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The Straits Times: Philip Yeo biography raises more than $500k for charity
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The Straits Times: Philip Yeo biography raises more than $500k for charity

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“More than half a million dollars have been raised for charity in conjunction with the launch of former senior bureaucrat Philip Yeo’s biography, Neither Civil Nor Servant.

The funds collected by the Economic Development Innovations Singapore (EDIS) – which Mr Yeo chairs – will go towards helping underprivileged children, via the company’s corporate social responsibility arm, EDIS Cares.

The monies will enable EDIS Cares to expand its programmes in Singapore to reach a targeted 300 children over the next three years, EDIS said yesterday.

The EDIS Cares fund is administered by the Community Foundation of Singapore.”
Read more here.

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Events

Colabs: doing more for persons with disabilities

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As persons with disabilities reach age 18 and exit the school system, they face new life challenges, including living their desired life and gaining access to care and support. With a keen eye on identifying opportunities to improve the lives of these individuals, we kicked off the Colabs Disability series which focused on engagement pathways and employment through catalysing cross-sector collaboration.

As part of the series, participants were recently invited to the MINDS’ Idea Employment Development Centre to understand what a sheltered employment workshop in Singapore would look like. Made up of a diverse group, including social enterprises, corporates, philanthropic institutions, government agencies and non-profits, the group bonded over a common desire to learn and do more for persons with disabilities.

The group took part in various work stations at MINDS, where they interacted and worked alongside their clients. On a daily basis, clients were engaged in a wide range of activities, from seeding, retail, craft and kitchen work, to the packing of edible gifts, bottled water, and disposable earphones.

Next, participants gathered to share their aspirations for persons with disabilities, and their ideas on how the current model of sheltered employment could be improved. For many in the room, it was an eye-opening experience and a great chance to explore opportunities to contribute and collaborate.

Within the context of the sheltered workshop, companies and philanthropists can:

Create greater variety in jobs in workshops, or increase the number of jobs available, by connecting sheltered workshops with potential employers to explore and implement job re-design matched to the abilities of persons with disabilities, or encouraging companies to outsource certain tasks to persons with disabilities (e.g. event decoration, gift preparation, logistics). Much of this can be enabled by education and outreach to potential partners.

Provide a variety of social activities outside of work tasks in sheltered employment workshops, through partnerships with existing non-profits.

Improve the financial sustainability of running sheltered workshops by funding wages or subsidies, providing pro-bono services or skill-based volunteering to sheltered workshops in the marketing of existing products such as bottled water, food and gifts.

Companies and philanthropists interested in understanding how to work together with MINDS can contact the Idea Employment Development Centre to explore possibilities.

If you’re interested in what can be done to support persons with disabilities and their caregivers, the DesignSingapore Council has published an ethnographic study documenting how persons with disabilities live, work and interact with society, along with an illustrated overview of services supporting persons with disabilities. 

Some suggestions for collaborative solutions – based on the collective feedback of over 80 participants in the series – are outlined in the Colabs publication ‘A Call for Collaborative Giving: Bridging the Divide for Persons with Disabilities’ which can be downloaded here.

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Epoch Times: Corporate philanthropy? When a company truly cares

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By Li Yen, October 2016

Download Epoch Times article – ‘Corporate Philanthropy? When a Company Truly Cares’

Corporate giving, or corporate philanthropy, has been gaining momentum in the Republic over the past decade, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong in parliament on Nov 3, 2014. Donations by corporations to Institutions of a Public Character (IPC) have increased two-fold from S$325 million in 2004 to S$644.4 million in 2013, he added.

Looking back at Singapore’s history, charitable donations from corporations is not a recent trend. During the pivotal ‘60s, the tenacity to rebuild Singapore had kindled the philanthropic spirit of some corporations. They offered monetary donations to aid the newly independent nation to battle its problems.

According to a research paper entitled ‘Philanthropy on the Road to Nationhood in Singapore’ by Roshini Prakash and Pauline Tan, the Medical Progress Fund launched in 1965 collected a total of S$4.75 million, with donations from Singapore Turf Club (S$100,000), Singapore Tobacco Company (S$30,000) and The Straits Times (S$12,500).

Other imperative fund-raising projects like the National Defence Fund raised S$8.29 million by 1969. Donations came from big corporations, namely Fraser and Neave (F&N) (S$20,000), F&N’s Board Chairman Tan Chin Tuan (S$50,000), Overseas United Bank (S$150,000), Chinese Chamber of Commerce (S$63,325), and Sheng Huo Enterprise (S$25,000).

