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Creating social impact through philanthropy
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Creating social impact through philanthropy

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Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely changed your life on a daily basis. Though the pandemic has affected everyone, it hasn’t done so equally – the situations of the most vulnerable groups have been severely aggravated and awareness of our society’s fault lines and underserved needs have been heightened. But, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the tremendous power of common people working together to achieve a unified goal.  

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News

CFS’s first brand campaign ‘Portraits of generosity’ to inspire giving

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"My Cho Cho Ma She started our family's journey of giving" Keith Chua

In tandem with its 10th anniversary, CFS launched its first ever brand campaign ‘Portraits of Generosity’– a series of heart-warming donor stories uncovering each donor’s motivation for giving.

Looking back at their lives, donors share their motivations for why they chose to give back to those in need. Be it an act of kindness, a family member’s compassion or a long tradition of philanthropy, the campaign unearthed the diverse experiences which left a mark on each donor’s life and spurred them to give back. Donors also open up about their philanthropic journey, why they chose to support specific causes and how seamless the giving experience can be through starting a fund with CFS.

The campaign kicked off with six of CFS’s donors: Keith ChuaTrina Liang-Lin and Edmund LinGovind Bommi, Yeo Suan Wei and Liontrust. “We believe that every act of giving is inspired by a story of life, values and experiences. Working with our donors and agency DDB, we brought these stories to life through a relatable and engaging campaign. Through these first-hand accounts of giving, we hope that others will realise that they too, have it in them to open their hearts and give back,” commented Yuen Yee Foong, Head of Marketing at CFS.

Launched across multiple media platforms including video, digital and print, the campaign runs from August to December 2018.

Reflecting upon a growing social consciousness amongst Singaporeans, Catherine Loh, CEO of CFS remarked, “I believe there are many others like our donors in Singapore who want to contribute back to society, but have not considered becoming philanthropists themselves. By sharing their stories on a larger platform, these donors show us what is possible.”

She added, “Their passion reminds us of the joy of giving, especially when giving resonates with causes we care about.”

Read and view ‘Portraits of generosity’ here.

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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 Jenny Wah: Transforming customer experiences to reignite growth

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portrait of jenny wah

#MyGivingJourney is a series by CFS where we feature extraordinary women in Singapore and their efforts in philanthropy. In our last feature, we have one of our own – Jenny Wah, CFS’s Director of Marketing & Communications.

Jenny Wah chalked up over 20 years of marketing experience at several MNC companies. She started in Key Account/Brand Marketing in the FMCG industry with brands such as Coca-Cola & Pokka. Then she spent the bulk of her marketing career in the IT industry with Adobe and Autodesk. She led global teams and worked with diverse clients all over the map. The demands were dizzying, as were her frequent flyer miles.  

It was a career that rewarded on many fronts. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leaving many businesses and employees reeling. The pandemic was called a ‘great equaliser’; however, COVID-19 also revealed glaring inequalities in societies. For her, this was a period of introspection that led to a flash of insight and courage.  Jenny recalls: “I found myself wondering, what could I do that can contribute to a more equal society?”  

So when the opportunity to join the Community Foundation of Singapore came along, she decided to take up the role of Marketing and Strategic Communication Director.   

Equality of opportunity and social mobility have long shaped Jenny’s outlook towards a purposeful life. One of three children of a mechanic and a housewife, she understands the struggles of many lower-income families.  

Growing up, Chinese New Year was a particularly poignant time. For her, it was a window into how altruism can uplift lives: each year, the Chinese clans would give out bursaries to help students in need, as well as items like school books, shoes and uniforms. Jenny was one such beneficiary. 

Education was Jenny’s springboard to a better future. Armed with a B. Business (Honours) degree from NTU and later an MBA, she embarked on a career in sales and marketing, garnering a reputation for her can-do spirit and creative solutions. She often spearheaded her firms’ corporate social responsibility efforts as well, which she found fulfilling. Four years ago, she started volunteering as a museum host at the National Museum of Singapore, feeding her passion for culture and history. 

Crossing over to a nonprofit meant new challenges. Budgets were smaller and there weren’t as many hands on deck. Jenny learnt to work around this by tapping into her network for pro bono services and negotiating goodwill with vendors. She also had to build a team from scratch.  

However, all this was made easier by the warmth and commitment of the people she worked with. “Everyone double or triple hats and works together for the collective and greater good, never losing sight of the big picture” she notes. Most importantly, she adds, “I see my work here initiating positive change and making a difference.”  

Jenny believes that technology can deliver an impactful customer journey in a consistent, personalized and scalable fashion through transformative concepts such as marketing automation, nurturing through compelling content and relationship marketing. 

“For me ‘Customer Experience’ is not marketing fluff, it’s a work ideology that needs to be at the core of everything we do professionally. I believe that both ‘People’ and the ‘Promises’ we make are at the very heart of CFS’s Brand. I am proud to work in CFS which offers the unique opportunity to be a part of something that will profoundly impact society,” she says. 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more 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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Events

FutureChina Global Forum: CFS CEO Advocates for the Integration of Philanthropy into Wealth Management Strategies

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Catherine Loh Speaking

What is the civic responsibility of wealthy individuals and corporations?

What are the ways they can include philanthropy in their wealth management strategies to create a lasting impact on society?

These thought-provoking questions were discussed in a dynamic panel session titled “Strategic Philanthropy – Enabling Wealth for Lasting Impact” at the FutureChina Global Forum 2023, which was attended by over 800 business leaders. The panel comprised CFS CEO Ms Catherine Loh, Mr Feng Lun, Founder of the Vantone Group and Chairman of the Yufeng Group; Mr Laurence Lien, Chairman and Acting CEO of Asia Philanthropy Circle; and Mr Lionel Li Xiaobo, Founder and Chairman of the Li Foundation, and was moderated by Mr Zhou Zhaocheng, Chairman of Super Hi International Holding Ltd.

Catherine highlighted that even in an affluent society, certain needs and gaps would require philanthropic support. Besides supporting basic needs, philanthropists can also provide catalytic capital for innovative programmes, anticipating the problems of the future and solving them, for example, the Lien Foundation funds research to delay ageing and reduce the number of years people spend living in ill health.

She emphasised there are many ways civil society can work with the government and charitable organisations to solve complex social issues together. Other than financial donations, philanthropists can also contribute their expertise, corporate resources, and mentorship to create solutions. 

She highlighted that as part of the recently announced government-led initiative Forward SG, CFS will lead a collaborative effort aimed at strengthening Singapore’s social compact. Under the collective, diverse stakeholders will come together, pooling their expertise and resources to tackle issues such as social mobility, employment disruptions caused by technological changes, the implications of an ageing society, and other pertinent issues.

Are you passionate about supporting causes you care about? Let us help you understand the needs and recommend relevant programs. Find out more at https://www.cf.org.sg/giving/ways-to-give/


The FutureChina Global Forum is Asia’s most prestigious bilingual international forum, attended by more than 800 distinguished business leaders, public figures, experts, and thought leaders from Singapore, China, and neighbouring areas. The 14th edition, themed “Pathway to Clarity – Charting the Future”, brought together 37 leading experts to dissect developmental trends driving China’s economy on 27th October.

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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.

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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