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Start a donor-advised fund: plan your giving flexibly and sustainably
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Start a donor-advised fund: plan your giving flexibly and sustainably

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The breakfast huddle with Catherine Loh: A group of individuals gathered around a table, engaged in a morning discussion.

CEO Catherine Loh goes on Money FM 89.3 to speak about the donor-advised funds.

Elliott Danker: Funds such as DAFs are especially needed during the current COVID-19 pandemic because that’s where you have more people in need. Many charities have shared that donations have been falling.

Manisha Tank: A DAF allows donors to give in a more informed, structured and sustained manner over time. As of March 2020, there are 143 DAFs set up with CFS, which is double the number in March 2015. How does a DAF actually work and why has there been an increase in the number of DAFs over the years?

Elliott: With us is Catherine Loh, CEO of the Community Foundation of Singapore. We’ve been trying to describe and nail down the meaning of donor-advised funds or DAFs. It’s like a personal charitable savings account; is there anything more you could tell us about DAFs?

Catherine Loh: It’s easier to give you a concrete example. One such DAF is the SR Nathan Education Upliftment Fund, which was set up by our late president when he retired in 2011. As he had received help himself back when he was young, Mr Nathan wanted to set up a fund to help students at risk of dropping out of school due to financial difficulties.

So through this one endowment fund established with us, he was able to reach out to many educational institutions like ITE (Institute of Technical Education), various polytechnics and universities to support students in need. Some special schools like the Mountbatten vocational school and even the four self-help groups have benefitted.

Even though he is no longer with us, we work with a committee comprising a family member, close friends and those who have a deep interest in the community to guide the fund. Over the years, thousands of students have obtained their diplomas and degrees with the support from the Fund. Hopefully from the example you can see that for a donor-advised fund, donors get to name their fund, to choose the causes that they are interested in supporting, and they can use the fund to support more than one charity. There’s a lot of flexibility here.

Manisha: Is a DAF only for the wealthy?

Catherine: There is a minimum amount to set up a donor-advised fund. The minimum amount is $200,000 but a donor can start off with $50,000 and fulfil the pledge over a period of time.

Elliott: How big is the concept of a DAF in Singapore when compared to the rest of the region or the world?

Catherine: This concept is pretty new. In Southeast Asia, we are one of the few established community foundations. However, in the US community foundations are very well established and donations into donor-advised funds are large.

Manisha: If you’re someone who’s decided on having a DAF to take care of your charitable causes and your contributions, is the due diligence all done for you?

Catherine: Before we talk about a charity or their programmes to a donor, we would have done the basic due diligence; checking up on their finances, making sure it is a charity that is doing good work. When we recommend, we try to match the donor’s interest with what the charities can offer and really helping the donors achieve their objectives.

Manisha: Do the donors come to you for different reasons, or some have just come into money and have decided to do something useful with it?

Catherine: People come with their personal reasons, but most do want to do good and they do want to give. The whole purpose is to ensure that their money is put to good use. They want to have the peace of mind that the charities are doing the work that they are supposed to do. This is where we can help to provide the professional advice and to give them the peace of mind.

Elliott: You talked about the minimum amount to start a DAF. How do you start one, and if I’m opening one with CFS, do I have to pay a fee?

Catherine: It is signing a deed and that’s it. It takes about two to four weeks depending on the complexity of the donor’s unique circumstances and what their requirements are. But it is definitely easier than setting up your own family foundation or a corporate foundation.

Manisha: Why has there been an increase in the number of DAFs?

Catherine: We have seen an increase in awareness as we have also been more active in explaining this concept to the public. Over the years, we’ve had happy donors referring their friends and colleagues to us and we’re glad that we’ve gained the trust of our donors and charity partners alike

We’ve also seen an increase in demand because this structure meets the needs of many donors. We’ve established funds for both individuals and businesses; individuals set up memorial funds to remember a loved one or to celebrate significant events like retirements, birthdays and wedding anniversaries. DAFs are useful for financial and legacy planning as well, because donations into a fund can be eligible for two and a half times deduction off taxable income. It can be used as an instrument for tax planning. It can also be named as a beneficiary in a will or a trust. Increasingly, we work with lawyers and executors of wills to administer money left behind for charity.

Very often executors are left vague instructions to just gift the money to charity, and by working with us they have the peace of mind that there are professionals working to identify the right charities and programmes for them.

Manisha: What are the differences between giving to charity and setting up a DAF?

Catherine: If the donor is interested in accountability and transparency and they want to keep track of the donations for regular, long term and more strategic giving, then a DAF is very useful. What we want is for the donor to understand the cause or causes that they are interested in, to get to know the charities and the types of programmes that are out there. Once the donor gets involved, they are more likely to support their causes for a long period of time.

