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The Asian Parent: Is your bub safe with infant educarers? This carer tells all!
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The Asian Parent: Is your bub safe with infant educarers? This carer tells all!

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“Well, all that hard work did not go unnoticed, for Madam Intan was awarded the Leading Foundation Teacher Award (LFTA) last year. For the uninitiated, the Leading Foundation Teacher Award is an initiative by the Leading Foundationwhich supports programmes in education and leadership. It is administered by the Community Foundation of Singapore, a non-profit philanthropic organisation that bridges donors with community needs.

The LFTA recognises passionate and dedicated teachers who have made significant contributions to the care and teaching of children in the fields of early childhood and special needs education.

Madam Intan confides, “I never thought that I would receive a National award and I feel honoured, glad and thankful to those who believed in me and affirmed my role as an infant educator.” Read more.

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Dipa Swaminathan on what we can each do for Singapore’s migrant workers

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John Doe
A woman with short hair and a white top smiling warmly, radiating positivity and joy.

Dipa Swaminathan is a force of nature. At 49, the Harvard-educated lawyer is an assistant general counsel for SingTel and the founder of ItsRainingRaincoats, an organisation created in 2015 to support migrant workers in Singapore and champion their cause. As the recipient of the President’s Award for philanthropy and volunteerism in 2017, Swaminathan knows a thing or two about advocating for a marginalised group—in particular, one that has built our nation from the ground up while bearing the harshest brunt of the fallout from COVID-19.

“Migrant workers are not franchised and lack voices in the broader community,” shares Swaminathan. “The avenues available to us are not to them. They are often scared of speaking up for fear of getting their permits cancelled—which can happen within 24 hours.” The vulnerability of their situations are why migrant workers in Singapore are often forced to tolerate poor living conditions—leading to consequences like the one we have seen this year.

“Migrant workers lack many of the comforts that we are so accustomed to. They are expected to live in close proximity to each other and have limited spaces that they can move around in. In these conditions, the impacts of COVID-19 were felt harder by these workers. ItsRainingRaincoats had to ramp up its efforts overnight as the
pandemic started to spread in the migrant worker community and we did so with tremendous speed thanks to our volunteer ranks doubling and the outpouring of
support from the community,” she adds.

Alongside her tireless efforts for this oft-overlooked group, Swaminathan is now embarking on a new project with The Community Foundation of Singapore. Known as “A Greater Gift’’, the campaign focuses on the true value and lasting impact of a legacy gift. A legacy gift is a method of planned donation—essentially, leading to long-term, sustainable support for a cause you believe in.

As an ambassador for this initiative, Swaminathan opens up to Vogue Singapore about the importance of this movement, her advocacy work for migrant workers in
Singapore and her poignant hopes for their future.

What led you to start working with migrant workers in Singapore? Is this something you have always been passionate about?

Working with migrant workers started almost by chance. I was driving home in a thunderstorm one day and saw two migrant workers crouching under a cardboard sheet to remain dry. I took them home and gave them food and drinks and dry clothes to change into. Several weeks later, I received a call from the police saying one of
the men had been charged with a suicide attempt and the only number he had was mine. He had tried to take his life because he hadn’t been paid for three months and had loansharks hounding his family back in India. I knew it was an act of desperation, and emailed the Police Commissioner incessantly until charges were dropped.
The experience made me realise that you can’t change the world but you can change the world for one person.

We must shift our perception that migrant workers are dirty or societal outcasts. We need to correct perceptions in our own circles and speak up on the issue when the opportunity arises at the dinner table or different social settings.

Another experience that changed the game for me was when I saw a group of migrant workers working in the rain, wearing garbage bags to try and remain dry. I called their employer and insisted that it was their duty to provide for their workers, susceptible to the constant rainy conditions in Singapore. I threatened to flag it with newspapers, share it on social media and report it to the Ministry of Manpower. While the employer hung up on me, the next day, I saw that all the workers had been
provided with raincoats.

Which parts of your work with migrant workers do you find most important?

It is incredibly rewarding to be able to bridge conversations between migrant workers, volunteers and other Singaporean residents, as well as galvanising support from the corporate sector and schools. Connecting different parts of the community helps us to build a bigger support platform for migrant workers, helping them integrate
into the broader community.

