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The Law Gazette – Make Giving Better: The Role of the Community Foundation of Singapore
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The Law Gazette – Make Giving Better: The Role of the Community Foundation of Singapore

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Make Better Giving write up 1
Make Better Giving write up 1
Make Better Giving write up 2

Asia’s billionaires are getting ready to hand over to the next generation, and Singapore is benefiting from the rush to set up new or satellite family offices with an increased focus on philanthropy and impact investing.

In recent months, Horizon Ventures, a private investment firm associated with Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing opened an outpost in Singapore.* Oppenheimer Generations, the family office of former De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer, is also in Singapore while Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio and Google co-founder Sergey Brin both set up shop in late 2020.

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Events

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Family Office Circle Webinar: Philanthropy in Singapore and the Region

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The Community Foundation of Singapore’s (CFS) CEO, Ms. Catherine Loh, was invited to speak at a virtual closed-door Family Office Circle event titled Philanthropy in Singapore and the Region on the 22nd of July, organised by the MAS-EDB Family Office Development Team[1] in partnership with the Asia Philanthropy Circle (APC) and CFS.    

The event was attended by 55 international and local participants, involving single family offices and family foundations who had either set up or are setting up a presence in Singapore.

Ms. Kelly Teo, Deputy Director and Head of MAS’ Banking Development Division, observed in her opening remarks that there was an increasing interest among single family offices, especially those involving the next-generation, to give back to society such as through  philanthropy. This sentiment is corroborated by the UBS Family Office report 2020 which found that philanthropy is becoming the most important activity by the time of the third generation. However, many were unsure about how to start and who to give to. The Family Office Circle event was hence organised to share with single family offices about the philanthropy landscape and giving opportunities in Singapore and the region.

The crucial role of Philanthropy in Singapore

CFS’s CEO Ms Catherine Loh participated in a fireside chat, hosted by Ms. Stacey Choe, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of APC on Singapore’s philanthropy landscape, its gaps and opportunities.

Catherine spoke about the need for philanthropy in Singapore, despite being widely regarded as a wealthy country. She explained that due to the widening income gap, social inequality is deepened in our society, and philanthropic donations are needed to provide relief to those in need and to find long term solutions to reduce social inequality. 

While Singapore does not have absolute poverty, relative poverty is a concern here. Research has shown that a family of 4 needs between S$2,500 to $2,950 a month in gross household income to live decently. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the lower income more seriously than those with higher incomes.  The lower income and less educated are likely to find it challenging to pivot and adapt to a workplace that is changing due to technological advancements.   

Singapore also requires solutions to a rapidly ageing society.  Other critical areas of need would be looking at issues related to mental health and environment.  All these issues are critical to the future stability of Singapore.

When asked about how we could support those who are most in need, Catherine answered that she would prefer donors to ask what kind of social change they would like to see instead. She said that asking that question would lead to effecting long term change, for instance, helping the poor to get out of the poverty cycle.

Catherine also extolled the benefits of participating in philanthropy, citing that families who engage in it together are happier and pass down shared values to the next generation. Philanthropy also reduces the income gap and promotes cohesion in countries, and benefits the rest of the region as well through exchange of expertise and the replication of successful philanthropic pilot programs.

A Donor’s Giving Journey

Catherine was delighted to have Mr. Govind Bommi, the Founder and Chairman of Filtrex Holding Pte. Ltd, to share his inspiring giving journey as a donor of CFS and what motivated him to give.

CFS donor Mr. Govind Bommi came from very humble beginnings. He was born in Bangalore, India, to a family of six children who lived off a single income.

Despite his family’s modest background, it was his mother’s generosity towards the beggars who came to his house in the evenings that made the deepest impression on him. It was her philosophy towards helping others that struck a chord with him and formed the basis of his own giving nature, leading to the founding of the Andal Cares Fund, named in honor of his mother.

Mr. Bommi now considers Singapore his home, after moving here 20 years ago. He set up a water filtration and purification company, and says it’s best to participate in the community that one lives in and find out how best you can help others. Currently, Mr Bommi’s Andal Cares Fund is administered and managed by CFS, and supports rehabilitation programmes by the Metta Association. 

