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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

John Doe
John Doe
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

#MyGivingJourney X Jenny Wah: Transforming customer experiences to reignite growth

John Doe
John Doe
portrait of jenny wah

#MyGivingJourney is a series by CFS where we feature extraordinary women in Singapore and their efforts in philanthropy. In our last feature, we have one of our own – Jenny Wah, CFS’s Director of Marketing & Communications.

Jenny Wah chalked up over 20 years of marketing experience at several MNC companies. She started in Key Account/Brand Marketing in the FMCG industry with brands such as Coca-Cola & Pokka. Then she spent the bulk of her marketing career in the IT industry with Adobe and Autodesk. She led global teams and worked with diverse clients all over the map. The demands were dizzying, as were her frequent flyer miles.  

It was a career that rewarded on many fronts. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leaving many businesses and employees reeling. The pandemic was called a ‘great equaliser’; however, COVID-19 also revealed glaring inequalities in societies. For her, this was a period of introspection that led to a flash of insight and courage.  Jenny recalls: “I found myself wondering, what could I do that can contribute to a more equal society?”  

So when the opportunity to join the Community Foundation of Singapore came along, she decided to take up the role of Marketing and Strategic Communication Director.   

Equality of opportunity and social mobility have long shaped Jenny’s outlook towards a purposeful life. One of three children of a mechanic and a housewife, she understands the struggles of many lower-income families.  

Growing up, Chinese New Year was a particularly poignant time. For her, it was a window into how altruism can uplift lives: each year, the Chinese clans would give out bursaries to help students in need, as well as items like school books, shoes and uniforms. Jenny was one such beneficiary. 

Education was Jenny’s springboard to a better future. Armed with a B. Business (Honours) degree from NTU and later an MBA, she embarked on a career in sales and marketing, garnering a reputation for her can-do spirit and creative solutions. She often spearheaded her firms’ corporate social responsibility efforts as well, which she found fulfilling. Four years ago, she started volunteering as a museum host at the National Museum of Singapore, feeding her passion for culture and history. 

Crossing over to a nonprofit meant new challenges. Budgets were smaller and there weren’t as many hands on deck. Jenny learnt to work around this by tapping into her network for pro bono services and negotiating goodwill with vendors. She also had to build a team from scratch.  

However, all this was made easier by the warmth and commitment of the people she worked with. “Everyone double or triple hats and works together for the collective and greater good, never losing sight of the big picture” she notes. Most importantly, she adds, “I see my work here initiating positive change and making a difference.”  

Jenny believes that technology can deliver an impactful customer journey in a consistent, personalized and scalable fashion through transformative concepts such as marketing automation, nurturing through compelling content and relationship marketing. 

“For me ‘Customer Experience’ is not marketing fluff, it’s a work ideology that needs to be at the core of everything we do professionally. I believe that both ‘People’ and the ‘Promises’ we make are at the very heart of CFS’s Brand. I am proud to work in CFS which offers the unique opportunity to be a part of something that will profoundly impact society,” she says. 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more about the #MyGivingJourney series 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. 

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Stories Of Impact

The power of the collective: CapitaLand Hope Foundation joins hands with AIC and CFS to bring cheer to seniors

John Doe
John Doe
a group of people holding a large check

How do you combat loneliness among older folk? The FUN! Fund – a partnership between Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) – hopes to do this by piloting activities that encourage play, generate laughter and build connections. It’s a fresh approach towards reframing the ageing challenge and a promising effort at collaborative philanthropy.

The brand-new fund has struck a chord with CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand Group. Established in 2005, the foundation seeks to improve the quality of life of seniors. It also aims to nurture and inspire the young and protect the environment for future generations.

“We believe that each older person deserves to live life to the fullest as they age in place and in the community. However, there are vulnerable seniors in the community who face daily life challenges such as mobility difficulties, isolation, and lack of adequate support due to family circumstances,” says Ms Lydia Ang, General Manager of CapitaLand Hope Foundation.

Loneliness is a serious issue for our elderly. It erodes mental and physical well-being and can even reduce lifespans. In mid-2021, a study by the Centre for Ageing Research and Education at Duke-NUS found that those aged 60 and above who see themselves as lonely can expect to live three to five years less compared to their peers who don’t feel lonely. The study, also found that a third of aged 60–69 years and 40% of those aged 80 and above perceived themselves as lonely. Those are sobering statistics indeed.

Two years of living under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions made things much worse. Many older folks stayed home. Being less tech-savvy, they had to grapple with severe social isolation. Those in nursing and care homes saw a stark drop in visitors. Many caregiving staff shows increased burnout and psychological distress in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The FUN! Fund plans to empower community care organisations to collaborate with different stakeholder to develop fun and meaningful activities that seniors can look forward to. There will be development of playbook and post running workshops to share learnings for other organisations to replicate and implement.

CHF got to know about the FUN! Fund through its previous links with AIC and CFS. In 2020, when the pandemic struck, the foundation generously contributed S$700,000 to provide emergency support for community care providers and affected seniors and family members. For CHF, the FUN! Fund dovetails with its efforts to help seniors age in place through its #LoveOurSeniors initiative, which provides the vulnerable elderly with better nutrition, enhanced well-being and improved living conditions.

Tapping on its experience from #LoveOurSeniors, and by working jointly with AIC and CFS, the foundation believes it can help develop innovative programmes that bring cheer to isolated seniors. It also hopes to rally more like-minded partners and the community to join in this effort.

