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Our CEO Catherine Loh is an honouree of Tatler Asia’s Most Influential 2022
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Our CEO Catherine Loh is an honouree of Tatler Asia’s Most Influential 2022

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Our CEO Catherine Loh is named as one of Asia’s Most Influential 2022 by Tatler Asia – joining the ranks of innovators, industry leaders and trailblazers who are recognised for driving positive change in the region and beyond. Honourees of Tatler Asia’s flagship list have contributed to advancements in public service and governance, technology, education, finance, the arts, and other vital sectors.

Under Catherine’s leadership, CFS galvanises over $250 million from generous donors, manages more than 190 funds and supports 400 non-profit organisations across various causes. Guided by her vision that donors can make meaningful social investments through philanthropy, CFS has been embracing innovative models of giving that are not only impactful, but sustainable as well.

One such innovative model of giving is the Community Impact Fund, which enables philanthropy to tackle the most pressing social issues of our time. During the Covid-19 pandemic, CFS launched the Sayang Sayang Fund, a Community Impact Fund which raised over $10 million to support the emergency needs of various local communities. The Fund continues to give back to the community by providing emergency response to supporting ground-up initiatives and social organisations that create positive and long-term changes.

At CFS, we recognise that social needs and donor expectations are constantly evolving. In order to bring greater impact to communities in need, we have to become more innovative in the types of giving we offer while ensuring their sustainability and maintaining the trust the wider community has in us.

We want to thank the management and editorial team of Tatler Asia for the recognition.

Read Catherine’s feature in Tatler Asia at https://www.tatlerasia.com/people/catherine-loh.

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News

National Legacy Giving initiative to inspire philanthropic culture in Singapore

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The three-year national Legacy Giving Initiative aims to make planned gifts more common and frequent as another avenue for Singaporeans to make their giving meaningful.

Private philanthropy has an important role to play in providing much needed support for the community. The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) kicks off this initiative today with “A Greater Gift” campaign, to boost awareness and drive conversations for legacy giving and its value to the community.

According to a Social Pulse Survey 1, there is a disconnect between awareness and action when it comes to legacy giving. While the majority of respondents (83%) flagged awareness on what legacy giving is, only 33 per cent is considering legacy as a means of giving, but only 3 per cent would take action.

CFS’ “A Greater Gift’’ campaign, which is digitally-led, will run over the next three months, inviting individuals, professional advisors, and charities to consider ways a legacy gift can provide meaningful support and leave a lasting impact. As part of the campaign, CFS has partnered with ambassadors to highlight the causes they support, capturing what inspired their interests in a particular cause and the legacy they wish to leave.

Going forward, CFS will work with professional advisors by providing them with resources to help them ignite conversations with clients. We will support charities, especially the smaller ones, which may not be equipped to engage legacy donors.

Legacy gifts can be broadly defined as planned, future donations to charities. While up to the individual, the gift can be cash, marketable securities, insurance payouts, CPF monies and marketable assets. Individuals looking to support a cause over a period of years can establish a donor-advised fund (DAF) with CFS, to manage grant distributions

CFS was selected to lead the Legacy Giving Initiative with its strong track record and deep experience in advisory and grant making. As a neutral entity not attached to a specific cause, CFS complements the philanthropy landscape by bridging donor intentions to causes and charities.

Mr. Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law said, “Legacy giving enables Singaporeans to leave a lasting and meaningful gift to society. We hope that more Singaporeans will consider planning their donations for the future, as it can help support our charities, and spread the spirit of SG Cares across generations. Thank you to the Community Foundation of Singapore for leading the Legacy Giving Initiative, and encouraging Singaporeans to contribute to a more caring and inclusive society.”

CFS Brand Ambassadors

  • Dr. Audrey Looi and Dr. Ang Beng Ti – An eye specialist and neurosurgeon respectively, this husband and wife duo have made it their mission to equip children with low-vision with skills and resources. After personally experiencing a gap in supporting their son who has a degenerative eye disorder, they committed to supporting the visually impaired via iC2 PrepHouse.
  • Nadia Ahmad Samdin – A lawyer whose own personal journey of receiving financial assistance in school has led her to championing support for at-risk youth and their families, who will particularly benefit from having steady care.
  • Dipa Swaminathan – A lawyer and TEDx speaker, her passion to improve the welfare of migrant workers here has led her to set up social initiative ItsRainingRaincoats in 2015, which has especially increased society’s kindness and compassion for this community at the height of the pandemic.
  • Hian Goh – An entrepreneur and venture capitalist who wants to contribute to the future of society by identifying the next big game-changers and creating opportunities for innovators to reach their full potential.
  • Kris Tan – A philanthropist dedicated to empowering the arts in Singapore. She set up a charitable fund with CFS, Kris Foundation, in 2009 to support young classical musicians in Singapore and will expand it to the wider arts community.