The Philanthropy Landscape in the region and its opportunities

The CEO of APC, Ms. Mafruza Khan gave an introduction to APC and the work that they do while COO Ms. Stacey Choe spoke about the philanthropy landscape in the region, its key trends and opportunities to build a better Asia through philanthropy together. She also shared about the unique challenges that philanthropists faced in Asia and suggested how philanthropists can convene together and collaborate to catalyze the necessary changes.

If you would like to learn more about philanthropy giving in Singapore, read here.

[1] A strategic partnership between the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Economic Development Board.

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Stories Of Impact

International Women’s Forum: From seeding bursaries to expanding horizons for young women

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Grit. Confidence. Passion. When it comes to long-term success, these qualities matter.

For Chen Si, an awardee of the International Women’s Forum Singapore (IWF) Education Grant, her pursuit to become a psychologist was driven by a personal conviction. “Two of my close friends almost lost their lives to depression. I’m convinced mental health is a serious issue and I hope to be there for those who struggle in the dark,” says Chen.

Started in 2014 and managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), the IWF Education Fund has been supporting young women from financially-challenged backgrounds during their tertiary education. To date, the IWF Education Grant has disbursed over $150,000 to 60 young women from 12 local tertiary institutions.

But beyond affirming academic excellence, the grant has also aimed to nurture women of ‘steel’ – individuals with the character and commitment to achieve in their chosen field. Applicants for the education grant are personally screened by IWF, whose panel includes some of Singapore’s top women business leaders, to recognise young women with the potential to excel and give back to society.

For Chen Si, receiving the IWF Education grant has been a great encouragement. “It affirms the work I do and spurs me to achieve excellence in what I believe in”, she says.

With CFS’s facilitation, the IWF Education Grant has in recent years expanded to more tertiary institutions, including the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and LASALLE College of the Arts, thus supporting women who wish to pursue alternative career paths.

The IWF Education Grant has also grown to include a mentorship programme, in collaboration with the Young Women’s Leadership Connection (YWLC). All recipients of the IWF Education Grant are eligible to apply for the IWF-YWLC Mentorship programme, which opens doors for these young women to benefit from connections to successful women mentors, whether it’s building confidence, valuable industry contacts, or a role model they can learn from.

Celeste Marie Jacob, previously an opera student at NAFA, and who now teaches voice at a local music school, received the IWF Education Grant and took part in the IWF-YWLC Mentorship Programme. She was delighted to find that her mentor, despite coming from a business background, helped her to address her career concerns as an arts practitioner.

“It was important for me to think outside my job scope and have interactions with people from different backgrounds,” says Celeste. “As an opera student, my mentor opened my eyes to see new possibilities and opportunities to use my skills.” As a result of the mentorship, Celeste began emceeing for concerts and productions, which has benefited her through the additional income.

For Chen Si, the mentorship programme has offered support in a time of transition to work life, “My mentor reminded me to stay rooted in my values and beliefs and strive for excellence with confidence. With this confidence, I am now better able to face the uncertainties of the future and take things in my stride.”

Goh Swee Chen, President of the IWF Grant Committee Singapore said, “Over the last five years, it has been a joy to see the IWF Education Grant blossom and become a catalyst for personal and professional growth for these talented young women. Empowering women is not merely about supporting them financially, but exposing them to opportunities, networks and career options as they make this critical transition from student to working life. CFS’s facilitation has played a pivotal role, helping to establish a strong foundation that has enabled us to develop collaborations and increase our impact over time.”

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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

The REDAS Solidarity Project Fund: Caring for migrant workers affected by COVID-19

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Among the vulnerable communities in Singapore impacted by COVID-19, it is the community of migrant workers who have toiled invisibly to help build our nation that has been very heavily affected. Infection amongst their community has been widespread, and a large number of them are confined to their dormitories, unable to leave.

It is thus very encouraging that the Singapore government and many other organisations have stepped up to give assistance and support to them in their isolation.

