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Media release: Community Foundation of Singapore celebrates 10th anniversary
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Media release: Community Foundation of Singapore celebrates 10th anniversary

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10 Years From giving to impact graphic
  • Over S$60 million in grants have been disbursed by the foundation, which now manages more than 110 funds.
  • Collaboration, legacy, and impact to be of focus in the coming years.

September 5, 2018 – The Community Foundation of Singapore (“CFS” or the “Foundation”) turns10 this year and marked the milestone with a celebratory event at the Arts House today. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu was the guest of honour at the event, which was also attended by more than 120 guests comprising donors, charities and other partners.

More than 110 charitable funds have been established with CFS since its inception in 2008. Over the past decade, it has raised more than S$100 million in donations and given out grants amounting to around S$60 million to over 400 charity partners that support a wide range of causes. These include animal welfare, arts and heritage, children, education, the environment, families, health, persons with disabilities, seniors, sports and youth. This puts CFS in good stead to help donors identify gaps and opportunities in the ecosystem, undertake due diligence on charities, and manage grants with a high degree of accountability to deliver lasting benefit.

“As an organisation known for its community knowledge, professionalism and strategic approach to giving, CFS has much to be proud of after a decade in the philanthropy sector. Singapore has progressed rapidly but the social challenges we face – from an ageing population to social inequality – have become more complex and interconnected. While the government tackles social issues on a large scale, there are gaps and needs that are in need of more support. It’s crucial for philanthropy to evolve to tackle these diverse issues within our community innovatively. By staying close to the evolving needs of diverse communities, CFS is able to consider the well-being of the community from multiple dimensions,” said Catherine Loh, Chief Executive Officer, CFS.

Collaboration is becoming increasingly important as it is impossible for a single player or the government to solve current social issues alone, given their complexity, scale, and scope. With collaborative partnerships, however, like-minded stakeholders can leverage their shared expertise, resources and skills to bring about change more effectively. In this spirit, CFS has partnered the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre to launch Colabs, a joint initiative that drives collaboration by bringing together philanthropists, businesses, non-profit organisations and sector experts to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and co-create solutions. Colabs recently released a guide that provides practical ways to help disadvantaged young persons in Singapore, following a series of roundtable talks and workshops attended by more than 100 representatives from 56 stakeholders with interests in this area.

Legacy is not only financial in nature, but also comprises personal and/or business values that are inculcated in children and handed down from generation to generation. With this in mind, CFS inspires donors to live generously and contribute to society in meaningful ways, giving in whatever capacity they can, regardless of the stage of life they are at. This resonates with donors, and more individuals are thinking about philanthropy even before they retire. Accordingly, the age profile of donors who set up individual funds with the foundation has evolved, with the proportion of donors doing so under the age of 50 increasing over the past decade. At the time of CFS’s inception in 2008, 14%* of donors were under 50. This percentage has since risen, with 40%* of all donors working with the foundation now being under 50 at the time their funds were established.

Moving forward, there will be an increasing focus on better assessing the impact of philanthropic initiatives on the community. To this end, CFS hopes to encourage more charity partners to incorporate output and outcome tracking in their programmes, taking both quantitative and qualitative measures into consideration.

*Based on the cumulative number of people who have set up individual donor funds, excluding corporate or collective funds. Some individual donor funds are established by couples and family members.

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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

Business Times: UBS, CampVision mentor 100 youths

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Group of people posing with President Halimah Yacob

President Halimah Yacob presented 100 youths with certificates after they graduated from the UBS-CampVision Lead Academy programme last Saturday.

The Lead programme partners youths with volunteer mentors from UBS to help them develop effective communication skills and self-leadership. The bank also engages executive leadership coaches to facilitate the learning process.

The programme is made up of 11 sessions conducted over six months. In addition to skills training, both youths and volunteer mentors are guided to develop and achieve personal goals relating to communication or self-leadership.

Since 2014, more than 230 UBS staff and 700 youths have participated in UBS-CampVision related events.

This year, over 40 volunteer mentors partnered 100 youths, aged 13 to 16 years, from seven schools.

“At UBS Singapore, we believe that we have a responsibility to the local community and we are honoured to help groom Singapore’s next generation through the Lead programme,” said Teo Say Lie, the country operating officer of UBS Singapore.