For example, during the height of the pandemic, ItsRainingRaincoats mobilised hundreds of volunteers to distribute 600,000 hot meals, 120,000 care packages, and helped 12,000 workers with mobile data top-ups so they could remain connected with their family. We also co-authored a mental health booklet in partnership with the
Singapore Medical Society of Ireland and coordinated fundraising efforts for families of deceased or terminally ill migrant workers.

Tell us a little bit about the “A Greater Gift” initiative

“A Greater Gift” is a three-year initiative led by the Community Foundation of Singapore to highlight that legacy giving is critical to providing long-term support and
sustainability to the causes we care about the most. The campaign is to encourage everyone living in Singapore to leave a legacy. Whether its time, money or
resources,
those who are able to do so will have an enduring and positive impact on those in need within the community. I’m proud to have been selected as a brand ambassador for the campaign, to highlight that anyone can give back.

Aside from the impact of COVID-19, what is one other problem facing migrant workers in Singapore right now?

One main problem for migrant workers is that they are often not paid on time. At the end of the day, they are here to earn a salary without exploitation. If we can
achieve this, it’s the first step towards fair treatment.

How do you think we can rectify the stigma and seclusion that migrant workers face?

There is a plethora of issues that put migrant workers on the back foot when they come to Singapore—there is a large number of them, they have issues with language, they are usually here alone without their families and are far from home.

Change needs to happen within each of us—within our hearts and instincts. We must shift our perception that migrant workers are dirty or societal outcasts. We need
to correct perceptions in our own circles and speak up on the issue when the opportunity arises at the dinner table or different social settings.

The most soul-crushing thing for me is when I hear of a migrant worker death.

Seeing the harsh conditions and difficult circumstances that migrant workers are in must take an emotional toll. Do you ever experience compassion fatigue? How do you take care of yourself and what keeps you going?

I do experience compassion fatigue and I need to give myself time to wind down. There were many days this year at the height of the pandemic where I didn’t have
time to attend to my personal day-to-day needs like even taking a shower. My phone never stopped ringing as I attended to countless migrant workers seeking help.

There is a saying that if you don’t fill your well, you can’t draw from the well. And for me, I keep my well filled by exercising, going on staycations and spending lots of
quality time with my husband and two teenage sons with tons of tennis action. We are also avid Formula 1 fans.

Going into 2021, what is your biggest hope for how the lives of migrant workers in Singapore will change?

I hope fewer of them succumb to workplace fatalities—the most soul-crushing thing for me is when I hear of a migrant worker death. I hope workplace conditions and mental health improves for them. I hope that we don’t hear our phones ringing as much—because then we know that we’ve made improvements for them and for us as a society.

Find out more about “A Greater Gift” at legacygiving.sg. Support ItsRainingRaincoats with a donation or a Christmas gift for migrant workers.

Source: Vogue

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.

Opinion

Governance is a continuous journey for charities

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John Doe
A man and woman proudly display an award at a charity transparency and governance event, symbolizing their recognition for outstanding achievements.

By Trillion So

EARLIER this month I attended the Charity Transparency and Governance Award dinner organised by the Charity Council. It was a proud moment for the charities that received the Charities Transparency Awards (CTA) 2019, which ranged from small, medium to large, all 67 of them.

I sit on the board of Community Foundation Singapore (CFS) and chair its Audit and Risk Committee (ARC). CFS received the CTA for the Large Category and Special Commendation Award (SCA) 2019 for Governance and Management.

As the ARC chair of CFS, I felt a sense of achievement; at the same time recognising that this could only be done with the focus and team work between management, staff, board and board committee members. As a winner in the Large Category, CFS was up against many worthy, well-established organisations with a bigger staff strength. This shows that good governance, transparency and management, can be achieved by everyone, as long as the right ingredients are present.

There is no one magic ingredient.  Some key considerations are:

Consider the size, age, purpose, funding model and future growth plans of the organisation first;

Which aspects of good governance are critical now, and which will become important in three years’ time?

Identify skills, resources and people needed to effectively implement new or changed governance and management processes/systems; and

Plan and coordinate any changes within appropriate timeframes – a practical timetable for phasing in new practices is better than hasty reaction

Corporate governance is a journey towards building trust and confidence with key stakeholders, alongside having a mindset of acting with integrity. The beauty of a journey is that you never stand still. You will strive for continuous improvement and enhancement. Improved governance will result in improved public image and transparency, which then motivates the community to give more time and money, and ultimately increase the benefits of the beneficiaries.

