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A turning point for community philanthropy
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Opinion

A turning point for community philanthropy

John Doe
John Doe
Woman delivering a speech at a podium, inspiring the audience with her words.

In the life of any organisation, there are special moments that will be remembered as being turning points.

Last month, CFS held our Philanthropy Forum 2019, where we were extremely privileged to have keynote speaker Ms Eileen Heisman share with us several crucial moments in her career that fueled the growth of National Philanthropic Trust (NPT). As its President and CEO, Eileen has been responsible for steering NPT to raising an incredible US$13 billion in charitable contributions over the last 22 years.

Some of you might know Eileen was a founding member of CFS’s international advisory committee 10 years ago. As we come full circle, Eileen was once again in town to encourage, challenge and inspire us with a vision of what CFS can achieve.

Stepping into a new phase of growing philanthropy in Singapore, I believe this time will be remembered as a turning point in CFS’s history, in more ways than one.

We know that community philanthropy is poised for exponential growth in the next decade. The past year has been a phenomenal year for CFS– in financial year 2018, CFS achieved a year-on-year, four-fold increase in donations amounting to S$35 million. A big thank you to our donors, community partners and collaborators for helping to make this possible.

But what else is needed to create lasting social change? How can we grow from smaller, ad hoc and fragmented giving to bigger, better and smarter giving? Donor advised funds are the way to go as they enable smarter, better giving by helping donors give more thought to the purpose of their charitable dollars.

To take CFS into the future, CFS also welcomed our new Chairman Christine Ong on 1 April, taking over the reins from Laurence Lien. I am deeply honoured to have worked closely with Laurence to build a strong foundation for CFS and confident Christine’s extensive experience in banking and finance, corporate social responsibility and the community will usher CFS into a new phase of growth.

It may be another 10 or 20 years before we look back again at this moment, but I’m sure it will be one we will all be proud of.

Catherine Loh
CEO
Community Foundation of 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 Nadia Ahmad Samdin: Changing the game for giving  

John Doe
John Doe
portrait of nadia

CFS’s #MyGivingJourney series portrays extraordinary women and their efforts in philanthropy. This story features Nadia Ahmad Samdin, CFS’s legacy giving ambassador and a woman who wears many hats. 

Many who donate to charity often ask: For every dollar they give, what good actually comes of it? Nadia Ahmad Samdin believes increasingly, we will be able to answer that. In a world where tracking usage is commonplace – from our phone use to carbon footprint– a data-driven approach to philanthropy could be a game-changer. The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) aligns with Nadia’s belief and strives to be a trustworthy organisation that is transparent and accountable.  

Nadia is Counsel & Project Leader at Tri-Sector Associates, a pioneering social enterprise that is finding innovative ways to solve complex social problems. In June 2021, Tri-Sector launched the first Social Impact Guarantee (SIG) with the Lorinet Foundation, TL Whang Foundation and the YMCA for its Vocational and Soft Skills Programme, which helps empower vulnerable youths. But here’s what’s pivotal: the SIG offers donors a money-back guarantee if targets are not met. This outcomes-based funding is relatively new but is gaining traction with impact-minded donors who focus on what works and are willing to provide capacity building support to charitable organisations, Nadia says.   

Community has defined Nadia’s life from a young age. She began volunteering when she was in secondary school and by her 20s, her calendar was full serving with community initiatives such as the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, Lembaga Biasiswa Kenangan Maulud (an IPC), the South East Community Development Council and the National Youth Council. 

After graduating from Singapore Management University, Nadia embarked on a career at TSMP Law Corporation. Her six years in corporate law taught her to “bridge divides, come up with creative solutions and put myself in others’ shoes to work towards outcomes which are mutually agreed upon”, she says.   

In 2020, she became a member of parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, making the 31-year-old one of Singapore’s youngest parliamentarians. Nadia has also served as a panel adviser to the Youth Court and worked with girls who have done reformative training. These diverse experiences have made her an authentic voice on issues close to her heart such as youths at risk, mental health, inequality and the environment.  During her free time, she also participates in marine clean-ups, including as a volunteer diver with Our Singapore Reefs, a ground-up initiative formed by marine biologists with an interest in coral conservation.   

