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Charitable funds boost donations in a tough year for giving
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Charitable funds boost donations in a tough year for giving

John Doe
John Doe
"Explore The Straits Times charity news page, highlighting philanthropic efforts and inspiring stories."

SINGAPORE – More wealthy people are setting up charitable funds that give at least six-figure sums to their chosen causes.

There were 143 donor-advised funds set up with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), disbursing $20.2 million to charitable causes in the non-profit organisation’s financial year that ended in March.

This is double the 70 funds giving out $11.7 million in the financial year that ended in March 2015.

Donors pledge at least $200,000 to set up a donor-advised fund with the CFS, which manages the money, advises donors on the various needs in the community and disburses it according to the donor’s wishes.

Its chief executive officer, Ms Catherine Loh, told The Straits Times there is a greater awareness of the CFS’ work and preference to give through donor-advised funds, which allows donors to give in a more informed, structured and sustained manner over time. And donors get to name their fund.

For example, the donated sum can be held at the foundation in perpetuity and invested, with invested returns going to the charitable causes over time.

Ms Loh said more people are also setting up legacy funds, like those in memory of a late loved one, adding to the rise in donor-advised funds. Or donors may set up a fund to be disbursed after their deaths.

So far, the largest sum donated to start a fund has been $24 million, set up by a family in their late father’s name, Ms Loh said without giving more details.

She noted that such funds have been especially needed during the current Covid-19 pandemic, where more people are in need and many charities say donations are falling.

Since February, the CFS’ donor-advised funds have given out about $1.2 million for purposes related to Covid-19, such as topping up phone cards for migrant workers and buying masks for charities caring for seniors.

Many donor-advised funds, however, are set up to give to specific causes that donors and their families care about.

Mr Lien Ber Luen gave $200,000 in 2018 to set up the Lien Shih Sheng Foundation, which gives to educational causes among others, in memory of his late grandfather, the editor-in-chief of Chinese newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau. Mr Lien Shih Sheng was a literary pioneer here, involved in many arts, education and cultural activities, his grandson said.

The Lien Shih Sheng Foundation has funded scholarships at Raffles Institution for children from low-income families and it will also support a new programme to give financial aid to children from underprivileged families to attend preschool regularly.

Mr Lien, who is in his 40s, works in a local asset management firm and is married with two children, said: “He was a doting grandfather and a role model for me. I set up this fund to remember him and to continue his legacy of contributing to the community.”

Like Mr Lien, over half of the funds at the CFS were set up by donors aged between 40 and 60, ranging from working professionals to those with inherited wealth, Ms Loh said.

While supporting education and helping the sick and the poor are evergreen favourites, causes relating to environmental and sustainability issues are also becoming more popular. Donors are also more savvy.

She said: “We have seen donors asking more questions and moving away from just chequebook philanthropy over the years.”

Instead, they are keen to understand the root causes of social problems and to find ways to tackle them, instead of simply handing over their money.

Besides the CFS, the SymAsia Foundation, which is established by private bank Credit Suisse for its clients, also offers donor-advised funds.

The SymAsia Foundation did not reveal the number of such funds, but said its clients “typically make a commitment of $1 million for donations”.

Ms Young Jin Yee, CEO of SymAsia Foundation, added: “I would say no other cause has brought our donors together like the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

She said about a third of its donors from across the Asia-Pacific region have stepped up to alleviate the difficulties brought about by the virus. This includes giving financial aid to students in Singapore whose families were affected by Covid-19, and supporting the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus being jointly developed by the Duke-NUS Medical School and an American pharmaceutical firm.

Source: The Straits Times

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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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Stories Of Impact

Empowering Her Dream: International Women’s Forum Singapore Aids Young Fashion Designer’s Success

John Doe
John Doe
two women standing next to each other

Denise Yeo was juggling two part-time jobs while studying full-time for a degree in Fashion Design & Textiles at LASALLE College of the Arts. So, she was overjoyed when she received an education grant from the International Women’s Forum Singapore (IWF). “The money meant I could divert more time to my studies,” says the 23-year-old student.

Funding her degree has been a struggle. Her father is disabled in both legs and cannot work. Her mother works in a restaurant and Denise’s elder sister, who looks after their father, had to take out a loan from her Central Provident Fund savings to help Denise pay for her tuition fees.

The $4,500 IWF grant has let her cut back on her working hours in her crucial final year. It also helped fund her graduation project – a collection of six looks inspired by the whimsical, playful nature of clowns – which is critical to building a career in fashion. “Fashion involves a lot of money and time,” says Denise, who graduates in April 2023. The financial security allowed her to devote more time to designing her collection and invest in better quality fabric and trimmings.

Denise is already crafting a name as a designer to watch. In 2021, the articulate and talented young lady won the Men’s Folio Designer of the Year competition. She plans to start a brand of her own and pursue a master’s degree and a PhD. Grateful for how the IWF grant positively impacted her, Denise hopes more philanthropic support can be extended to students in the creative arts.