About Legacy Giving

The legacy giving campaign is part of a three-year Legacy Giving Initiative (LGI). This campaign will highlight that everyone can contribute to the community through a legacy gift, either through CFS or directly to a charity. The LGI will build awareness by helping individuals understand the ways to give and the value of planned gifts to charity. It will also support professional advisors working with clients and charities engaging their donors in philanthropy conversations. CFS is well placed to drive this initiative.

As Singapore’s only community foundation, it is a neutral philanthropy resource with experience in grantmaking advisory. Visit legacygiving.sg

1The Social Pulse Survey was started in 2016 as an on-going survey carried out by The Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) to gather Singaporeans’ opinions and involvement with regard to matters such as sports, arts, culture and community living. Each month, about 500 interviews are conducted face-to-face with randomly selected households, and residents aged 15 and over across Singapore. The survey sample is representative of Singapore’s resident population.

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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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Opinion

Three donor trends shaping giving in 2020 and beyond

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An Asian woman (Catherine) gracefully seated on a vibrant red and black couch, exuding elegance and poise.

Widening social inequality, an ageing population, and climate change – these are the issues that frame our world, as Singapore celebrates its bicentennial year in 2019. Yet alongside these social challenges, we’re also reminded of our long history of philanthropy in tackling local community needs. Take for instance, the recent 200 Years of Philanthropy in Singapore at the Temasek Shophouse, where it was heartening to see philanthropy being celebrated as a vital thread in Singapore’s success story.

But how will local donors continue to contribute to Singapore’s future? With the number of high-net-worth individuals here expected to grow by 22% to 250,000 by 2023, philanthropy is at an inflection point. We’ve already seeing broader shifts in our donor landscape: donors are getting younger; more Singaporeans are becoming socially aware, and technology is empowering new modes of giving.

At CFS, we count it as our privilege to be able to observe and nurture a new generation of donors increasingly empowered to drive social change. In this final edition of Change Matters for 2019, we highlight three donor trends we believe will continue to shape giving in 2020 and beyond:

Giving together is gaining traction

As more people recognise the complexity of social issues and the need for many helping hands, giving together is fast gaining traction. Donors are beginning to understand that collaboration enables them to create an impact larger than what they can achieve as individuals. In this edition, be the first to read about the Mind the Gap 200 fund or MtG200. This exciting ground-up initiative is the first collective of 10 donor advised funds formed by private individuals, which seeks to address social gaps in multiple sectors in Singapore.

More women are getting engaged in philanthropy

In 2009, only 14% of CFS’s donor funds were started by female donors. This percentage has risen by more than four times to 65% in 2017 and 2018. As more women become empowered to give, they will continue to give to causes close to their hearts. In this issue, we’re delighted to highlight the work of the International Women’s Forum Singapore (IWF)With CFS’s facilitation, IWF supports young women from financially-challenged backgrounds through their tertiary education through an education grant and a mentorship programme.

Donors are asking more questions for deeper understanding

Finally, donors are becoming more interested in understanding the root causes of issues to better inform their giving. They are more willing to explore opportunities to gain deeper insights from service providers, or contribute their expertise to co-create solutions. In this issue, read about our three Seniors Colabs learning journeys (Cornerstone Community Services (with Empower Ageing)Wellness Kampong and St Theresa’s Home), where participants discussed and exchanged views on how society can help our seniors age well.

Catherine Loh

CEO, Community Foundation of Singapore

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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

Lianhe Zaobao: Nathan Social Work Award open for applications from Nanyang Polytechnic students

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纳丹教育提升基金”惠及人数及拨出金额多年来稳定增长,今年还为南洋理工学院社工系的学生增设助学金。

该基金是已故前总统纳丹在2011年9月19日推出回忆录《万想不到的征程——当上总统之路》时设立的,目的是帮助家庭经济有困难的学生获得良好教育。

截至今年7月7日,该基金已拨出270万元,比去年同期的260万元多出了10万元。

自基金成立以来,共有1129名学生从中受惠,这与去年同期的近1000名相比,增加了15%。受惠者包括工艺教育学院、理工学院及大学学生,其中还有一些经济条件较差的前罪犯。

该基金通过教育和技能培训为他们提供支援。

另外,该基金今年增设“纳丹社工助学金”(S R Nathan Social Work Award),以纪念纳丹为社工领域留下的精神遗产。

纳丹毕业于设在新加坡的马来亚大学,以特优成绩考获社会学文凭,并在上世纪50年代担任医疗社工和海员福利官。他也在晚年时设立新加坡福利理事会,这个组织是国家福利理事会的前身,目前旗下有超过400个志愿福利团体。

“纳丹社工助学金”包含三个价值1500元的助学金,每年颁发给就读于南洋理工学院社会科学(社工)专业文凭课程、经济上有需要的学生。

助学金旨在帮助减轻这些学生的经济负担,让他们能专心完成学业。首批三名助学金得主将在今年12月公布。Read more.

