrants who became titans of industry and philanthropists in their own right. Now the legacies endowed by and named for some of Singapore’s richest tycoons – the Lee, Lien and Shaw foundations – continue to be some of the biggest givers to charity here.

All three were among Singapore’s 10 largest philanthropic foundations, according to a report released last month.

The report found that the 10 spent a total of $189 million in their latest financial year to support a range of causes, from community service to education, to disaster relief.

The study by Soristic Impact Collective, a consultancy firm, said the Lee Foundation, founded by the late rubber tycoon Lee Kong Chian in 1952, topped the list.

In its latest financial year, it spent $52.8 million, of which $52 million was given out in grants and donations.

The Lee Foundation is said to give to a wide variety of causes, including education, healthcare and social services.

Temasek Foundation Innovates, one of six Temasek foundations, was second on the list. In its latest financial year, it had an annual expenditure of $29.2 million, of which $28.6 million was given out in grants and donations, according to the report.

Taking third place was the Community Foundation of Singapore, which spent $23.3 million in its latest financial year. Of the sum, $20.2 million was given out in grants and donations.

Donors pledge at least $200,000 to set up a fund with the foundation, which then manages the money, advises donors on various needs in the community and disburses the funds according to the donors’ wishes.

Ms Pauline Tan, principal consultant of Soristic Impact Collective, said the study is the first to rank philanthropic foundations in Singapore by expenditure.

Ms Tan said that countries like the United States and Britain have reports that rank their top philanthropic foundations, but there was no such research in Singapore.

She said: “Thus, we took on the challenge to work on gathering data to bring more transparency into this sector.

“The research will also be useful for charities in Singapore who can potentially use it to know which philanthropic foundations they can approach for funding.”

The consultancy scoured the annual reports and other public documents of foundations registered as charities with the Commissioner of Charities.

It found 91 philanthropic foundations whose work was funded by the founders’ personal wealth or by donations made by the company that set up the foundation.

Among the 91 foundations, 55 were set up by individuals or families and 20 were started by companies. The rest include other set-ups like The Hokkien Foundation and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

About a third of the 91 foundations spent at least $1 million in their latest financial year – this could be from 2018 to last year, depending on the foundation. The rest of the foundations spent less than $1 million.

Ms Tan said the foundations’ expenditure included grants and donations as well as manpower costs and other expenses to carry out the philanthropic work.

The report stated: “Philanthropic giving through foundations is set to grow as more wealthy individuals and companies set up foundations.

“Hence, the influence and role of philanthropic foundations in addressing needs in the community is set to grow.”

To make an impact with your giving, read more 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

The power of the collective: CapitaLand Hope Foundation joins hands with AIC and CFS to bring cheer to seniors

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How do you combat loneliness among older folk? The FUN! Fund – a partnership between Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) – hopes to do this by piloting activities that encourage play, generate laughter and build connections. It’s a fresh approach towards reframing the ageing challenge and a promising effort at collaborative philanthropy.

The brand-new fund has struck a chord with CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand Group. Established in 2005, the foundation seeks to improve the quality of life of seniors. It also aims to nurture and inspire the young and protect the environment for future generations.

“We believe that each older person deserves to live life to the fullest as they age in place and in the community. However, there are vulnerable seniors in the community who face daily life challenges such as mobility difficulties, isolation, and lack of adequate support due to family circumstances,” says Ms Lydia Ang, General Manager of CapitaLand Hope Foundation.

Loneliness is a serious issue for our elderly. It erodes mental and physical well-being and can even reduce lifespans. In mid-2021, a study by the Centre for Ageing Research and Education at Duke-NUS found that those aged 60 and above who see themselves as lonely can expect to live three to five years less compared to their peers who don’t feel lonely. The study, also found that a third of aged 60–69 years and 40% of those aged 80 and above perceived themselves as lonely. Those are sobering statistics indeed.

Two years of living under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions made things much worse. Many older folks stayed home. Being less tech-savvy, they had to grapple with severe social isolation. Those in nursing and care homes saw a stark drop in visitors. Many caregiving staff shows increased burnout and psychological distress in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The FUN! Fund plans to empower community care organisations to collaborate with different stakeholder to develop fun and meaningful activities that seniors can look forward to. There will be development of playbook and post running workshops to share learnings for other organisations to replicate and implement.

CHF got to know about the FUN! Fund through its previous links with AIC and CFS. In 2020, when the pandemic struck, the foundation generously contributed S$700,000 to provide emergency support for community care providers and affected seniors and family members. For CHF, the FUN! Fund dovetails with its efforts to help seniors age in place through its #LoveOurSeniors initiative, which provides the vulnerable elderly with better nutrition, enhanced well-being and improved living conditions.