The UBS-CampVision Lead Academy is the cornerstone of UBS’ youth engagement efforts throughout the year.

Among the highlights are the Race Around the Marina Bay team-building event in January for underprivileged youths, which lets them learn about teamwork and leadership.

The Community Foundation of Singapore also helps to facilitate the partnership between UBS and CampVision, as well as the development of the Lead programme.
Read more.

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

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

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

 

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

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

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

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

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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

Business Times: As they received, they now give

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A snapshot of a newspaper Business Times: As they received, they now give

Education is a force for good and a cause that Trina Liang-Lin and Edmund Lin are passionate about supporting.

Education has been pivotal in both their lives, paving stones to their successful careers. Ms Liang-Lin, 47, is the managing director of investment research consulting firm Templebridge Investments, and married to Mr Lin, 49, partner and founding member of Bain & Company’s Singapore office.

She is known for her passion for women’s empowerment. The past-president of the Singapore Committee for UN Women sits on the boards of several non-profits including the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations and Victoria Junior College. He has devoted time and expertise to the Singapore Management University (SMU), serving on its boards.

“Both of us, we see education as the ultimate leveller. We saw it in both our lives,” says Ms Liang-Lin.

A giving shaped by education
Thinking back to her days as a St Joseph’s Convent schoolgirl, Ms Liang-Lin recalls walking through the school compound each morning, climbing the flight of stairs to the school hall and seeing a bronze plaque bearing the name of philanthropist Tan Kah Kee who had given money to build that hall.

“It made an impression on me,” she says, that someone with no obvious ties to the school and its students would decide to give. For that school still means much to her today. It was where some of her deepest friendships were forged.

That plaque led her to notice similar plaques elsewhere, such as a list of donors and their donations towards the building of what is today’s Singapore Art Museum. The three-digit figures seem insignificant now, yet, helped raise buildings of such significance. “It impressed upon me that for a sum like that you can leave such an important legacy,” says Ms Liang-Lin.

Later, she would receive a scholarship to study abroad – an opportunity that would have been out of reach without a scholarship. “It did change my life,” she says.

Education, and the generosity of others, changed Mr Lin’s life too.

His parents arrived in the United States as struggling graduate students from Taiwan and Hong Kong. But they were shown hospitality and care. Mr Lin remembers one American couple that looked out for his mother, offered their backyard as a venue for his parents’ wedding, and then hosted his family for numerous Thanksgiving dinners.

“From a young age, I always felt that my parents, my brother and I all benefitted from the kindness of others,” he says.

His parents’ education was a gateway to a comfortable life in the U.S. for their family. And eventually, Mr Lin himself was awarded scholarships that secured him a high-quality college education without any financial burden.

How much is enough?
The couple acknowledge that the volunteering they did during their college years – Ms Liang-Lin served at nursing homes while Mr Lin volunteered as a mentor at college and with San Francisco’s Chinatown YMCA – came to a halt when they first joined the workforce in demanding jobs.

Their 20s were intensely focused on work and establishing their careers. “It was really more in our early to mid-30s that we said, okay, we’re at a certain level of accomplishment and comfort. Now is a good time to have a more purposeful life,” says Mr Lin.

One question they had discussed, Ms Liang-Lin says, was: how much is enough? “I think the secret of success in a lifetime is knowing when enough is enough for you.”

“Enough” is not about an amount, nor a specific age. “It is very different from person to person, family to family, but it’s a state of mind – that you feel you are content and it is now time to give back to the society that allowed you to become who you are,” she says.

And so, they began giving their time and resources.

Six years into working life, Ms Liang-Lin helped found the Financial Women’s Association Singapore to provide women in finance with a support network. The association soon searched for charities to support, kicking off her philanthropic work in earnest. Mr Lin too, began contributing his time and expertise, starting with SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business Advisory Board and subsequently joining the SMU Board of Trustees.

And as a couple, they began giving to causes they felt strongly about: education, gender equality, animal welfare and the arts.

The multiplier effect of structured giving
It was while they were looking for a meaningful way to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary that Ms Liang-Lin and Mr Lin began to mull over taking things a step further to formalise their giving.