Manisha: One of the best things to donate is time; does that happen and do the donors get involved with these causes and turn up in person to see what’s on the ground?

Catherine: We do have donors who do that whenever they have the time. They are busy professionals who may not have a lot of time and they just give with money first. But we do encourage them to get involved and not just themselves but with their families. Very often we want to not only engage the donors but their family members as well, to get them to understand what they are really helping. In so doing, they would be the ones coming up with new ideas and working directly with the charities to create positive social change. This is a culture that we want to build in Singapore.

Elliott: Some charities are suffering during this COVID-19 pandemic, unable to have fundraising dinners; what has the impact of the pandemic been on DAFs? Should people consider going into a DAF during this pandemic because it’s more focused and safer with due diligence all done?

Catherine: We have seen activity throughout this whole year, so activity hasn’t slowed down for us at all. In fact, donors are talking to use because they want to know how they can help over the longer term; they want to know what are the underfunded sectors and the pressing issues that need
support going forward.

What this pandemic has taught is that it is good to be prepared. As the pandemic continues, we have rising unemployment, health risks and donations from the general public that have decreased. For the donors who have planned their giving and established their donor-advised funds in the past with us, this is an opportunity where they have stepped up. Over the past few months, we have seen a very significant amount being given out from our existing donor-advised funds to COVID-19 related causes.

Manisha: What about businesses?

Catherine: We have quite a few businesses who have established donor-advised funds with us as well. There are many reasons for doing so. There is more marketing mileage with a named fund; this can be a starting point to learn about philanthropy before setting up their own corporate foundation. They use it for planning and tracking their charitable budget, and also to give more strategically by tapping on our knowledge, experience and network in the sector.

Elliott: Is it more high network individuals that are taking part in donor-advised funds?

Catherine: For the Community Foundation of Singapore, a donor-advised fund is just one product which we offer; these are targeted at those who have more to give and they want to give in a longer term manner, so their own named fund is suitable. However, we established our own Community Impact Funds (CIF) in response to social issues that we want to address; you may have heard of the Sayang Sayang Fund which was set up in February as an emergency response fund in the wake of COVID-19.

These kinds of Community Impact Funds receive thousands of donations with thousands of donors donating to these funds. These people could be anywhere from students to retirees, anybody who is linked or feels close to the cause.

Listen to the full interview here:
https://omny.fm/shows/money-fm-893/the-rise-of-donor-advised-funds-in-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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Stories Of Impact

Shining a light on early childhood literacy

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John Doe
a group of children sitting around a table with books

Our donors have long been a pillar of support for the charity SHINE Children and Youth Services, especially their Reading Odyssey. This programme builds reading skills and confidence in disadvantaged children. CFS is commemorating 15 years of giving and this story is one of a three-part series that highlights the strong relationships CFS has fostered with charities over the years.

While most children in Singapore are able to read when they start primary school, some have very limited literacy skills. This could be due to challenging personal circumstances or undiagnosed learning difficulties in their earlier years. The problem is that this limitation immediately sets them back from their peers academically.  

Reading Odyssey to the rescue

SHINE Children and Youth Services bridges this gap through a volunteer-supported reading programme called Reading Odyssey. The programme struck a chord with us at the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) and with several of our donors keen to support educational causes. It goes beyond nurturing skills like word recognition. It also builds confidence and hope for these children, who tend to suffer from low self-esteem. 

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

“Through CFS’s strategic efforts in garnering support from funders, the programme was able to partner with more community groups and agencies to expand its reach from four to seven communities in 2018,” notes Geraldine Low, Director of SHINE’s Educational Psychology Service. 

By 2022, this empowering initiative had grown to cover 13 communities, benefitting over 800 primary school students. It amassed a formidable pool of over 800 volunteers, who patiently guide the children with their reading, widen their exposure to genres and topics, and spur them to become lifelong learners. Reading Odyssey also draws on learning support experts to provide specialised guidance to children who may have conditions like dyslexia.

A partnership that works

It can be a challenge to seek support for children in the community with learning or reading difficulties that are ‘hidden’ and whose needs are easily misunderstood. We appreciate CFS who has been open and committed to journey alongside the team to seek clarity on needs and programme intervention, provide feedback, and actively position the programme to relevant funders.

CFS’s partnership with SHINE dates back to 2010, during our formative years as the nation’s first community foundation. The charity, founded in 1976, provides an array of services including educational psychology, school-based social work, therapy and mental health. To date, a total of 105 contributions amounting to over $5.5 million have been made by generous CFS donors. 

“The donations from CFS have provided a stable and reliable source of funding. This has allowed SHINE to continue operating and delivering vital services to children and youth without interruption,” says Geraldine, adding that the money has also helped SHINE develop new initiatives and explore innovative approaches to their programmes.