Why Should Companies Build a Culture of Giving Back?

Let us take a closer look at corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The two concepts are closely linked, just that philanthropy is a portion of the bigger corporate social responsibility pie.

Typically, corporate philanthropy comprises monetary donations or resources such as facilities or volunteer time put in by the company’s employees.

Nonetheless, while the motive of corporate philanthropy is altruistic, corporations have begun to foresee the need to initiate philanthropic schemes as corporate investment, to gain a better positioning edge over their competitors.

Corporate philanthropy denotes a company’s values. As Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said at the NVPC Corporate Giving Practitioner Roundtable 2015: “Corporate Giving is a deeply important endeavour. When corporate organisations embark on volunteering or philanthropic efforts, it sends a strong message to all both inside and outside the company that they are more than just about bottom lines.”

Corporate philanthropy can be integrated into a corporation’s mission and corporate social responsibility to steer the company in the right direction. Not contradictory to their business interests, the company itself and the employees can reap the benefits of doing good while benefiting the communities it serves.

Catherine Loh, CEO of Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), told Epoch Times: “Companies who do good and build a culture of giving back reap benefits like inspiring and engaging their staff, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Companies are also more likely to grow a positive brand image and attract and retain talent.”

Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2008 to encourage and enable philanthropy in Singapore by enabling donors to set up their own named charitable funds.

CFS helps to bridge individual and corporate donors with charitable organisations to develop programmes and give out grants that support a wide range of needs in the community. Currently, CFS manages more than 80 donor funds, giving out S$10 million every year to make a positive change in many ways.

Ms Loh added that there are numerous benefits for companies looking to partake in corporate philanthropy, such as:

  1. Increasing staff morale and employee retention
  2. Attracting and retaining talent
  3. Growing a positive reputation with the media and the public
  4. Reinforcing corporate culture and identity
  5. Generating business development opportunities
  6. Improving customer retention and brand recall

For instance, Douglas Conant, who was President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company until 2011, noted that the more Campbell allocated their resources to developing philanthropic initiatives to serve the communities, the more engaged and productive their employees were.

Their meaningful mission of “building the world’s most extraordinary food company by nourishing people’s lives everywhere, every day” laid the foundation for the firm’s success.

In another example, American production firm DreamWorks SKG joined hands with schools to devise training programmes that taught low-income students in Los Angeles essential skills in the entertainment industry. This in turn contributes to a better education system that boosts the employability of these low-income students. In addition, having more specially trained graduates helps to strengthen the entertainment industry that it relies on.

However, companies engaging in corporate philanthropy should also comply with other ethical issues concerning environment, consumers, human rights, supply-chain sustainability and transparency, or they cannot be said to be practising good CSR even if they make huge donations to charities. Doing otherwise is just sheer hypocrisy and falsehood, said Gerard Ee, Chairman of Charity Council.

“First and foremost, you got to believe you have a broader responsibility than just making money,” stressed Mr Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foundation.

How Corporations Can Start Giving
Corporations wishing to kick-start their philanthropy effectively can approach the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS).

“For companies that approach CFS, we help to kick-start their philanthropic journey by aligning their core values and intent with the needs of the local community,” said Ms Catherine Loh. “By setting a charitable fund with us, companies are actively involved in deciding how to make the most impact with their philanthropic money.”

CFS, which has a vision of growing a sustained culture of giving for generations to come, has worked alongside a number of corporations in Singapore – for example, Changi Foundation, Ascendas-Singbridge, Estate Developers Association (REDAS) and UBS – on their corporate philanthropy, which involves grantmaking that supports community projects.

A notable example is the Diversity in Abilities programme co-managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore with UBS, which aims to develop and showcase the artistic talents of children and youths with special needs.

As there are more than 2,000 charities in Singapore, CFS can “narrow down and identify charities that are aligned with their philanthropic objectives, given their knowledge and expertise, and we can identify gaps and opportunities to enable companies to make more strategic and effective giving,” said Ms Loh.

To ensure full transparency and accountability, CFS also assists donors in keeping an eye on how their philanthropic money is impacting the beneficiaries, the output, and outcomes through a rigorous programme evaluation and robust grantmaking process, as well as concise reporting.

“Companies find our services useful as they often have to report back to the shareholders on how their philanthropic money has been used.”

She added: “We can also help companies identify charities that can better accommodate their employees for volunteering activities. For example, we introduced a bank with many foreign employees to a charity that runs an English reading programme for children from low-income families. These native English-speaking employees could actively contribute by reading aloud to these children.”

