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A turning point for community philanthropy
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Opinion

A turning point for community philanthropy

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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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Opinion

Giving mental health a boost – why it matters

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When the pandemic hit, seemingly overnight, daily routines and livelihoods were forever changed. Children could no longer play outdoors; youths saw lost time with friends, school, graduations and more; while adults straddle an ever-changing array of challenges – from coping with loss of work to additional care-giving duties. 

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Events

CFS wins Charity Transparency Award for the second time

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It is important that we continue to work together to foster a safe giving environment for Singaporeans, so that we can support the causes we believe in. So that Singaporeans can step forward to support the causes that they believe in with a peace of mind.

For the second time, the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) is greatly honoured to have won the Charity Transparency Award at the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards 2022. The accolade, given out by the Charity Council, recognises CFS’s exemplary disclosure and transparency practices. 

CFS was one of 85 charities that received the Charity Transparency Awards this year. This is the highest tally since the awards were launched in 2016 and is an encouraging sign that more charities are implementing better transparency practices. The record number also indicates that disclosure and accountability standards are strengthening in Singapore’s philanthropic sector. 

The ceremony was held on 9 November 2022 and Mr Edwin Tong, Minister of Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law graced the occasion. Our Chairperson, Ms. Christine Ong, received the award from the Commissioner of Charities, Mr. Desmond Chin. Organised by the Charity Council, the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards lauds nonprofits for their stellar efforts in upholding governance and building public trust in the sector. 

At CFS, transparency is a critical element of the philanthropic equation. “Transparency builds trust and ultimately leads to better engagement and giving,” says Catherine Loh, CEO of CFS. “We believe in being open about our organisation, performance, priorities, and impact and communicating this clearly with all stakeholders. As a leading foundation and grantmaker, CFS is grateful to be a repeat winner of the Charity Transparency Award. We will continue to strive for the highest standards of transparency to honour the trust placed in us by our donors and to continuously improve to better serve our charity partners, funders, and the wider public,” she adds. 

Since our inception in 2012, good corporate governance has been a central pillar of our operations and management. CFS is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of experienced and dedicated professionals from the private, public, and social services sectors. The Board ensures that CFS’s work is effective and responsible, monitors outcomes, and is accountable to donors and regulators. 

As an organisation that bridges donors and charities, CFS is committed to uplifting standards and sharing knowledge within the philanthropic ecosystem in Singapore. We regularly make available information about our activities, programmes, operations, audited financials, Board, and management through our annual reports, website, and social media pages. 

CFS is thankful to our Board of Directors for their expert guidance and leadership, which has helped transform us into a leading philanthropic intermediary in Singapore. We would also like to thank our many partners, our growing community of donors, and our supporters for their continued trust in our work to make giving more accessible and impactful.

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Opinion

Accessing Quality Education: Beyond the Classroom Walls

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The education of a generation is an extensive and complex undertaking.

Consider the span of time it takes to bring a single individual from nursery and preschool, through the primary and secondary school levels to the various branches of tertiary education. This journey could range from at least 12 years to almost three decades for the dedicated academic.

Keep in mind the need to cater to the individual’s development along the entire stretch in terms of how he or she learns, their psychosocial, physical, emotional and mental health, and their attitudes during the learning process. Now multiply that by over 30,000 for the number of students in each cohort year in Singapore, and you get a sense of the seemingly impossible task that faces the Ministry of Education.

The 32,000 plus teachers in Singapore (MOE, 2021) are doing a highly commendable job as it is. Singapore is ranked 21st in the latest education ranking of the Best Countries Report (World Population Review, 2022) and topped the world in the 2018 Global Competence test, conducted as part of the Programme for International Student Assessment (ST, 2020).

The Singapore education system also has facilities and options for those with learning disabilities, allowing those with conditions such as autism and Down syndrome to obtain a formal education, with pathways to employment for those who are able to do so.

There is a plethora of exit points for those who graduate from the education system here. Besides those with learning disabilities, one could complete formal education after attaining a polytechnic diploma, a university degree or even a doctorate.

