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Meet Singapore’s newer philanthropic foundations: They give millions, seeking to spark social change
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Meet Singapore’s newer philanthropic foundations: They give millions, seeking to spark social change

John Doe
John Doe
picture of lew chee beng and chua thian poh

Lew Chee Beng (left) founded the Lew Foundation in 2015, while Chua Thian Poh and his siblings set up the Chua Foundation in 2015.

Self-made businessman Lew Chee Beng, 73, is giving away a substantial part of his fortune through a foundation. Since he founded the Lew Foundation in 2015, it has donated more than $12 million to charitable causes. Mr Yeo Puay Hin, the foundation’s executive director and Mr Lew’s son-in-law, said of his father-in-law: “He came from humble beginnings, so it’s about gratitude – to give back to society and helping those who are disadvantaged.”

The Lew Foundation was the 16th-largest philanthropic foundation here, giving out $2.8 million in donations in 2019, according to a recent report on the largest foundations here. Mr Lew, who has four children, built his wealth from a range of businesses, such as Soon Huat Goldsmith and pawnshop chain Shing Heng Group. The foundation’s main focus is to help the vulnerable elderly and young people, and it does so through supporting healthcare and social services serving these two groups. For example, it is supporting about five nursing homes, fulfilling Mr Lew’s late mother’s wish of setting up a nursing home.

The Lew Foundation is one of the newer foundations listed in a recent report by Soristic Impact Collective, a consultancy, that shed light on the largest philanthropic foundations here in terms of expenditure. The research found that foundations set up by some of Singapore’s richest men are among the top 10 biggest givers out of the 91 foundations here. The Lee Foundation, founded by the late rubber tycoon Lee Kong Chian in 1952, topped the list, disbursing $52 million in donations in its latest financial year. 

In total, the 91 foundations spent over $264 million in their latest financial year to support a variety of causes, from education and healthcare to people with disabilities and environmental causes. And beyond the big bucks the foundations are giving away, what is noteworthy is that about 40 per cent of the 91 foundations were registered as a charity since 2011, a Straits Times check found.

Soristic’s principal consultant Pauline Tan said the growing number of the very wealthy here and a growing interest in philanthropy are driving the rise in the number of foundations set up in the past decade. There is also a growing ecosystem to support philanthropy, she said.

This includes the Asia Philanthropy Circle, a platform for Asian philanthropists to collaborate and address social problems, and The Majurity Trust, which provides philanthropic advice and grants.

Among those registered as charities in the past decade are corporate foundations, such as Keppel Group’s Keppel Care Foundation and Changi Airport Group’s Changi Foundation. The Keppel Care Foundation was ranked 13th on the Soristic report, while Changi Foundation took the 20th spot.

Then, there are individuals who made good in life who set up foundations in the past decade.

They include the Chua Foundation (29th) and the TL Whang Foundation (57th). Property magnate Chua Thian Poh, founder of Ho Bee Group, and his siblings set up the Chua Foundation in 2015. The TL Whang Foundation, registered as a charity in 2019, was started with donations by Mr Whang Tar Liang and his family. He is the younger of two brothers who built up Lam Soon Group, known for its consumer goods such as the Knife brand cooking oil.

How philanthropy is practised here has changed, with more foundations and donors looking beyond giving out cheques to seeking to create a real impact or bring about social change. Many of them are a lot more invested in the projects they fund, from being involved in the design of the programme to measuring its impact, said those interviewed.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) chief executive Catherine Loh said: “Donors are becoming more focused on strategic philanthropy, as opposed to outright charity. They see their donations as social investments that will bring about social change.”

“As such, they are more willing to provide longer-term support and willing to give a longer time horizon to allow change to occur.”

CFS enables donors who pledge at least $200,000 to set up a donor-advised fund. It manages the money, advises donors on the needs in the community and disburses the funds according to their wishes.

At the Quantedge Foundation, set up in 2015, its three full-time staff engage its community partners and beneficiaries to understand their needs, identify programmes to support, and assess the outcomes achieved.

Mr Suhaimi Zainul-Abidin, the foundation’s director, said: “We believe that philanthropy is uniquely positioned to take on calculated risks with innovative, untested approaches to solving social issues, so as to encourage experimentation by the social sector, demonstrate the viability of new ideas and drive longer-lasting change.”

Senior staff of Quantedge Capital, an investment management firm, donate annually to the Quantedge Foundation – “giving more in years when business is good and bonuses are high, and less in leaner times”, he added.

The foundation’s core focus is improving social mobility.