A common vision

The powerful work done by SHINE falls under one of our five focal areas for grant making: Accessing Quality Education. We believe holistic, quality education can help break the poverty cycle for low-income families and improve social mobility. We partner with a wide range of charities and educational institutions to help every child receive a good, well-rounded education. 

For donors who want to make a difference in early childhood education, we introduce them to programmes like Reading Odyssey, which advances child literacy as well as social inclusivity in Singapore.

“By pooling knowledge and experiences, initiatives that are evidence-based, culturally sensitive and tailored to the unique needs of the beneficiaries can be designed and implemented,” says Geraldine.

That is why SHINE hopes to continue working closely with CFS and to explore long-term funding strategies with CFS, so it can make even more of a lasting impact.

We are proud of our long-term relationship with SHINE and are committed to working with like-minded charities to create a greater impact on the lives of children in underserved communities under the CFS cause Accessing Quality Education. 

CFS is celebrating our anniversary throughout 2023—15 years of empowering donors to make a meaningful impact. Since our inception in 2008, we have received over S$292 million in donations in Singapore and disbursed over S$157 million in grants to over 400 charity partners.  

To discover how you can make a difference, please visit www.cf.org.sg/contact-us/get-in-touch/ 

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News

The Straits Times: She helps pupils with special needs cope in school

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portrait of Madam Tutek Alauyah Amir

by Nur Syahiidah Zainal, 3 October 2016

Just as school starts to wind down in the last quarter, Madam Tutek Alauyah Amir’s work picks up speed.

Her mind skips ahead to new pupils entering Tampines Primary School next year – specifically the ones with special needs like dyslexia, autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – that she is gearing up to help.

For her dedication, the 56-year- old, an allied educator for learning and behavioural support at the school, won the Leading Foundation Teacher Award (LFTA) last year. The LFTA, started in 2014, specifically recognises early childhood and special needs education teachers who have made a difference to their pupils. Read more.

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Stories Of Impact

International Women’s Forum Singapore: Guiding Young Women towards Achieving their Dreams

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A woman joyfully laughs while carrying a backpack and holding a phone in her hand.

Education is a powerful social leveller, and the youngest Nobel Peace laureate in the world Malala Yousafzai will readily attest to that. In fact, it is her life’s mission to make sure young girls and women all over the world are lifted out of poverty through receiving equal access to an education. For women all over the world, Malala is celebrated as a champion of women’s rights and is recognised for her immense achievements in the face of overwhelming adversity.

The International Women’s Forum (IWF) Singapore Education Grant took a feather out of Malala’s hat when it was established in 2014 – to support women of all backgrounds to receive proper education and mentorship.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) supports this ideal through managing the IWF Education Grant, as it makes a difference by providing upward social mobility for young women who possess grit, empathy and a strong determination to excel in their field of study.

Like Malala, the IWF believes in nurturing the next generation of women through providing education and mentorship. Since the Education Grant’s inception in 2014, IWF Singapore has awarded grants to 68 young women from 13 tertiary institutions in Singapore. These young women are usually students between the ages of 17 to 35 who are applying for a diploma or degree to local polytechnics or universities, and are at risk of dropping out of school due to financial constraints.

So far, it has been a humbling experience for the IWF to support such young women from financially-challenged backgrounds in their quest for higher education and to achieve their dreams. Like a proud parent, the IWF marvels at how far they have come in their journey to find passion and confidence in spite of their considerable personal challenges.

Providing a Guiding Hand

However, it is not all about providing good education through financial support. The IWF Education Grant seeks also to equip these young women with life skills and guidance on career choices, in hopes that they will broaden their horizons and become emboldened to soar in their endeavours.

Through collaboration with the Young Women’s Leadership Connection (YWLC), a mentorship programme was formed under the leadership of Mrs Arfat Selvam, Managing Director of law firm Duane Morris and Selvam LLP.

Although IWF Singapore expects that the students they support have reasonable academic results, there is a far greater emphasis on young women with a strong track record of voluntary social contributions and a high degree of social empathy.

Many of these young women have expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the support from the grant towards their tenuous financial circumstances and want to do their best to contribute back to society. At the same time, they harbour hopes to pursue a better future for themselves and to create a lasting impact with the choices they make. Perhaps one day, these young women will be able to rise up and achieve their dreams, just like Malala Yousafzai.

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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.

Stories Of Impact

Celebrating women who give in different ways

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John Doe
A woman and two girls, wearing joyful expressions, pose happily in front of the camera.

It is seldom that we honour the accomplishments of women who give their all without asking anything in return, whose humanitarianism managed to achieve great success against all odds.