While some of that depends on their innate aptitude for study, the students’ early childhood education plays a large part. While it is compulsory for all Singaporean citizens to attend primary school (MOE, 2021), the same is not true for preschool.

Government statistics reflect that nearly 99% of children in Singapore would have at least some preschool education by the age of six (MSF, 2016). This is commendable, but many still do not get the essential foundation that preschools offer, which leads in part to the learning difficulties (not to be confused with disabilities) that some children may face in keeping pace with their peers (Channel News Asia, 2019).

Learning difficulties are when a child, whose IQ is not affected, finds it challenging to learn in a particular way (MyLife Care, 2018). It could stem from conditions such as dyslexia or psychological issues such as anxiety and depression, inhibiting the child’s learning abilities and approach to studies.

Children with learning difficulties face problems with literacy and numeracy (Raising Children, 2021), which is an issue as English and Mathematics are the two core subjects that determine entry into post-secondary education.

Fortunately, there are many groups who are supporting children and youth struggling with primary and secondary school education. Although they are not teachers per se, the programme staff and volunteers of these groups are helping children with learning difficulties, who are usually from challenging backgrounds, to improve their academic abilities.

For instance, social enterprise Catch Them Young’s programme KidsExcel is partnering with the Lions Community Service Foundation to help primary- and secondary-going school children in their academic curriculum.

KidsExcel complements their tutoring time with workshops in sports and drama, which motivates the children to improve academically and to enjoy these popular activities offered by KidsExcel staff.

“I love interacting with the kids and I want to make a positive impact in their lives,” enthuses volunteer Ms Joycelyn Fung. “I have forged good relationships with the children and their parents. In the two years I have been here, it has been very fulfilling and rewarding to see the kids develop and grow.”

Resilience is a clear lesson learnt by KidsExcel care recipients, with 10-year-old Syakir stating that he would never give up in his pursuits, while 12-year-old Elfie proclaims: “I will never stop when I am tired, but will stop when I am done.”

Staff Madam Haznita shares: “It has been a joy working with the kids. Some came with little confidence and had difficulties adjusting, so we needed to spend time getting to know them better and help them settle. It is very rewarding to know they look forward to KidsExcel classes and seeing them every week. This is what motivates me.”

Another programme, Reading Odyssey by SHINE Children and Youth Services, helps to boost children’s literary abilities by inculcating a love for stories through story-telling and literature-related activities.

Taking these children onto journeys of the imagination to improve their linguistic capabilities are volunteers Bee Peng and Natasha. Every week, they tap into their dramatis personae and bring stories to life for the children.

“I like everything in Reading Odyssey, especially the games,” says P2 student beneficiary Kim Yan. “Teacher Bee Peng helps me to understand how the games are played. She is kind and patient. I thank her for teaching me.”

Bee Peng says: “I believe in the quality of Reading Odyssey; it has a positive impact on the lives of the children and has elements of character building. And I truly enjoy interacting with the children.”

Another P2 child, Divinya, demonstrates her newfound verbosity: “I like the games in Reading Odyssey and the snacks given out. My teacher Natasha helps me with reading unfamiliar words. If I don’t know the words, she helps me to pronounce them and tells me the meaning of the words. She is always present for the sessions, she never absents herself. She is always there for me. Thank you teacher, for teaching me and giving me lots of stars.” Divinya also expressed a wish for Natasha to continue teaching her in Reading Odyssey, a testament to the positive impact that even volunteers can have on our children.

A volunteer since 2017, Natasha believes in the programme’s aim of elevating the children’s self-confidence through learning and reading: “There are many opportunities to interact with the children via discussion of the stories, which allows me to journey with them and help them improve.”

Regardless of their motivation, it is clear from the number of children going through such programmes—about 350 and 180 annually from the KidsExcel and Reading Odyssey programmes—that programme staff and volunteers for such extracurricular activities are just as much teachers to our children as educators in school.

If you would like to support programmes such Reading Odyssey and KidsExcel in providing quality education to our children and make a difference in their lives, please visit Ways to give.

This article was written CFS Principal Consultant Reutens-Tan. He is an experienced sustainability advocate and practitioner, working closely with charities to build thriving communities, which he believes is key to a sustainable Singapore.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CFS or its members.