“We spoke with Mr Teng Ngiek Lian of the Silent Foundation, who encouraged us to start our philanthropy journey now, rather than wait. He also gave us a better sense of what was needed to set up a private foundation – staffing, resources, expertise and governance,” says Ms Liang-Lin.

They also had a serious chat with Laurence Lien, chairman of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), and eventually decided to set up the Lin Foundation, a fund managed by CFS, with an initial six-figure sum.

“As busy professionals and younger philanthropists, CFS saves us the work and resources needed to set up our Lin Foundation. CFS provides us with philanthropy management and grant-making expertise, ensuring that our grants are effective and meaningful,” says Ms Liang-Lin.

Other draws were how CFS works with a broad range of charities, offers donors a structured charitable vehicle that provides relevant tax deductions on donations, and, importantly, offers the flexibility to grow their fund over time.

Mr Lin cites the Lin Foundation’s scholarship for SMU students lacking the finances to pursue a semester abroad, as one initiative that could be scaled up. “CFS helped us with the selection of candidates, disbursement, administration, etcetera. I can imagine, with the help of CFS, expanding on homegrown initiatives like this, scaling them up.”

They may have chosen to set up their foundation at a relatively young age, but Ms Liang-Lin believes they are a part of a growing trend.

“Increasingly, people are realising that they don’t have to wait till they are older and richer to give back and make an impact. The proliferation of new media platforms is reshaping attitudes and approaches to giving. There is a growing awareness of social problems, and how these can be tackled by contributing funding support, knowledge and expertise,” she says.

To Mr Lin, giving adds much to his life. “Giving creates for me a lot of meaning in my life. The pursuit of economic goals will only take you so far. The time one spends giving back to a community creates great energy. Yes, it takes time. But this is time that creates more energy and the capacity to do more.”

And, he likes being able to give together with his wife. “We both, professionally, have quite a lot going on. But this is one thing we can share, do together, and find great pride and meaning in.”

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings 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

Reading Odyssey – Building confidence and motivation through reading

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John Doe
Children sitting in a circle, engrossed in a book, fostering a love for reading and learning together.

With recent changes to school-based assessments in primary schools, Singapore’s education system is looking beyond mere academic results to appreciate the importance of the joy of learning. In this vein, Reading Odyssey – a community-based project by Educational Psychology Service, SHINE Children & Youth Services – has been empowering disadvantaged children to enjoy reading with meaning, knowledge and understanding via this novel programme since 2013.

Supported by multiple donors from the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), Reading Odyssey currently collaborates with various community partners to run in seven centres across Singapore and serves 120 children from Kindergarten Two to Primary Six, many from lower income families. “Many of these children are two to three years behind their peers in their reading abilities and have limited learning support and exposure. They usually have low confidence and a poor academic self-image,” says Magdalen Loh, Reading Odyssey Captain and Lead Learning Specialist.

One of the root causes, adds Magdalen, is lack of exposure. Due to complex issues in their family backgrounds, these children do not have wide learning opportunities, or have difficulties accessing help.

Unlike academically-focused tuition centres, Reading Odyssey focuses on inspiring interest in reading and offering opportunities for exposure and building confidence. Another key objective is to help children understand the meaning of words and knowledge. Here, reading is used as a tool to expose the child to the wider world. Genres are intentionally varied; children are exposed to topics, from robotics to the environment, that may be beyond their scope of interests. Materials are targeted to each child’s ability, and the programme incorporates a guided reading approach involving helpful guided questions for volunteers and children to discuss.

Improving a child’s confidence and inner motivation may not be an easy task, but with time and dedication, the programme has seen rewarding results. In the past years, more than 70% of participants showed an increase in confidence from observable behaviours across its centres, and more than half showed improvements in their reading age or reading levels. “Many of the children are motivated to come regularly. They want to learn more once they know they have improved,” says Magdalen.

Part of the programme’s success is due to its volunteer-driven model and close partnership with the local communities to identify those in need. Each child is matched one-on-one with a trained volunteer, who partners the child to work purposefully through the text and stories. Such exposure and engagement, says Magdalen, helps build confidence and increases their understanding of the different topics.

“With confidence in learning, even if you are a weaker student, you dare to approach someone older and not feel embarrassed. With inner confidence and motivation, you will find ways to help you improve,” she expresses.