The annual grant came from the IWF Singapore Education Grants Fund, a donor-advised fund (DAF) which IWF set up in 2014 with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS). IWF is an invitation-only network of accomplished women dedicated to advancing women’s leadership and championing gender equality. It strongly believes in nurturing the next generation of women by providing access to education and mentorship.

The IWF Singapore Education Grant aims to support deserving young women in any field, in any educational institution in Singapore. Beneficiaries are typically students between the ages of 17 to 35 who are applying or studying for a diploma or degree at a local polytechnic or university, and who are at risk of dropping out due to financial challenges.

Aside from monetary aid, the grant seeks to equip these students with life skills and guidance on career choices. This is done with the help of the Young Women’s Leadership Connection, a mentorship programme initiated by Mrs Arfat Selvam, Managing Director of law firm Duane Morris and Selvam LLP. For IWF, partnering with CFS has been the ideal way to fulfil its specific philanthropic goals. As Singapore’s only community foundation, CFS is a leader in philanthropy advisory and grantmaking, and will celebrate its 15th year of connecting donors with opportunities to make impact in 2023. Tapping into its deep roots in the community, CFS helped IWF navigate unmet needs in the educational sector, backed by its solid knowledge of local institutes of higher learning and data such as the cost of education.

With the help of CFS, IWF looks for students with grit – those who strive to excel in their chosen field. Beyond that, it also seeks out students with a strong desire to make a difference to their community and who show empathy for the less fortunate. In Denise’s case, what helped her stand apart was her commitment to sustainability.

While working in F&B, she gained an appreciation for managing waste, recycling and thoughtful sourcing of materials. This prompted Denise to weave in elements of eco-consciousness into her designs. She opts for natural fabrics, instead of synthetic ones, and is creating outfits that can be worn in many different ways, to improve their lifespan.

In 2021 alone, the IWF fund supported grants to 31 students in tertiary institutions. Since its inception, the IWF has awarded a total of 143 grants to 127 unique young women from 13 local institutions. Through its long-running generosity and tireless mentoring, the IWF has made a lasting impact on the lives of numerous young women.

Establishing a DAF with CFS is a seamless, cost-effective and flexible way for donors to embark on their very own giving journey. As a one-stop philanthropic centre, CFS tailors each DAF to a donor’s motivations and handles the tax, legal, reporting, governance and fund management requirements. This is all carried out at minimal cost. Backed by 14 years of experience and counting, CFS is honoured to be the leading provider of DAFs in Singapore today.

For more on how CFS can help you on your philanthropic journey, please visit this page.

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News

Let us continue to sayang our community

John Doe
John Doe
Young learners sitting on the classroom floor, participating in educational exercises.

We have been overwhelmed by the generous show of support for our community-driven Sayang Sayang Fund; from private individual and corporate donors who donated to the fund directly or set up their own fund-raising pages, we have far surpassed our initial target.

We have given out transportation vouchers to hospitals and polyclinics and are now looking to support vulnerable communities especially impacted by COVID-19’s precautionary measures.

Like the seven thousand children from low-income families who are now at risk from losing access to meals provided in school with the implementation of home-based learning. That is our focus now.

And that is why the Sayang Sayang Fund remains open: to help make sure no one falls by the wayside during this challenging period.

We aim to achieve this by:

  • Supporting community-based emergency response funds for marginalised communities adversely affected by the COVID-19 situation.
  • Providing innovation solutions and research to better combat COVID-19.
  • Building capabilities that support charities’ operational and/or business continuity processes.

Your heart-warming outpouring of love truly brings to life the community spirit of the Sayang Sayang Fund. Thank you for your continuing support.

*The Sayang Sayang Fund is a community impact fund to care for the vulnerable in our community during times of national crises. To support the Fund, please visit giving.sg or email contactus@cf.org.sg.You can also donate via PayNow. All donations above $50 are tax deductible.

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

The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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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

Eileen Heisman: Donor advised funds are a flexible tool that can adapt to changing giving interests

John Doe
John Doe
A woman confidently delivering a speech at a podium, standing before a sign, conveying her message with conviction and authority.

(Excerpts from a keynote speech by Eileen Heisman, President and CEO, National Philanthropic Trust delivered at the CFS Philanthropy Forum 2019)

When I was here in Singapore a decade ago as part of the Community Foundation of Singapore’s (CFS) international advisory committee, the idea of being involved in the global launch of a community foundation was so exciting to me. Everyone here was really eager to learn. They wanted to have impact. I knew CFS was going to set its own path.

Over 22 years ago, I was sitting in a dark, private cubicle trying to figure out what to do with this brand new charity I was part of. Today, National Philanthropic Trust (NPT) – which is the largest independent donor advised fund (DAF) administrator in the United States – has raised US$13 billion in charitable contributions and currently manages US$7.4 billion in charitable assets. In recent years, we’ve started making global grants of around US$700 million to over 75 countries.

I see a lot of similarities between CFS’s journey and my time in that small cubicle. CFS has raised S$130 million and given away S$70 million. With this incredible talent, opportunity and resources you have here, I believe there’s so much more CFS can grow as a community foundation.