Nadia is also a legacy giving ambassador for CFS’s A Greater Gift campaign, which is rallying Singaporeans to leave a legacy through planned charitable gifts. CFS works with donors to structure their giving so that people can leave insurance monies, CPF savings, marketable securities and even tangible assets to the causes they care deeply about.   

You don’t need to have very deep pockets to make a transformative and lasting impact, Nadia emphasises. “As someone who went to school with the help of financial assistance, I know how precious it is to be given an opportunity by someone who believes in you,” she says. “Everyone can make a difference,” says this young changemaker. “Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can.” 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more stories 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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News

The Community Foundation of Singapore spreads greater love through effective use of charitable gifts

John Doe
John Doe
portrait of CFS CEO Catherine Loh

Catherine Loh, the CEO of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), recently spoke to Lianhe Zaobao to share more about the work the organisation is doing. CFS has over 13 years of expertise in philanthropy advisory, fund administration and grantmaking and has been recognised for its commitment to transparency and governance. Hence donors can be confident that their grants will help meet the evolving needs of the community – now and into the future.  

As shared by Ms Catherine Loh, the CEO of CFS: “With falling birth rates and a rising elderly population, philanthropy can focus more on the elderly in the coming years. While the government take cares of the basic needs, there is much that the general public can do to improve the quality of life of the elderly, give them dignity and allow them to have a meaningful and active third age. 

In the area of education, in addition to the young, we should also be helping adult learners who need additional support as they re-train due to disruptions brought on by rapidly changing technology.” 

Catherine Loh also shared that, following last year’s outpour of generosity, CFS saw how much Singaporeans care about others – supporting programmes relating to the disadvantaged, education, health and more. The Sayang Sayang Fund, established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has drawn over S$9 million in donations from 5,185 individual and corporate donors, helping an estimated 136,000 individuals across Singapore.  

Since its establishment, CFS has collected a total of 192 million, distributing more than 114 million dollars in grants and is currently managing a total of 162 charitable funds. As a charitable organization, CFS helps individuals and corporates set up and manage their own donor-advised funds, supporting causes which they are passionate about.   

Building on the momentum of the launch of the Legacy Giving Initiative and “A Greater Gift” campaign, CFS is focusing on growing knowledge of legacy giving and the value of gifts to charity. A poll – conducted by CFS and NVPC between April and July last year with survey firm Toluna – found that 6 in 10 agree that everyone can make a legacy gift. Going forward, CFS will focus on highlighting ways of making gifts, as well as encouraging and enabling philanthropy conversations – whether at dinner tables or in office settings. 

CFS recognise that, while there is awareness, more information is needed to help individuals make informed decisions. CFS actively reaches out to legal and financial professional advisors, to share about the donor-advised fund as a modern tool for planning philanthropy. It is our hope that professional advisors will more frequently include charitable giving in conversations about wealth planning with clients.  

One example of CFS’s donor-advised fund would be the SR Nathan Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF), which has distributed millions of dollars to bursaries, scholarships and various financial assistance programmes, to support financially disadvantaged students to smoothly advance to higher education. 

As shared by Mr Bobby Chin, Chairman of the Grant Advisory Committee of the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund: “President Nathan’s life epitomises the spirit of generosity, caring and giving. He was a tireless giver. Known to come from humble beginnings himself, he was always known to have a heart for the less privileged in society. 

As we celebrate the Fund’s 10th anniversary, we are happy to share that the SRNEUF has disbursed over $3.7 million to support ITE, polytechnic and university students through awards, bursaries, scholarships as well as monthly financial assistance.” 

The other example is the Dr. Lim Boon Tiong Foundation which donated 24 million dollars from his estate, to assist elderly and terminal patients, and fund cancer research. Working as a doctor till the age of 80, Dr Lim’s medical background and life experiences shaped his interest in helping the elderly and those suffering from urological conditions. After he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his 70s, Dr Lim became interested in supporting urological cancer research.  

His daughter Sylvia revealed that her father was frustrated because he was unable to help her grandfather who also had prostate issues. When he became ill himself, he wanted more research in this area to benefit future generations. 

Dr Lim passed away prior to the establishment of the fund, leaving his wishes to be executed by his adult children.  

In 2018, his daughters Sylvia and Ivy set up the Dr Lim Boon Tiong Foundation, a donor-advised fund with CFS – with a gift of $24 million supporting causes that Dr Lim was passionate about. 