With increased demand from the ground, Reading Odyssey is looking to scale its centres from seven to ten by 2021, and increase its reach by 50% to 180 children. Plans in the works include formalising its volunteer training, events to deepen a sense of its community and developing new games and testing tools to enhance the programme’s impact.

Ultimately, the goal is to offer an avenue for disadvantaged children to access opportunities beyond their personal circumstance. Magdalen expresses, “We want to do our part to use stories to help children ask questions and think about the wider world. When their motivation is innate, they can help themselves in the long run.”

Photos: SHINE Children & Youth Services

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

Homeless during the pandemic: how our Sayang Sayang Fund responded with agility

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John Doe
a homeless person sitting on the ground

When Singapore locked down during the pandemic, homelessness became a visible, urgent issue. Cross-border commuters and people that had lost their housing due to irregular income or family conflict joined the rough sleepers who scrape by on the margins of our society.

But with any crisis, there is an opportunity to make things better. In this instance, the authorities and social service organisations moved quickly, joining forces to provide temporary shelters. “The rapid expansion of overnight shelter capacity – from around 60 places at the start of 2020 to a peak of 920 during the circuit breaker – was a considerable feat and evidence of what can be achieved with bureaucratic will and an active civil society,” notes a new study called Seeking shelter: Homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore.

Conducted by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), this landmark study was funded by the Community Foundation of Singapore’s Sayang Sayang Fund(SSF). SSF decided to fund this research project to gain deeper insights into the issue of homelessness and how charities can better meet this critical gap.

The study involved a nationwide street count in 2021 and in-depth interviews and was led by Dr. Ng Kok Hoe, a senior research fellow and head of the Social Inclusion Project at LKYSPP. Dr. Ng and his team found that in 2021, the number of homeless people who took refuge in temporary shelters shot up six-fold to 420 compared to 2019. 

Shelters offer greater safety, protection from the elements, and access to basic amenities. At one point during the circuit breaker, homeless shelters reached capacity. “Homelessness is one of the harshest forms of social exclusion,” the study points out. To be homeless in a pandemic, it adds, is to experience even sharper dislocation and hardship.  

Protecting people living on the streets during a public health crisis was one of the many challenges SSF stepped in to address swiftly. SSF was launched in February 2020 as an emergency Community Impact Fund (CIF) during the early days of Covid-19. It was designed to support frontline and healthcare workers.

Donors responded with overwhelming generosity to our appeal. SSF raised a total of $9.6 million from multiple platforms, tripling our initial target. A campaign on Giving.sg alone raised $1 million in donations from the public. All this helped turn SSF into our largest and most impactful pooled fund to date. 

As the pandemic unfurled, unmet needs among vulnerable groups in Singapore escalated. Our deep understanding of on-the-ground issues and strong relationships with charities and government agencies meant CFS could form strategic partnerships to channel funds to the needy in the fastest and most effective way. 

As part of its SafeSleep@Home initiative, SSF gave a $417,000 grant to four charity partners – AMKFSC Community Services, Good News Community Services, Methodist Welfare Services, and New Hope Community Services. The money covered daily necessities, furnishings, and other costs associated with sheltering over 476 rough sleepers.

As of December 2020, about 10% gained permanent housing. 

“Collaboration and trust are key in times of crisis,” says Joyce Teo, executive director at the Centre for Applied Philanthropy at CFS. Aside from rallying donor support, CFS tapped on its extensive cross-sector network to generate diverse perspectives, allowing SSF and other stakeholders to respond efficiently and collectively to the homelessness dilemma. 

To date, SSF has launched ten programmes. The fund has also worked with 891 grantee organisations and touched the lives of 359,302 beneficiaries. It is a powerful example of how collaborative philanthropy can tackle societal problems with agility. 

“The crisis created opportunities for different stakeholders and built new partnerships. It was also a useful learning curve,” notes Joyce. The learnings from this, plus the research findings from Seeking shelter, put CFS in a better position to deliver services to the homeless. “All these work together to help us build a more resilient community better equipped to deal with future crises,” she adds. 

To learn more about the Sayang Sayang Fund and its impact, please click here.

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.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CFS or its members.

References

Ng, K. H., & Sekhon Atac, J. S. (2022). Seeking shelter: Homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore. Singapore: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. https://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/research/ social-inclusion-project

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