Reflecting on CFS’s journey, the board members are of diverse backgrounds and set the right tone from the top. Management takes all recommendations from internal auditors and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) very seriously.

I recall one of the reviews by MCCY a while back revealed that CFS did not have an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) framework. Management immediately embarked on a project assisted by an external consultant to adopt ERM.

With the ERM, it is very clear which are the top risks, what can be done to mitigate the risks and whether any new risks have emerged so that actions can be taken to reduce the risks. It was not a one-off effort, but a continuous and purposeful deployment of ERM, up to today, which yielded results. The Audit Committee then transformed into the ARC from that point onwards, to ensure there is focus on both audit and risks. This is just one example of the continuous enhancement culture that is important for good corporate governance.

What’s next for the charities after receiving the CTA 2019? How do they continue on this corporate governance journey? What should they do differently?

One area that will disrupt business as usual for charities is: new technologies and the digital economy. Charities are starting to use Blockchain technology to ensure donors’ monies are spent on the right programmes and right recipients, including visibility and impact monitoring. Board members of charities need to think about their digital strategy and the risks involved in going digital.

CYBER RISK

Cyber risk is very real and can destroy the reputation of a charity and negate the good work it is doing, bringing it to a standstill if not properly managed. As an audit partner, I have noticed that cyber risk is fast becoming the top risk in most organisations. The Code of Governance issued by the Charity Council requires charities to build up their image to be consistent with its objectives and so charities will have to think of performing vulnerability assessments and penetration tests where applicable.

If charities tap on this area, they will increase productivity and enhance governance. Charities can harness the power of data analytics to perform continuous monitoring, gain insights and highlight areas to investigate. For example, in the area of procurement and payments, insights such as duplicate payments, split payments, early or late payments, and similar bank accounts between vendor and staff, will be red flags worth following up. The beauty of data analytics is that it combs through 100 per cent of the data and can be done continuously. Once set up, it can improve efficiency and effectiveness of internal controls, and is a great tool of oversight.

However, most charities would not have the expertise to start a data analytics programme and it may be costly too. I echo what Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said in her speech at the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards. She mentioned that charities and the community should collaborate to serve Singaporeans better, and to engage new partners and harness community resources.

There is a call, therefore, for people with technology, digital, data analytics and cybersecurity skillsets to step up and volunteer in the charities sector to help make a difference. Perhaps the CSR programmes of corporates should include placing their people with such expertise to sit in charity boards or committees, as well as collaborate in the partnership with charities and government.

I also hope that the recipients of the CTA Awards pay it forward by mentoring other charities in the corporate governance space, and for larger charities to play a bigger role in the charities sector, especially in the technology and digital space to enhance the corporate governance more efficiently and effectively.

The writer is partner at PwC Singapore and board member of Community Foundation of Singapore, where she also chairs its Audit and Risk Committee 

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited

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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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admin bluecube

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

Opinion

Teach a man to fish — and pay for the rod too

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John Doe
Black silhouette of a woman fishing

We have all heard the popular proverb, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Everyone agrees, but few pay for the fishing rod.

Successful businesses invest in skills, people and infrastructure. In the same vein, donors need to fund these areas for charities to deliver social impact.

The challenge for charities
Donors often prefer funding programmes that support individual recipients directly over charitable overhead* expenses. This leads to negotiations for lower overhead costs or unwillingness to support programmes with high overhead costs. Many charities cave in to such expectations for fear of losing a potential funder.

Understandably, all donors want to achieve maximum impact for their gift, but reducing overheads is only good up to a point where the sustainability of the charity is not affected. All organisations incur manpower, training, rental and administrative costs at the very least. If charities are pressured to keep overhead costs unsustainably low, they will operate at sub-par levels and enter a vicious cycle of starvation.

At the Community Foundation of Singapore, we have learnt that when charities receive limited funding to cover overhead, service delivery is affected because charities have to divert resources to fundraise for the shortfall.

Honest conversations
There is growing recognition that efficiency is not determined by low overhead costs alone. Depending on the type of services or programmes, overhead can vary greatly across charities. For instance, a charity that distributes food rations via volunteers will have far lower overhead than a nursing home that hires skilled staff round-the-clock to provide care.

CFS works with its charity partners to present the true programme costs needed for social impact. With that in mind, we also work with donors to map out sustainable and impactful ways of giving.