“Companies can contribute time, treasure and/or talent. There is no one best way to give back,” she asserted.

CFS’s sister agency, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NPVC), whose mantra is “Goodness is the Business of Every Organisation”, has a programme called the Company of Good that aims to help companies give better and holistically. For information, visit https://companyofgood.sg/

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Stories Of Impact

Empowering Seniors to Age Well

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By 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be 65 or older (Population in Brief, 2022), making Singapore a “super-aged” society. This significant demographic shift means that more people will be required to serve as caregivers, and demand  for community services and healthcare support will rise.  As our population ages, more emphasis is being placed on allowing seniors to age comfortably in their own homes and communities.

By 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be 65 or older (Population in Brief, 2022), making Singapore a “super-aged” society. This significant demographic shift means that more people will be required to serve as caregivers, and demand  for community services and healthcare support will rise.  As our population ages, more emphasis is being placed on allowing seniors to age comfortably in their own homes and communities.

At the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), we believe seniors should be able to age with dignity, while pursuing meaningful activities, and having access to personalised care. 

To this end, our donors support a range of programmes and activities designed to support seniors and their caregivers.

Caregiving Welfare Association – Home Personal Care

In 2017, the Caregiving Welfare Association (CWA) introduced its Home Personal Care service which aims to provide long-term support for frail seniors living alone, and elderly couples without children. This is to address the growing need for personalised care among the elderly, particularly those without immediate family support. 

Professional caregivers conduct comprehensive assessments of clients’ needs and assist with daily activities such as showering, housekeeping, and grocery shopping. They also engage clients in mind-stimulating activities, help with medication reminders, manage appointments, and offer respite care for primary caregivers.

One client, Madam Oh (not her real name), says the convenience and familiarity of receiving care at home has significantly reduced her stress and improved her mood.

Thanks to CWA's service, I can live more comfortably, confidently, and joyfully. Beyond the invaluable assistance, it's the warmth of companionship that truly touches my heart.

A caregiver from Caregiving Welfare Association taking care of a client during a home visit

St Joseph’s Home – Dusk to Dawn Night Respite Programme

St Joseph’s Home offers several programmes, including their Dusk to Dawn Night Respite Programme. This allows families caring for an elder with conditions like dementia or sundowning syndrome to have some night respite. Clients can use the service a few nights a week or on an ad-hoc basis. The facility prioritises clients’ well-being by providing a restful environment and keeps them engaged and entertained.

St Joseph’s Home Dusk to Dawn Facility is designed to look like a typical home.

Yong-en Care Centre – Home Care Service

To support seniors with limited mobility and chronic health conditions as they recover at home following a hospital discharge, the nurses and support staff at Yong-en Care Center’s Home Care Service closely monitor patients’ health, administer medications and medical procedures, and provide virtual support to patients and caregivers through tele-consultations. In addition to addressing medical needs, the staff also assist clients in navigating support systems to apply for necessary funding and subsidies, and coordinates with social service professionals from Yong-en or external agencies should follow-up be needed. A beneficiary of the Home Care Service shared the following thoughts: “When people ask about Yong-en, I would always tell them that the staff are great and really have the heart for seniors like me.”.

Yong-en Care Centre’s professional nurses ensure that patients get the medical assistance

Thanks to programmes like these, seniors in Singapore can receive quality care, empowering them to age in place with peace of mind. Another community-focused effort launched by CFS in partnership with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) is the FUN! Fund. The FUN! fund supports initiatives that inject fun for seniors receiving Community Care services, helping them design novel and impactful programmes that boost the well-being of older adults. You can read more about the fund here

To learn more about the causes we support and how to contribute, visit https://cf.org.sg/charities/causes-beneficiaries-we-support/

References

Population in brief 2022 (2022) The Strategy Group in the Prime Minister’s Office. Available at: https://www.strategygroup.gov.sg/files/media-centre/publications/population-in-brief-2022.pdf

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Stories Of Impact

How Collaborative Philanthropy is Powering Support for Mental Health

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No friends, no job, and no confidence. That’s what one person grappled with when he first attended a Growth Circle run by Growth Collective SG. By the end of the year, he had built some friendships and was weighing new career opportunities. His self-worth soared. 

Growth Circles are a powerful means to open up mental wellness support to anyone in need. With the backing of philanthropic dollars and like-minded partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Growth Collective SG is sparking a movement for accessible well-being that is gaining momentum.