“Through FUN! Fund, multiple donors from different sectors are galvanised to pool and align funding against an agreed set of criteria within a short period of time. This has allowed smaller enterprises to leverage the larger network and platform of FUN! Fund to do good together, as they might not have sufficient resources to effectively contribute to the community on their own,” says Ms Ang.

The FUN! Fund is an example of a pooled fund spearheaded by CFS. Our collective impact funds are designed to raise capital from across the giving spectrum and unite partners to drive positive change. We bring together charities and donors, experience and insights, which amplifies the impact of giving and fosters new solutions.

No individual or organisation can solve complex social issues independently, and private foundations like CHF are embracing collaborative philanthropy. “We believe in the power of the collective, where different stakeholders with respective expertise, knowledge and skills come together as one, leveraging each other’s strengths and resources for the common good. Through the years, we have been rallying our employees, tenants, customers and the wider community to do good together,” says Ms Ang.

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Events

International Women’s Forum Singapore: Empowering young women for a better future

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John Doe
picture of poon yu hui, lydia lim yong yee, betty chum, nur ashikin bte rahim, lim pei shan, joyce than jia yi, and laurina tay kai yee

They may come from disadvantaged families, juggling work with school, but that has not stopped them from pursuing their dreams or even helping others. For this, ten young women were presented with the 2016 International Women’s Forum (IWF)’s Education Grants on 30 September.

Managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore, the IWF Education Grants support young women who are currently pursuing a diploma or degree in local polytechnics or universities but face challenges in continuing their studies due to financial difficulties. Many come from low income families and need to work to pay school fees or supplement their household income.

Recipients are selected for their academic performance, as well as resilience and aspirations. During the selection process, the Education Grants Committee also highlighted that despite their difficult circumstances, many of the recipients still found time to give back to the community by taking part in voluntary work such as befriending the elderly and mentoring young children and teens.

At the dinner reception held at CapitaGreen and hosted by IWF Singapore leaders including Dr Aline Wong, Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Arfat Selvam, Saw Phaik Hwa, Chong Siak Ching, Carmee Lim, Goh Swee Chen and Doreen Liu, recipients and mentors mingled and exchanged anecdotes and advice. The young ladies also took to the floor to share their struggles with work and studies, for some the responsibility of caring for ill or unemployed parents and above all their unwavering quest for further education.

The IWF women leaders applauded the strength and determination shown by the recipients and invited them to be ambassadors at the IWF Singapore 20th Anniversary Conference in 2017 so that they can continue to be an inspiration to others. As part of the mentoring programme, IWF leaders will impart guidance, career counselling and life skills to empower these young ladies for the future.

At the 20th Anniversary Conference, the organisation hopes to raise $250,000 to enable and empower even more young women to change the outcomes of their lives as well as their families’.

About the International Women’s Forum

The International Women’s Forum is a singularly unique organisation comprised of more than 6,400 dynamic women leaders in 34 countries and 75 forums around the world. IWF members span careers, cultures and continents, however, they are wholly aligned in their commitment to building better global leadership.

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News

CFS welcomes new Chairman Christine Ong, succeeding Laurence Lien

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John Doe
Three individuals standing together in front of a screen, engaged in an activity or presentation.

(From left) Catherine Loh, Christine Ong and Laurence Lien.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) welcomes new Chairman Christine Ong on 1 April 2019, succeeding outgoing Chairman Laurence Lien. The handover was announced at the CFS Philanthropy Forum 2019 held on 18 March.

Signalling a new phase for CFS as the organisation looks to the future, Christine brings extensive experience spanning 30 years from the banking and finance industry, with key leadership positions in Citibank and UBS. She has long been involved in volunteering and mentoring in community regeneration, education and the arts. At UBS, she started a community affairs programme which raised $3 million to support various causes around the region including educating disadvantaged young people in East Java and saving children from being used as drug mules in the Mekong sub-region.

Christine is a current board member of Focus on the Family. She most recently served as Chairman of Arts House Limited and was previously on the board of The Esplanade Co Ltd (2015–2018).

Said Christine, “It is an honour for me to step into Laurence’s giant shoes at CFS. Laurence has not only built a successful organisation but his inclusive leadership has helped forge strong relationships with donors, partners and stakeholders.I am grateful for the opportunity to lead CFS which, over the years, has transformed how philanthropy is approached. As the organisation evolves to respond to an increasingly complex social landscape, I shall continue to build on the trust and meaningful relationships established between donors and charity partners to inspire even more giving and lead CFS into the next decade.”

Laurence was a founding director of CFS when it was launched in 2009, acting CEO from 2009–2013, and has served as its Chairman since 2013. He has been instrumental in introducing the concept of community philanthropy through donor advised funds to Singapore. He played a significant role in helping CFS grow to achieve 126 funds, raising over $134 million and disbursing over $71 million to over 400 charitable organisations in Singapore.

CFS CEO Catherine Loh remarked, “Under Laurence’s strategic leadership, CFS has grown tremendously and established itself as an organisation well-regarded for its community knowledge, professionalism and strategic approach to giving.”

Reflecting on his ten-year tenure at CFS, Laurence said, “When you start a venture in the non-profit sector, you don’t own anything. The rewards are not material but instead a personal satisfaction that comes from knowing you made a difference.”

He cited CFS’s phenomenal four-fold growth in 2018 as a fitting time for his departure, “CFS is really at an inflection point and it is a good time to leave on a high note. I am confident that with a good board and team already in place, and an experienced hand taking over as Chair, CFS will grow from strength to strength, and become a landmark in Singapore’s giving landscape.”

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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”。

admin bluecube
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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

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