We need to continue to have such conversations about true costs; the funding of overhead is just the tip of the iceberg in our search for sustainable social solutions.

Joyce Teo
Deputy CEO
Community Foundation of Singapore

*Overhead typically includes manpower, training, rental and administrative expenses.

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.

Events

CFS Donor Learning Trip Series: Empowering ageing well at Yong-en Care Centre

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John Doe
Charitable Business professionals standing before a screen.

This initiative is part of CFS’s Donor Learning Trips, a series of engagement opportunities that enable donors to personally connect with charities and gain insights into how they support communities in need.

Several seniors were playing a game. Seated in pairs, they were passing a large ball around. The challenge? Don’t drop the ball! There was laughter and cheers as the ball wobbled from one pair to another. This is one of many therapeutic activities at Dementia Day Care, a keystone service by registered charity 
Yong-en Care Centre.

Yong-en Care Centre’s Dementia Day Care is a lifeline for 31 seniors – all with moderate to advanced dementia – and their overwhelmed caregivers. The programme is funded by the generous donors of CFS.

In May 2023, 11 donors from 7 donor-advised funds (DAFs) took the time to join our first Donor Learning Trip this year, to Yong-en Care Centre, to meet with the charity and discover how it cares for the vulnerable elderly. Ageing Well is one of CFS’s five focal areas for grantmaking, where we curate programmes that enable our senior generation to remain active and purposeful for a better quality of life in their golden years.

Yong-en Care Centre began 27 years ago serving the destitute elderly in Chinatown. It has since expanded its outreach to the Chin Swee, Outram and Bukit Merah areas. Its services have also gone beyond food security and befriending to a full suite of support for low-income families, single mothers, home nursing care, dementia, and active ageing. It is an under-the-radar charity that is quietly and steadily making an outsized impact.

During the visit, donors learnt how music therapy is being embedded into dementia care, as well as the support and workshops offered to caregivers, many of whom are also old. The Dementia Day Care runs daily activities that engage the beneficiaries’ cognitive functions and improve their motor skills, including the pass-the-ball game witnessed by our donors. Such multi-sensory activities are specially curated to help persons with dementia manage their condition.

Donors also received updates on Home Care, another programme that receives grants from CFS donors. Yong-en Care Centre is one of the 24 home care service providers in Singapore and its nurses visit homebound seniors to provide personalised medical care.

Yong-en Care Centre is rapidly expanding its dementia care services and introducing more active ageing programmes. It is also collaborating with other community care providers to set up an integrated services hub for seniors and their caregivers at Chinatown Point. To accomplish these initiatives, the nonprofit relies on government grants and public donations. It does not use commercial fundraisers.

Through CFS, Yong-en Care Centre has managed to grow its donor base. “CFS connects us with donors who are truly aligned with our mission,” says Ms. Griselda Ong, director of Elderly Services at Yong-en Care Centre. In 2022, almost a third of funding (32.8%) for home care and 27.5% of funding for dementia day care came from CFS donors . “This support is significant as these critical services help the vulnerable age in place,” says Griselda.

“I have always been interested in supporting elder care,” says June Chia, a donor who set up a donor-advised fund (DAF) with CFS. “But there are many charities doing such work that I do not know of.” Through CFS, she learnt about Yong-en Care Centre.

June is inspired by Yong-en Care Centre’s impact on marginalised communities and its commitment to continuous progress. “I feel that my money is being well-utilised,” she shares. June appreciates CFS’s meticulous vetting of charities and our dedication to groundwork. Giving through a donor-advised fund (DAF) is also hassle-free, as CFS handles all the administrative work and provides regular updates on her fund.

I have always been interested in supporting elder care. But there are many charities doing such work that I do not know of. Through CFS, I learnt about Yong-en Care Centre and having seen first-hand what they are doing, I feel that my money is being well-utilised.

For Yong-en Care Centre, meeting donors face-to-face was a valuable opportunity to deepen their understanding of its unique care model and to engage with them on any questions they may have, says Griselda. In addition, it is also an opportunity to thank CFS donors who have been supporting the charity and build a lasting relationship with them.

CFS assists charities and their underprivileged communities by connecting them with donors who are seeking to support causes and crucial needs that resonate with them deeply.

To find out more about the causes we support, please visit www.cf.org.sg/what-we-support/.

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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