Translation:
Nathan Social Work Award open for applications from Nanyang Polytechnic students

The S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund was launched on 19 September 2011 in conjunction with the publication of the late Mr Nathan’s memoirs, “An Unexpected Journey”.

Total amount disbursed since inception: S$2.7m compared to S$2.6m from the same period last year.
Total number of students the fund has supported since inception: 1,129. About 15% increase from the same period last year, where almost 1,000 students were beneficiaries.

The S R Nathan Social Work Award set up to honour Mr. Nathan and his legacy in the social work sector.
He graduated with a Diploma in Social Work from the University of Malaya and was a medical social worker and seaman’s welfare officer in the 1950s. In his later years, he also helped to set up the Singapore Council of Social Service, the predecessor of the National Council of Social Service which now oversees over 400 voluntary welfare organisations in Singapore.

The award comprises three bursary awards worth S$1,500 each, which will be presented annually to financially needy students in NYP’s Sciences (Social Work) course. First recipients of the award will be announced in December 2017.

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Stories Of Impact

Heart Of Goodness: The Vocal Prowess Of Stefanie Yuen Thio

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She stands out for her irreverence. Her saucy humour. Her no-holds-barred views on a gamut of issues from cryptocurrencies to shady KTV business owners. However, right now, flanked by vibrant Pop Art in her living room and two energetic dogs, Stefanie Yuen Thio is in “pensive mode”. In fact, she is downright disturbed.

As part of the Singapore Together Alliance for Action (AfA) to tackle types of online harm, the corporate lawyer has just come from a discussion about the growing harassment women face. “It’s not just sexual grooming and revenge porn,” she says. “Women, more than men, face a higher incidence of gender-based abuse on the internet such as cyberstalking, trolling and violent threats, and teenage girls are even more vulnerable. 

“We need to take a stand. It’s time the community took control,” she says. AfA is a government-led initiative, tapping youths, tech companies and academics, as well as corporate figures such as Yuen Thio, to come up with ways to make the online world a safer space. Foremost is to raise public awareness of the need for it, as victims typically have little idea what to do. 

Other goals are to create a code of best practice, to offer assistance and to scrutinise how social media is shaping online behaviour as well as mental wellness. A recent study from Nanyang Technological University, for example, found that the more time we spend on Facebook, the greater our risk of suffering from depression. 

A Voice For The Underprivileged

Yuen Thio knows well how social media can define us. Her voice is regularly heard on LinkedIn, where she has over 13,000 followers and was ranked one of Singapore’s top voices in 2020. She can also be heard on the BBC, where she is a guest commentator. Her tongue-in-cheek posts can be uninhibited, sometimes raising eyebrows and drawing flak. But this is not distracting Yuen Thio, who is clearly comfortable marching to the beat of her own drum, from championing the causes she believes in and sparking conversations that could galvanise change.

The online harms alliance, launched in July, is the latest of Yuen Thio’s advocacy work outside of her day job as joint managing partner at TSMP Law Corporation, a boutique corporate-law practice. She is also bringing her energy and savvy to the pandemic’s exigencies: as Singapore battled Covid-19, she has been driving efforts to help frontline workers and those hard hit by the cratering of the economy. 

“I read a story about an ambulance driver who was turned away from a chicken rice stall and about nurses who could not get a taxi home,” she says. It dredged up memories of SARS, when hospital staff were shunned during the 2003 outbreak for fear of them somehow carrying the virus. “I thought f— that! We’re not doing that again,” she says.

Empowering Others To Help

So, early on in the crisis, she helped put in motion the Sayang Sayang Fund with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), a nonprofit that promotes philanthropy. Yuen Thio, who sits on the board of CFS, seeded the fund with a $20,000 gift. Managed by CFS, the Sayang Sayang Fund has since ballooned to over $9.6 million and supported more than 359,302 people in the Republic. 