Tapping on its experience from #LoveOurSeniors, and by working jointly with AIC and CFS, the foundation believes it can help develop innovative programmes that bring cheer to isolated seniors. It also hopes to rally more like-minded partners and the community to join in this effort.

“Through FUN! Fund, multiple donors from different sectors are galvanised to pool and align funding against an agreed set of criteria within a short period of time. This has allowed smaller enterprises to leverage the larger network and platform of FUN! Fund to do good together, as they might not have sufficient resources to effectively contribute to the community on their own,” says Ms Ang.

The FUN! Fund is an example of a pooled fund spearheaded by CFS. Our collective impact funds are designed to raise capital from across the giving spectrum and unite partners to drive positive change. We bring together charities and donors, experience and insights, which amplifies the impact of giving and fosters new solutions.

No individual or organisation can solve complex social issues independently, and private foundations like CHF are embracing collaborative philanthropy. “We believe in the power of the collective, where different stakeholders with respective expertise, knowledge and skills come together as one, leveraging each other’s strengths and resources for the common good. Through the years, we have been rallying our employees, tenants, customers and the wider community to do good together,” says Ms Ang.

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Events

CFS Change Matters Series: Mens, Manus and Machina – How AI Empowers People, Institutions & the City in Singapore

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Charitable Business professionals standing before a screen.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will be a disruptive influence on society, for good as well as ill – and there is a duty to provide a sense of hope, upfront, that humans will be able to prevail.

That was the core message of the inaugural CFS Change Matters Series talk, “Mens, Manus and Machina – How AI Empowers People, Institutions & the City in Singapore”. It was delivered on 21 June 2023 by Professor Jinhua Zhao, Associate Professor of Transportation and City Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“Mens”, “manus” and “machina” are Latin for “mind”, “hand”, and “machine” respectively, and the title plays on MIT’s motto, “mens et manus”. The title of the talk is also the name of a multi-disciplinary collaborative project between MIT and Singapore’s National Research Foundation. The collaboration is co-led by Prof Zhao, and aims to address the following questions:

  1. How will we design technology and train humans to build the skills and habits for human success in a robotics-heavy environment?
  2. How will we adapt our social and business institutions to create the incentives and protections for innovation and human welfare?

In his talk, Prof Zhao shared four key insights into AI.

1. AI will transform, rather than reduce, demand for workers

Enablement, not elimination, of workers

The aftermath of the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) saw the rise of the machine, leading to a major change in the way we worked. This did not, however, reduce overall demand for workers.

Citing economist James Bessen, 1 Prof Zhao noted that the number of ATMs in the USA grew rapidly from the 1970s, when the first ATMs were installed in banks. However, the role of the bank teller was not eliminated, but enabled. Bank tellers now focused on value-added services centered on human interactions, which could not be replaced by ATMs. As such, the number of bank tellers increased.

Employment grows along with automation

While automation has led to displacement and job loss, there has historically not been a fall in overall employment. Increased productivity from automation, as well as the growth of new human desires over time, have created entirely new jobs and industries.

This has led to an overall increase in employment; in fact, the 2018 US Census counted that more than 60% of jobs in 2018 had not yet been “invented” in 1940.

2. AI is not all the same

Expert versus Learning Systems

AI systems generally fall into two categories: expert systems and learning systems.

  • Expert systems rely on predefined rules and a knowledge base to mimic the expertise of specialists.
  • Learning systems, such as machine learning, mimic the way the brain learns and processes information.

Discriminative versus Generative Models

In addition, AI systems mainly adopt either a discriminative or a generative model in relation to their inputs.

  • Discriminative models classify or discriminate between different inputs, based on their features.
  • Generative models learn the patterns and relationships within the data input to generate new samples that resemble the original data.

The ubiquitous ChatGPT, for example, is a Large Language Model, an example of a generative model AI that can produce human-like chat responses.

3. The real impacts of AI on society

AI will replace white-collar jobs, not blue-collar jobs

While the Industrial Revolution replaced manual workers, AI’s superior analytic and generative skills enable it to replace white-collar jobs like office workers and scientists.

For example, a Google-developed AI known as AlphaFold was able to significantly outperform human scientists in the field of protein structure prediction – a feat normally requiring decades of expertise from humans.

As such, it is “highly skilled” white-collar jobs that may be at risk from AI – a concerning proposition for developed economies that depend heavily on these jobs.

The response of social institutions will determine the impacts of AI

The impact of AI does not occur in a vacuum. Tapping the beneficial impacts of AI on living standards depends on how successfully social institutions can take advantage of it. For example, society must continue to be responsible for providing financial safety nets for those displaced by AI, and for caring for seniors who may find it harder to adapt.