He said: “If we do not, collectively as a society, recognise that this is an issue that we should pay particular attention to, we may well sleepwalk into a stratified, divided society in the future.”

For example, Quantedge Foundation initiated talks with the Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Technology and Design to co-design and seed-fund an initiative, where financially needy Singaporean students will get a full financial aid package that makes their entire university education tuition free.

It also worked with a charity, Playeum, to pilot a series of science, technology, engineering, arts and maths workshops as an after-school developmental programme for children from lower-income families.

Since it was registered as a charity, the Quantedge Foundation has disbursed $7.4 million in grants and committed to giving another $8 million or so more.

The Soristic report ranked the Quantedge Foundation 22nd on its list, disbursing $2.3 million in grants in 2019.

Mr Suhaimi said: “In today’s knowledge-based, technologically driven capitalist society, the winners win by such a large margin that it is not quite right to keep all the gains without sharing some with the wider community.

“One of our hopes is that wealthy individuals, families and companies will find resonance in what the Quantedge Foundation is doing, and in time, give back to the society in their own way.”

If you have an interest in strategic philanthropy or would like to start a donor-advised fund with us, visit 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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The Straits Times: From school to workplace: Help for disadvantaged youth

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John Doe
Two young people sitting on a couch, engrossed in a box of games, enjoying their leisure time together.

By Rahimah Rashith

2 new programmes offer vocational training and workshops under 3-year ITE initiative

To help disadvantaged youth transition smoothly from school into the work environment, a three-year initiative was launched at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) yesterday to offer them workshops and vocational training.

It is made up of two programmes.

The first, Youth Forte, is offered by Shine Children and Youth Services. It targets 17-to 21-year-olds who are not in school or training and have problems finding work.

They will receive evaluation, individual coaching, employability skills training, internships or project-based experience and vocational training leading to a Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) certification. The programme aims to help young people learn more about various career fields through exposure to the industry. They will also receive individual life coaching.

The second programme, called A.P.T.I.T.U.D.E, is offered by Touch Community Services in partnership with ITE. It works with industry partners to provide students with structured training and certification for a particular job, such as coffee making or outdoor camp facilitation.

Called the Singapore Youth Impact Collective, these programmes come after the social service sector recognised that, while education can help bridge social gaps, environmental factors – such as negative social influences or the home environment – can hinder youth from reaching their full potential.

Changi Foundation, the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), Credit Suisse, Octava Foundation, Shine and Touch are behind the initiatives.

To date, Changi Foundation, Credit Suisse and Octava Foundation have pledged close to $1 million towards the programmes.

CFS deputy chief executive Joyce Teo said the collaboration will help to address the complex social issues facing young people.

Last month, 17-year-old Natasha Chan, a first-year digital animation student from ITE College Central, learnt the art of coffee-making over two days through the Touch programme. She was trained by the Dutch Colony Coffee Co chain and is now thinking of becoming a barista.

“I learnt how to grind coffee beans and brew a cup of coffee,” she said.

“It is a skill I would not be able to pick up in my course. Learning this has widened my skills.”
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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Beyond One-Time Giving: Creating Lasting Impact

John Doe
John Doe
A poster for the Giving Week event, showcasing the spirit of generosity and community involvement.

SG Cares Giving Week (1-7 December) celebrates the spirit of giving. This is the time to share your time, talent, treasure and voice to support causes that you are passionate about, in all ways, big and small.

If you are considering making more lasting contributions that go beyond a single donation, CFS can help you transform your giving. Here are some ways in which you can make giving a sustained way of life:

  1. Get involved in philanthropy by setting up a donor-advised fund
    The philanthropic ecosystem can be a complex terrain to navigate. If you’re considering embarking on a philanthropy journey, setting up a donor-advised fund (DAF) with CFS is an excellent starting point. You could also invite several friends or family members to start a DAF together!Our philanthropy advisors will help you understand the needs of vulnerable groups and how you can make an impact in Singapore. You decide which causes to support and how much funding to provide. We handle the administrative details of grant-making, allowing you to concentrate on making the difference that truly matters to you.

    To learn more about setting up a DAF, visit How to Get Started

  2. Use your time and talent to make a difference
    If you are looking to make an impact with your skills and spare time, volunteering with a non-profit organisation is a great way to do this. At CFS, we are passionate about raising awareness about various causes through a variety of channels. Whether you’re a proficient writer, skilled photographer, or possess other creative abilities, your involvement can help us craft compelling content and engaging multimedia that drives our mission forward.