References

Channel New Asia. (15 September 2019). Commentary: Long-neglected but now in the spotlight, Singapore’s pre-school sectorhttps://www.channelnewsasia.com/commentary/pre-school-enhanced-subsidies-access-moe-kindergartens-859951

Ministry of Education. (18 October 2021). Compulsory education.
https://www.moe.gov.sg/primary/compulsory-education#:~:text=All%20Singapore%20Citizens%20born%20after,deferment%20to%20enter%20Primary%201
.

Ministry of Education. (Accessed 26 July 2022). Education Statistics Digest 2021
https:/www.moe.gov.sg/-/media/files/about-us/education-statistics-digest-2021.ashx?la=en&hash=9E7EFD9B8088817C207F8AE797037AAA2A49F167

MyLife Care. 20 September 2018. What Is The Difference Between ‘Learning Difficulties’ And ‘Learning Disabilities’? https://mylifehomecare.co.uk/insight/learning-difficulties-learning-disabilities-difference/#:~:text=a%20learning%20disability%20constitutes%20a,overall%20IQ%20of%20an%20individual

Raising Children. (2 July 2021). Learning difficulties and learning disorders: children and teenagers.
https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/school-learning/learning-difficulties/learning-disabilities-signs-and-support

The Straits Times. (22 October 2020). Singapore’s 15-year-olds top OECD’s Pisa global competence test.
https://str.sg/J62f

World Population Review. (Accessed 26 July 2022). Education Rankings by Country 2022.  
https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/education-rankings-by-country

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News

Money Mind – Leaving A Legacy

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Two female individuals can be seen in the picture, both dressed in red shirts and holding a volleyball ball.

How can you leave your mark on the world and make an impact on the lives of others?

LISTEN: Catherine Loh, CEO, Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS); lawyer and CFS ambassador, Nadia Ahmad Samdin

Money Mind, weekdays 10am to 2pm on #CNA938.

Speaking after the association’s annual general meeting at Kallang Netball Centre on Friday, Liang-Lin, a fund manager for a US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) firm focused on green real estate investments in Asia, hopes to bring her expertise to the table and increase the amount of financial support for Singapore netball during her four-year term.

The 53-year-old took over from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jessica Tan, who has been the association’s president since 2012. Tan had reached the end of her tenure, which saw the national team make several breakthroughs, including a gold medal at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Liang-Lin holds various appointments such as being Singapore’s representative to the G20 for Women appointed by the Ministry of Finance. She is also a board member of the Community Foundation of Singapore, which promotes philanthropy through facilitating the establishment of charitable funds.

She said: “One of the things that is overlooked when we look at philanthropy and fundraising is that sport is not really part of the things that people will automatically think about.

“Less than one per cent of the funds that we raise in the Community Foundation goes to sport. The values that sport brings need to be amplified more, so that corporates… see the need to support sport. I think that link needs to be stronger so that we get not just more corporate sponsors, but also they can come in for longer periods of time.”

While national agency Sport Singapore provides funding to netball, corporates can also do their part, she added.

She said: “If we play our cards correctly, we can get corporates to come in and hopefully support them, to see the wider purpose of sport and bring the nation together.”

She also hopes the association can be proactive in looking for financial support, adding: “We must work more strategically with governing bodies on educating corporates on the importance of really supporting sport.”

The former netball player also made references to the recent Women’s World Cup for football, noting the “ability for a game that focuses on women in the sport to bring global attention”.

She said: “I want that kind of trajectory of the limelight going to women’s sport. I think that is a trend that will continue, and I hope that netball will be part of that trend.”

Meanwhile, Tan was satisfied that she has achieved the three objectives she had set out to do when she came on board – to improve quality of play, build a fan base and create an ecosystem which involves coaches and players.

The 57-year-old added: “As much as I do feel sad about having to step down, but at the same time, leadership renewal is very important.

“I think Trina will help to galvanise the team together, and bring a lot of new perspectives and quality to the association.”

Join us in making an impact on Singapore sports scene! Reach out to us for more information.

Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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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”。

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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