International Women’s Day is one such day of reflection and remembrance of the efforts of women all around the world, both past and present. It looks back on the struggles of women from the past like Rosa Parks, the ‘first lady of civil rights’, who strove for an equal and fairer society to empower the women of the future.

Yet, it is not only about women who are notable and have achieved great fame. It is also about the unsung, ordinary women in our society who give back in their own humble ways. The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) works alongside many of these women who contribute in their own capacities and in different societal roles.

A CEO who cares

CEO of Home Nursing Foundation Dr Christina Tiong finds a great love for philanthropy through leading Home Nursing Foundation, the largest and most established home healthcare service provider in Singapore, which CFS donors have supported since 2011.

She first started her journey in philanthropy during a clinical attachment as a medical student. It left an indelible impression on her when she saw home care nurses faithfully visiting and patiently caring for severely debilitated, bedbound patients living in dismal home environments, while also providing practical help, comfort and relief to their family members.

Helping out in medical missions at a rural clinic and drug rehabilitation centre in northern Thailand, as well as urban mobile clinics in Philippines strengthened her resolve to give back in whatever way she could.

During these missions, Dr Tiong was impressed by how determination and ingenuity could stretch limited resources to accomplish much more than back home in Singapore. For instance, the efficient use of donated drugs and the setting up of a makeshift diagnostic lab with x-rays in a rural mountainside with little infrastructural support.

After graduating and practising in various specialties, Dr Tiong was thankful to be awarded a scholarship from the Ministry of Health Holdings to study Public Health in Harvard. This gave her additional skillsets to lead and run healthcare organisations.

“This opened up many exciting opportunities for me to apply my clinical and administrative experience and build the community care sector, which was relatively neglected but now rapidly growing to meet the health needs of the ageing population sustainably,” Dr Tiong explains.

Her hope is to build a purpose-led and joyful work culture at Home Nursing Foundation. She would like for each person in the Foundation to be encouraged to give of their best, to empower patients and their families through home care services to live with dignity and joy at home.

A social worker with a heart of gold

Sim Chunhui found her calling to give back in her own ways as social worker in 2012, when she joined Habitat for Humanity Singapore. The housing charity, which helps families and homeowners with limited means to increase their access to improved living conditions, has received much support from CFS donors.

Prior to becoming a social worker, Chunhui had 10 years of working experience in the meetings and conventions sector. It was in her late 20s when she started exploring her faith seriously, and having just completed a part time degree, was at the crossroads of her career. After much praying and soul-searching, Chunhui decided that having been blessed in many aspects of her life, it was her turn to pay the blessings forward to others.

Now, Chunhui finds great fulfilment in transforming the living conditions of elderly and vulnerable homeowners through Project HomeWorks, a programme that she has been working on for the past seven years. Through the programme, Chunhui organises pest-elimination, painting and cleaning sessions with professionals and volunteers for vulnerable individuals and families who depend on government financial assistance.

“I also have a really soft spot for the elderly, and it’s been so enjoyable working with the homeowners on Project HomeWorks as most of them are seniors!” Chunhui says.

Giving a voice to autism

A firm believer in working towards solving social issues in Singapore, Rosa Quitadamo strives to give back in her own way to society as a volunteer. Although she identifies as an Italian citizen, Rosa considers herself a citizen of the world, having lived in China, Hong Kong and eventually moving to Singapore 17 years ago. People with disabilities is an issue particularly close to Rosa’s heart.

An avid people watcher, Rosa would often stroll to the bus stop near her home, which is adjacent to Saint Andrews Autism Centre (SAAC). Saint Andrews Autism Centre supports persons with autism and their families through education, training and care. CFS’s support for them includes a recently introduced Edible Community Garden, funded by Relaxed Fund’s founder George Jacobs and administered by CFS.

It was at that bus stop that Rosa saw clients from the centre walking with their coaches and decided that she would make a difference to them. Rosa suggested to SAAC that the clients who worked on the Edible Community Garden sell the produce that they grew to the residents of Villa Marina.

This project would eventually seed the breakthrough for the students of SAAC to go beyond overcoming their fear of dirt and working in a garden, to being instilled with pride and responsibility for the beneficial work that they did.

“You see few people with disabilities around in Singapore, and as a result locals are not very accepting of their tics,” Rosa observes. By making it her mission to help the students of SAAC sell their own produce, it raised the awareness of autism in the community in a very personal way.

An energetic person who gets things done, Rosa has no qualms about rolling up her sleeves and getting involved in volunteering work. She encourages everyone to try their hand at volunteering, as it is meaningful work which makes a visible impact. “Get involved in work that’s close to your heart and do something you think that’s best suited for you. There’s always a role for everyone,” Rosa recommends.

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.

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