    You can find out more details here:   Content Writer , Photographer/Videographer

  3. Leave a legacy for future generationsEach of us holds the power to create a lasting legacy by designating a portion of our financial assets in our will or trust. By choosing to leave a legacy gift with CFS, you pave the way for future generations to carry forward your values and aspirations for the community beyond your lifetime. It is a way to ensure that your impact on causes you care about resonates long into the future.

    You can also establish a donor-advised fund in the name of a loved one. A memorial fund is a wonderful way to honour their legacy and continue their work.

    It is never too early to plan your legacy gift. To learn more about legacy giving, visit https://www.legacygiving.sg/

    SG Cares Giving Week is a key initiative of the national SG Cares movement held annually from 1 to 7 December, that celebrates the spirit of giving and seeks to make giving part of our way of life. It is organised by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) in collaboration with SG Cares Office and National Council of Social Service (NCSS). Support the movement at givingweek.sg.
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The Straits Times – More wealthy donors setting up private charity funds

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John Doe
Photo of many levels of HDB corridors

More wealthy people are setting up private charity funds through which they can give away their riches, according to a foundation that helps such individuals set up the funds.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) said it has seen the number of individual donors rise from seven in 2008 to 97 this year. Each of the funds must have at least $200,000.

The benefactors are getting younger, too. There was just one under the age of 50 in 2008 when the foundation was set up, but the number has soared to 39 this year.

The number of charity funds under the foundation’s care rose from seven in 2008 to 110 this year. A charity fund can support several causes over a longer period of time compared to a straight-up, one-time donation to a charity.

Said foundation chairman Laurence Lien: “We observe that donors are not waiting till retirement age to start thinking about philanthropy and giving back.”

The foundation was set up and registered as a charity in 2008 as a vehicle to boost philanthropy among Singapore’s growing number of millionaires. It helps the donors set up the funds, look for suitable beneficiaries and disburse the money over a period of time. The donors get to name their funds and decide what causes to support.

When the foundation started, five donors – three individuals, Swiss Bank UBS AG and the Khoo Foundation – gave $13 million in total to kick off the foundation.

The individuals were property developer Simon Cheong, retired businessman William Bird and businessman Stanley Tan.

The total donations raised by the foundation through these private charity funds crossed the $100 million mark this year.

From 2008 to 2013, the foundation handed out $12 million in grants to about 130 charities. By this year, it gave out five times more money – $60 million – to 400 charities.

Besides donating more money, donors are also asking more questions and getting involved by volunteering in the charities they give to, Mr Lien noted.

“Philanthropists today are increasingly sophisticated,” he said, adding: “They look for more involvement and greater accountability for their donations. They want to find out who they are truly helping and whether programmes can be sustained after funding ends.”

Such donations from wealthy individuals are expected to grow. “We think that there are many latent givers in Singapore – those who want to give more but do not know how, so they end up putting off their giving,” he said.

There are about 152,000 millionaires in Singapore, according to the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s 2017 Global Wealth Report. A millionaire is a person whose net worth – assets minus debt – is worth more than one million dollars.

The trend of more younger people donating to charity is not restricted to millionaires.

The National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the national body that promotes volunteerism and philanthropy, said its survey showed that those between 35 and 44 donate more than those in other age groups.

“The mid-lifers, dubbed as ‘Generation Stretched’, are still giving in spite of the various demands in life,” said NVPC chairman Mildred Tan.

While younger people may be donating more, she added: “We hope to motivate and encourage people to continue giving throughout their lives.”

Read more.

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

Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund – Training and placing marginalised individuals into stable jobs

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John Doe
People in masks and aprons preparing food in a restaurant.

The Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund (CIF) was launched in 2019 by The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), which provides vocational training and socio-emotional support for marginalised individuals in Singapore before placing them into jobs.

CIFs are flagship programmes established by CFS in partnership with charities to address unmet needs or under-supported social issues in Singapore. It takes a ground-up approach to understand the needs of care recipients and outcomes they care about to ensure that they would truly benefit from these programmes.

LIFT is designed to leverage the expertise of social enterprises in terms of job coaching and job matching. These programmes support persons with disabilities, persons recovering from mental illnesses, disadvantaged women and youth-at-risk who face challenges finding jobs and keeping them. 

In partnership with Bettr Barista and Project Dignity, LIFT saw 115 people receiving training at Bettr Barista Coffee Academy or Dignity Kitchen from April 2020 to March 2021. Ninety-one participants completed the training, and of those who had completed the course, 73 people were successfully hired, with 55 managing to remain employed for more than three months.

To support the LIFT Community Impact Fund, visit here. Read the media release here.

 

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
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.

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