What compels a potential donor to act? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this question throughout my career working with donor advised funds. Just as every person comes to this earth with different gifts and backgrounds, donors have vastly different philanthropic goals. I’ve had the privilege of getting inside the thinking of donors and understanding what excites them about philanthropy. One of the biggest moments in my career at NPT was when a donor from New York City donated US$200 million to us. He was an early adopter and one of those people who saw opportunity.

I like to say donors don’t give to us, they give through us. Donor advised funds are flexible. They are relatively inexpensive. They can meet and adapt to changing interests. If you were interested in a cause when you were younger and that changes as you grow older, you’re not wedded to that particular cause because you can shape the fund according to your preferences. Philanthropy is also about legacy. A DAF is a tool you can spend down over your lifetime or you can pass it down to your children.

It’s one of the reasons why donor DAFs are the fastest growing philanthropic tool in the United States. The number of DAFs has doubled in the US over the last five years. In addition to Singapore, there is growing interest in DAFs in Asia, from China, India, Hong Kong to Japan. As a philanthropic tool, I believe DAFs are going to become more and more popular.

If I had to give a piece of advice to new donors: when you’re getting started with giving through DAFs, it’s important not to overcomplicate the process. Start simple. Find two or three causes you really like. Find one or two good charities in each of those categories, and support those charities over three to five years.

With any social issue, nothing gets solved within one year. In the social sector, we learn about solutions to existing problems from trying new things. Don’t be afraid to fund solutions that are new because it’s the only way we learn. It’s as important to fund failure as it is to fund success.

One of the wonderful things about being part of a community foundation is that it truly is a way to make the world a better place. Doing it with partners and the community’s collective effort makes the journey so much more enjoyable than doing it alone.

Eileen Heisman
President and CEO
National Philanthropic Trust

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

The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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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

S’pore couple plan to leave money to charity after their death in new campaign to promote legacy giving

John Doe
John Doe
A man and woman posing for a photo against a beige background, capturing a joyful moment together.

SINGAPORE – It was their son’s degenerative eye disease that set ophthalmologist Dr Audrey Looi and her neurosurgeon husband Dr Ang Beng Ti on the path of philanthropy.

The couple were devastated around a decade ago to find out that James, now 19, suffers from Stargardt’s which causes progressive vision loss, when he was in primary school.

To make matters worse, there was a serious lack of programmes then to support children with low vision in their educational and other needs, Dr Ang, 51, said.

In 2011, the couple set up the charity iC2 PrepHouse, which teaches children with low vision the skills to cope with daily life and supports them to remain in mainstream schools.

They now plan to leave $200,000 or more in their wills to set up an endowment fund to support the iC2 PrepHouse’s work and to fund scholarships for needy undergraduates of the Singapore Management University (SMU).

James is now a business undergraduate at the SMU. The Angs have two other children, aged 13 and 21.

Dr Looi, 50, said: “So instead of giving it (our wealth) all to our children, we have started thinking about putting aside a part of it for charity. I think we have to be a little less self-focused and to give back to society.

“We told our children that they can contribute to the fund (in future). And I would like to think that our kids can manage without this sum we are giving to charity.

“Long after we are gone, we have this charity that continues to provide help for children with low vision. iC2 PrepHouse is our family legacy.”

The couple are among the donors fronting the “A Greater Gift” campaign in a three-month drive to promote legacy giving that was launched on Tuesday (Nov 24) morning.

The campaign was started by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), a charity which promotes philanthropy here.

Legacy giving is broadly defined as future donations to charity, such as in the form of leaving money or property to charitable causes after one’s death.

Ms Catherine Loh, chief executive of the CFS, said the charity has seen more interest in legacy giving in the past few years, by people from different demographic groups including singles and married couples without children.

However, she added that Singaporeans’ interest in legacy giving lags behind Western societies, noting that it is taboo in Asian cultures to talk about death and even writing wills.

She said it is changing though.

“People think that legacy giving is only for the very rich. But we want to tell people, nothing is too small. We want to change this concept that it’s only for the very rich.

“Another thing people think is that if they give a legacy gift, their children will not have anything. We want to say it’s not an either-or (situation) and they can consider leaving a part of it (their wealth) to charity,” added Ms Loh.

While there are the uber rich who are leaving millions to charity after their death, some charities have also received as little as $10,000 from a person’s estate, she said.

The CFS will provide resources to help charities engage their donors on legacy giving, among its efforts to boost this form of philanthropy here.

Besides the Angs, the other donors who are part of the campaign include MP and lawyer Nadia Ahmad Samdin, 30, and venture capitalist Hian Goh, 46.

In their campaign video, Ms Nadia said she went to school with the help of financial assistance and now wants to help at-risk young people, while Mr Goh wants to create opportunities for innovators to reach their full potential.

Mr Goh is a co-founder of the Asian Food Channel, a pay-television channel now known as the Asian Food Network.

Source: The Straits Times

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”。

admin bluecube
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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.

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