Growth Collective SG grew out of the Community Mental Health Champions initiative. A collaborative project by CFS and Empact that was generously funded by the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, it began in 2021 with the aim of building a pool of people equipped to help others access mental health support. Mental wellbeing is one of five focal areas that CFS has identified as a priority for grant making in the coming years.

Growth Collective SG is made up of the following organisations:

  • Growthbeans, a social enterprise that provides coaching-infused programs, products and services to equip individuals and leaders with self-awareness, compassion andkey people skills to grow resiliently, connect authentically, and give meaningfully for their well-being.
  • SG Assist , which supports caregivers and their loved ones through an app and volunteers;
  • Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), whose mission is to transform society through applied social science and to inspire lifelong education;
  • Psychosocial Initiative, a social enterprise that promotes psychological first aid skills and emotional/mental health literacy awareness;
  • Empatho, a consultancy that provides social, emotional and mental wellness training to organisations and schools and wants to shift the mental health paradigm from a remedial model to a preventive one;
  • Singapore Anglican Community Services, the community service arm of the Diocese of Singapore;
  • Community of Peer Support Specialists, (CPSS) is a ground-up collective made up of professionally trained and certified Peer support specialists interested in growing Singapore’s mental health peer support movement. They leverage on their lived experiences to provide support to persons with mental health challenges while engaging them in clinical, community and workplace settings.

The idea of Growth Circles for mental health came from Growthbeans, which has been running sharing circles and coaching circles since 2015. These are psychological safe spaces for sharing, reflecting and building meaningful relationships. Each Growth Circle is led by a trained facilitator, who empower individuals through active listening and asking effective questions. “Mental health is a state of wellbeing. To empower individuals to better support their personal wellbeing, we want to provide them with more than a safe space to belong. We want to provide a platform for people to gain self-awareness and perspectives, and have a guided way to practise and grow their person-centric skills with the support of others. And, we have seen the impact that Growth Circles have made,” says Shane Yan, a co-founder of Growthbeans and an ICF certified coach. Shane is the Chair of the steering committee of Growth Collective SG and sits on the steering committee of the SG Mental Well-Being Network.

Drawing upon the varied resources, experiences and competencies of its members who cover the spectrum of the mental health continuum, Growth Collective SG came up with a framework to support four aspects of personal growth – social, psychological, emotional, and spiritual growth. It then set about training Growth Facilitators to lead the Growth Circles. They set boundaries, offer psychological first aid and help participants develop soft skills such as questioning skills, empathy, compassion and emotional intelligence.

Growth Circles typically comprise four to five individuals and take place in person or online. The very first one, held at SUSS, garnered a good response from curious students. “Many people feel burnt out or overwhelmed. They appreciate the friendships made, opportunity to share and process their emotions, the new perspectives gained to lift their emotional and mental burden, and the awareness that they are not alone” says Shane. There is now a waitlist for many of these sessions. And, it is attracting a growing diversity of people of different ages, walks of life, and life experiences.

Even more encouragingly, the practice of and learnings from these Growth Circles are being incorporated into the curriculum at SUSS, for undergraduates studying psychology while postgraduate students will undergo the Growth Facilitators training. Longer-term, Shane says the goal is to build a sustainable, scalable offering that bolsters not just mental wellbeing, but employability, as well as community resilience.

“We are grateful to Johnson & Johnson Foundation. Without their funding, the dream would have taken much longer to materialise,” says Shane. And ultimately, its success has hinged on different stakeholders across the charitable, government and private philanthropic sectors working together to engender change.

“A collective allows a diverse group of stakeholders to work together to reinforce each other’s efforts and achieve more impact. Through Johnson & Johnson Foundation’s funding, CFS took on a backbone role in the collective to align activities, establish shared measurement practices, while mobilising and managing resources,” says CFS.

Growth Collective SG has a promising pipeline of projects. This includes running Growth Circles for residents of Nee Soon South Community Centre and Yuhua Community Club, a partnership with the National Gallery to combine Growth Circles with their How to Art with Friends program for its upcoming Wellness Festival, and an MOU with the Institute for Human Resource Professionals to hone skills for workplace wellbeing.

Enabling community well-being takes an entire ecosystem working together in partnership. Growth Collective SG has officially launched its Together, We Grow movement on 1 April 2023. Join the movement, collaborate with us, and bring Growth Circles to every part of Singapore. Find out more here.

To find out more about how CFS empowers collaborative philanthropy, click here .

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