These institutions must also respond to not just the economic challenges, but the social challenges of AI. Citing the intellectual Yuval Noah Harari, Prof Zhao noted that generative AI, for example, could destroy the ability for people to have meaningful conversations – and undermine democracy in the process.2

4. Science, government, and individuals can respond to AI productively

Science can help us control AI

Science must solve the alignment problem3 in order to develop beneficial AI – which takes only actions that achieve human objectives and preferences. Otherwise, AI could unintentionally act in a way that is destructive and harmful to humanity.

Governments can educate humans to fill areas that AI cannot

While AI is powerful, it is not superior to humans in all areas. Humans are better than AI at:

  • Creativity: being able to apply knowledge from one area to another area
  • Dexterity: tasks involving manual dexterity
  • Social intelligence: conducting “social negotiations” with humans, such as knowing when it is safe to turn while driving
  • Long-term planning: being able to break long-term plans (e.g. a 5-year plan) into shorter increments

With that in mind, governments should focus education on creativity and communication, as well as critical thinking: the ability to judge, and to ask the right questions. This prepares students to become evaluators, directors and planners, instructing AI to act on their goals.

The role of teachers will also change as AI evolves and becomes deployable at scale as an individual, customized teaching assistant. AI will enhance students’ learning and help teachers understand students; teachers will be tasked with socially engaging, empathizing with, and supervising students, rather than merely delivering content.

Individuals can change their mindsets to be resilient in the face of AI

Finally, the impact of AI, and job displacement, on individuals will not purely be economic. It will be personal as well, given how central work is to our social and emotional lives, and to our sense of purpose.

Individuals can make the following mindset changes, in order to be resilient:

  • Adopting a lifelong learning mindset: this means developing new skills while working, rather than focusing on academic learning as preparation for work.
  • Adopting a flexible mindset: understanding that while change is the new normal, humans have always had the capacity to adapt. This is especially important for youths.

Final thoughts: how philanthropy can respond to AI

Philanthropists reading this may wonder: how do I respond to the challenges posed by AI? CFS is Singapore’s first community foundation, with 15 years of experience and a network of over 400 charity partners. We leverage our experience and grantmaking expertise to identify and evaluate key opportunities for individual and corporate donors to make greater impact.

We think the following giving approaches may be valuable to respond to AI:

  • Supporting seniors to age well in the community, so they remain cared for and are not left behind.
  • Enabling youths to access quality education, through schools and Institutions of Higher Learning, and prepare for the AI-empowered future.
  • Funding efforts to improve employability, so that individuals develop the skills they need to keep working.
  • Ensuring that mental wellbeing is supported, to help individuals build the resilience to cope with changes.
  • Tackling climate and environment issues, to mitigate and adapt to this additional source of negative disruption.

To find out more about CFS and our leading role in Singapore’s philanthropy ecosystem, please click here.

CFS would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to our donors Oliver Kwan and Helen He from the Evergreen Changemaker Fund for their invaluable support and extending the invitation to Prof Zhao, which made this event possible.

References

1 Bessen, James. “Toil and Technology.” Finance & Development 52, no. 1 (March 2015): 16–19. https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2015/03/pdf/bessen.pdf.

2 “Yuval Noah Harari Argues That AI Has Hacked the Operating System of Human Civilisation,” The Economist, April 28, 2023, https://www.economist.com/by-invitation/2023/04/28/yuval-noah-harari-argues-that-ai-has-hacked-the-operating-system-of-human-civilisation.

3 The problem of aligning AI with humans’ objectives and values.

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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

Mediacorp Vasantham: Interview on Ethiroli current affairs programme

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A snippet of an interview of CFS’ CEO Catherine Loh on Mediacorp Vasantham’s Tamil current affair programme

CFS’ CEO Catherine Loh was recently interviewed by Mediacorp Vasantham’s Tamil current affairs programme Ethiroli for her views on philanthropy in Singapore. Catch it on Toggle at http://video.toggle.sg/.toggle.sg/en/video/series/ethiroli-s. The segment on CFS is at the 13:19″ mark.

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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The Asian Parent: Is your bub safe with infant educarers? This carer tells all!

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a malay woman posing for a picture

“Well, all that hard work did not go unnoticed, for Madam Intan was awarded the Leading Foundation Teacher Award (LFTA) last year. For the uninitiated, the Leading Foundation Teacher Award is an initiative by the Leading Foundationwhich supports programmes in education and leadership. It is administered by the Community Foundation of Singapore, a non-profit philanthropic organisation that bridges donors with community needs.

The LFTA recognises passionate and dedicated teachers who have made significant contributions to the care and teaching of children in the fields of early childhood and special needs education.

Madam Intan confides, “I never thought that I would receive a National award and I feel honoured, glad and thankful to those who believed in me and affirmed my role as an infant educator.” Read more.

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