CFS worked with them to identify and support projects such as the Dr Joseph Lim Boon Tiong Urology Cancer Research Initiative at the National University of Singapore (NUH), Catholic Welfare Services (CWS) and Assisi Hospice. 

This translated article was originally published by Lianhe Zaobao 

Credit: Lianhe Zaobao © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.  

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Stories Of Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Providing a Guiding Hand

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

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

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

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

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Opinion

How Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs) present an innovative and structured solution to Singapore’s philanthropic landscape

John Doe
John Doe
a hands holding small wooden blocks with letters on them

A history of giving in Singapore and its philanthropic landscape

Philanthropy has seen an evolution over the years, which saw a corresponding increase in family support services due to the development of more HDBs to house our growing population.

As the philanthropic landscape developed and progressed, there was a more targeted response in the 90s by philanthropists seeking to fill in the gaps in philanthropy and wanting to have more of a say in order to shake up the system.

As a result, CFS was founded to promote philanthropy, seeing as philanthropists were stepping up and starting family foundations, and how Singapore has a very active philanthropy landscape in spite of its size.

To date, the current number of charities in Singapore stands at over 2000. However, it was not only charities that received donations but also social enterprises and ground-up groups, especially during the Covid-19 period.

There are very stringent processes to achieve a charity status, charities in Singapore are generally well managed and of the 2000 charities, 600 have attained an IPC status.

“Singaporeans have also been extremely generous thus far, and gave a total of 1.9 billion in 2019. This generosity is an important focal point, as there is an onus and more incentives for charities to work directly with philanthropists and givers to come up with new and innovative programmes,” says Catherine, CEO of CFS.

Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs) and CFS’s role as a community foundation in Singapore

CFS’s role as a community foundation in the philanthropic ecosystem is to enable philanthropy, foster giving and promote values such as the Legacy Giving Initiative (LGI). The LGI is a concept that anyone in Singapore, regardless of status and wealth, can leave a legacy by giving to a cause close to their heart.

As philanthropy continues to evolve, donors have become more discerning and want to know how the impact of their philanthropy is measured.

There is also a need for philanthropy in Singapore despite it being a wealthy city state, as there is still relative poverty and thus a need to uplift every segment of the nation. There are key issues that need support and funding in Singapore, three areas of which are our rapidly aging society, social income inequality, and inclusivity and sustainability; where people with disabilities and environmental issues need support.

CFS is also seeing an increase in international donors in Singapore, which could be Singaporeans looking to expand their overseas businesses in Singapore, or foreigners setting up family offices in Singapore.

By partnering with CFS, a donor can establish a named donor-advised fund (DAF), a modern philanthropy tool.

A DAF is a simple and cost-effective way to support a wide range of charities in Singapore. CFS will handle the fund administration and provide philanthropy advice to ensure that our donor’s giving makes a strategic impact to the causes that our donors support. 

With a DAF, donors can enjoy upfront tax deductions in Singapore at the prevailing tax deduction rate1 on eligible donations.

1Subject to IRAS regulations. 

How to get started? 

DAFs can be set up by an individual, a beneficiary of a will, a trust, or by a family office. 

CFS philanthropy advisors will inquire about the donor’s interests and leveraging on deep understanding of local issues and extensive network, CFS has unparalleled insight into Singapore’s charitable landscape and community needs to translate the donor’s interests and goals into a defined plan.

CFS handles all the administration required in managing the DAF, donors will save on legal expenses and enjoy tax deductions upfront. Donors will also receive regular statements tracking incoming donations to the DAF and outgoing disbursements to charities.

CEO Catherine Loh gives a WMI-GFO Circle Impact Masterclass on CFS’s role in philanthropy in Singapore 

CFS’s CEO Catherine Loh was invited as a guest speaker and part of the panel to speak about CFS and philanthropy in a WMI-GFO Circle Impact Masterclass webinar organised by the Wealth Management Institute (WMI) titled ‘Global Giving, Asian Innovation’.

The webinar’s aim is to address how philanthropy can support the greatest issues of our times, including issues stemming from ever-rising income inequality and climate change, to the health of our civil society and the pandemic.

The panel presentation hopes to empower family office principals, representatives and philanthropy advisors to help their clients achieve their philanthropic goals, and offer best practices, tips, and considerations for advisors serving philanthropists and their family offices.

If you would like to begin your giving journey with CFS, get in touch with us.

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