Her law firm, too, has stepped up. With many of its staff working remotely via laptops, TSMP is donating unused desktops to the needy. The firm, which sets aside 10 per cent of annual profits for charitable giving, has been sponsoring meals and care packs for hospital workers. And, in Cheng San-Seletar constituency — its MP is Nadia Ahmad Samdin, a former TSMP lawyer — its staff have befriended and accompanied seniors to get vaccinations. 

This hands-on volunteering is in addition to the pro bono work the firm does. All its lawyers are encouraged to do 25 hours per year, to improve access to justice for the under-served. The firm takes a special interest in cases where migrant workers are treated badly and works with groundup initiatives such as Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, Transient Workers Count Too and It’s Raining Raincoats

Yuen Thio, who was an advisory board member for the NUS Centre for Pro Bono & Clinical Legal Education from 2018 to 2020, recalls a tea that TSMP organised for foreign domestic workers. “We talked about their rights. And so many of them cried because nobody had ever looked at them with much humanity,” she says.

The Law Firm That Gives

The firm has also established the TSMP Law Foundation to allow more structured giving, something Yuen Thio is hoping to prod more wealthy Singaporeans into doing. With husband Thio Shen Yi, who co-founded TSMP with his mother, the couple has created a #GivingBack Foundation through CFS, which helps individuals set up and manage funds and grants. The foundation also works with over 400 charity partners in Singapore. 

Through these plans, she hopes philanthropy will be less ad hoc and will become more a part of the Singaporean DNA. As part of their legacy gifting outreach, for instance, CFS is encouraging everyone to leave something in their wills to charity, be it properties, equities, art or wine. But beyond that, she wants Singaporeans to start on their philanthropic path earlier in life. 

“Charity should start early and not only after you die,” says Yuen Thio. CFS can help set up foundations within as little as 24 hours and is reaching out to the well-off through private bankers and family offices. 

She also advocates getting the next generation involved to further institutionalise giving. “The tragedy of this generation is a sense of purposelessness. There are too many safety nets,” reckons Yuen Thio, who has a son studying in London. 

However, she notes that the youth of today also have an altruistic streak and can be swayed by causes such as climate change and social inclusion. Their motivations, compared to “my generation whose goal was to make money first”, will undoubtedly shape the future of philanthropy.

What is also firing her up at the moment is how women are reshaping philanthropy. She describes the no-strings attached, big-ticket giving by MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos, as inspiring. In her opinion, “…Women are more concerned about impact, not control. We look at needs and, in my experience, are much more ready to open our wallets when a cause resonates with us. We tend to give from the heart, men from the head. Men are less emotional, they think of data and longevity of legacy,” she says.

Another generous giver is Melinda French, the ex-wife of billionaire Bill Gates. Both Scott and French are donating to causes that empower women and boost education — things that Yuen Thio believes could turn the tide for gender equality. Reflecting further on how these women have come into their own after their divorces, she says, “Sometimes, when the wife has lived in the shadow of her husband, you need a marriage to break down for a woman to really shine.” 

Strength in Solitude

For herself, she has found solo travel to be empowering. Yuen Thio embarked on her first one three years ago and chose Beirut. “I had never lived by myself or had my own space. I wanted to feel how it was to be my own person in the world, out of my comfort zone,” she says.

Armed with her telephoto lens, the photography enthusiast made her way to the Lebanese capital and was thoroughly struck by the city’s contrasts. A memory of the bombed-out Holiday Inn rubbing battered shoulders with the palatial Intercontinental Phoenicia stands out for her, attestation to the resilience and durability of the human spirit.

Women, more than men, face a higher incidence of gender-based abuse on the internet such as cyberstalking, trolling and violent threats, and teenage girls are even more vulnerable. We need to take a stand. It’s time the community took control.

When she turned 50, she packed her bags for a solo trip to Bordeaux and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She chose the wine region in the southwest of France because she speaks French, and the concentration camps in Poland to try and comprehend the past. “I wanted to understand human history,” she says, adding that we shouldn’t run away from confronting terrible things. Walking through the extermination chambers, she was shaken by the banality of evil. “I remember thinking, ‘This is what evil feels like. It creeps up on us.’” 

Covid-19 has halted her travels, both for work and for leisure, but it has also given her time to slow down, connect more, write more. 

“I’ve always liked writing,” says Yuen Thio, who spent one holiday during her university days as a cub reporter for The Straits Times Life!. Whether advocating for clients, the under-served, or simply musing on an issue that moves her, Yuen Thio makes an impact with her inimitable, eloquent voice.

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

This article was originally published in A Magazine here. Permission required for reproduction.

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