To help ease their plight, the Real Estate Developers Association of Singapore (REDAS) announced on 30th April the launch of the REDAS Solidarity Project Fund. Its aim is to provide aid and relief to the segments of the community most affected by COVID-19, particularly in the built environment sector where many migrant workers are employed.

So far, more than 50 REDAS members have contributed $760,000 to the Fund, which was also launched to show appreciation for Singapore’s healthcare workers.

Through collaboration with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) and other partners such as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), REDAS was able to promptly roll out the initiative to demonstrate our community’s stand for Singapore’s migrant workers.

“Our migrant workers are the cornerstone of society and it is important to recognise their valuable contributions,’’ says Deputy CEO of CFS Joyce Teo. “CFS fully supports such efforts to ensure that they receive the best possible assistance during their time of need. ’’

To mark the start of their giving, REDAS distributed 200,000 care packs to as many workers in factory-converted dormitories through the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC). These care packs will include toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, a shaver and a bar of soap. In addition, 800 standing fans will also be donated to dormitories to help improve ventilation for the workers.

“Given the large number of migrant workers under quarantine in dormitories, there is great urgency for us to meet their essential needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” says REDAS President Mr Chia Ngiang Hong. “We hope this collective effort to spread a little kindness to the migrant workers will provide the much needed emotional support to help them ride out this difficult period.”

The May Day Gift event to distribute the care packs was graced by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Mr Ng Chee Meng, and joined by URA Chief Executive Lim Mr Eng Hwee, REDAS President Mr Chia Ngiang Hong and MWC Chairman Mr Yeo Guat Kwang.

“We are very happy to have REDAS partner with us to support our migrant workers in the factory-converted dormitories,’ says MWC Chairman Yeo Guat Kwang. “We are really very thankful to everyone for giving a helping hand to our migrant workers in this challenging time.”

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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.

News

$1.35M Fund Set Up For Community Care Groups To Develop Fun Activities For Seniors

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Seniors can look forward to more activities to ease their loneliness and social isolation, thanks to a new $1.35 million fund that community care organisations can tap.

At the launch of the fund on Friday at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotel, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) chief executive Tan Kwang Cheak said social isolation among the elderly is a key concern as it is linked with poor physical and mental health.

“The current funding for the community care sector in Singapore generally supports capital expenditure, provision of essential medical care services to seniors, and solutions to increase staff productivity,” he said.

But the Fun! Fund will help organisations think of new ways for the seniors they serve to have fun, he added.

“We believe that participation in fun activities encourages seniors to feel connected, maintain their curiosity to seek new experiences, increase their life satisfaction and general sense of well-being, and bring much needed laughter and feel-good feelings for seniors.”

The fund was set up by AIC and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

Organisations can apply for a grant of up to $50,000 for each project, which should encourage seniors to be active, connect with others and keep learning.

The programmes must be easily sustained and replicated by different organisations and allow for the building of staff and volunteer capabilities.

The new fund is part of an agreement signed by AIC and the Community Foundation of Singapore on Friday to collaborate on initiatives to promote active ageing and business continuity for the community care sector.

The three-year partnership will focus on active ageing initiatives, supporting community care organisations in enhancing community spaces for seniors’ social activities, manpower development and recognition, and allow staff to continue operating in times of crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Kenny Low, the executive director of City Harvest Community Services Association, which runs a senior activity centre, said his organisation plans to scale up its Rummikub friendly competition, which it has organised for 130 seniors from six active ageing centres.

Similar to mahjong, the table tile game helps to prevent dementia as it requires hand-eye coordination and the manipulation of numbers.

He is also toying with the idea of a gesture remote-controlled car competition to encourage seniors to move about and visualise the motion of the cars, he said.

Sree Narayana Mission chief executive S. Devendran said he is keen to get young people on his team to brainstorm ideas and also join in the activities with seniors.

“When we think of fun, the most fun we had was when we were young. I’ll prompt them (the youth volunteers) with the tagline: When was the last time you did something fun for the first time?”

If you’d like to learn more about FUN! Fund, you can read more here.

This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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