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Eileen Heisman: Donor advised funds are a flexible tool that can adapt to changing giving interests
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Eileen Heisman: Donor advised funds are a flexible tool that can adapt to changing giving interests

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A woman confidently delivering a speech at a podium, standing before a sign, conveying her message with conviction and authority.

(Excerpts from a keynote speech by Eileen Heisman, President and CEO, National Philanthropic Trust delivered at the CFS Philanthropy Forum 2019)

When I was here in Singapore a decade ago as part of the Community Foundation of Singapore’s (CFS) international advisory committee, the idea of being involved in the global launch of a community foundation was so exciting to me. Everyone here was really eager to learn. They wanted to have impact. I knew CFS was going to set its own path.

Over 22 years ago, I was sitting in a dark, private cubicle trying to figure out what to do with this brand new charity I was part of. Today, National Philanthropic Trust (NPT) – which is the largest independent donor advised fund (DAF) administrator in the United States – has raised US$13 billion in charitable contributions and currently manages US$7.4 billion in charitable assets. In recent years, we’ve started making global grants of around US$700 million to over 75 countries.

I see a lot of similarities between CFS’s journey and my time in that small cubicle. CFS has raised S$130 million and given away S$70 million. With this incredible talent, opportunity and resources you have here, I believe there’s so much more CFS can grow as a community foundation.

What compels a potential donor to act? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this question throughout my career working with donor advised funds. Just as every person comes to this earth with different gifts and backgrounds, donors have vastly different philanthropic goals. I’ve had the privilege of getting inside the thinking of donors and understanding what excites them about philanthropy. One of the biggest moments in my career at NPT was when a donor from New York City donated US$200 million to us. He was an early adopter and one of those people who saw opportunity.

I like to say donors don’t give to us, they give through us. Donor advised funds are flexible. They are relatively inexpensive. They can meet and adapt to changing interests. If you were interested in a cause when you were younger and that changes as you grow older, you’re not wedded to that particular cause because you can shape the fund according to your preferences. Philanthropy is also about legacy. A DAF is a tool you can spend down over your lifetime or you can pass it down to your children.

It’s one of the reasons why donor DAFs are the fastest growing philanthropic tool in the United States. The number of DAFs has doubled in the US over the last five years. In addition to Singapore, there is growing interest in DAFs in Asia, from China, India, Hong Kong to Japan. As a philanthropic tool, I believe DAFs are going to become more and more popular.

If I had to give a piece of advice to new donors: when you’re getting started with giving through DAFs, it’s important not to overcomplicate the process. Start simple. Find two or three causes you really like. Find one or two good charities in each of those categories, and support those charities over three to five years.

With any social issue, nothing gets solved within one year. In the social sector, we learn about solutions to existing problems from trying new things. Don’t be afraid to fund solutions that are new because it’s the only way we learn. It’s as important to fund failure as it is to fund success.

One of the wonderful things about being part of a community foundation is that it truly is a way to make the world a better place. Doing it with partners and the community’s collective effort makes the journey so much more enjoyable than doing it alone.

Eileen Heisman
President and CEO
National Philanthropic Trust

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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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News

Singapore Tatler: Living Legacy

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Engaging magazine article highlighting living legends, individuals whose exceptional contributions have made them iconic figures in their respective domains.

More people are starting to think about philanthropy and giving back, instead of leaving it as a post-retirement consideration. Thio Shen Yi and Stefanie Yuen Thio, and Adrian and Susan Peh tell Singapore Tatler how they are making more strategic and effective giving through their private charity funds with the Community Foundation of Singapore.
Read more.

Courtesy of Singapore Tatler, October 2018

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”。

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Stories Of Impact

Spreading the Holiday Cheer: CFS Contribute Year-End Meal to Melrose Home Residents & Staff

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As the year 2023 drew to a close and office parties were being planned, the staff at CFS decided to redirect their staff celebration budget from traditional year-end parties and gift exchanges. Instead, they chose to sponsor a special New Year’s Eve dinner for the children and youth of Melrose Home, and contributed by purchasing grocery vouchers, hoping to bring joy and warmth to them during the holiday season.

At CFS’s monthly Town Hall, representatives from Children’s Aid Society Ms Serlina Huang, Manager of Community Partnerships and Ms May Su Paing, Communications Executive from Children’s Aid Society, visited along with their colleagues from Melrose Home, Ms Michelle Chen, and Mr Timothy Pang. Together they offered the CFS team valuable insights into the home’s operations and needs, enhancing their understanding of how donor contributions can benefit the beneficiaries. Ms Tricia Lee, Director of Communications & Marketing at CFS then presented grocery vouchers that the CFS staff had contributed, to support the purchase of essential items for the residents of Melrose Home. 

Mr Alvin Goh, Executive Director of Children’s Aid Society shares, ‘We are grateful for this heartwarming gesture from the Community Foundation of Singapore and thank the CFS team for spreading the holiday cheer to our residents. It is heartwarming to see the community coming together to help improve the lives of those in challenging situations.’

Melrose Home, a service under the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), is a residential home for children and youths aged 6 to 21. Their residents have experienced challenging family circumstances or child protection issues that led to them being removed from their family homes. 

The organisation has been a CFS grantee since 2022, and our donors have generously contributed to supporting Melrose Home in its mission. CAS is currently appealing for donations to help transform its premises at Clementi Road into “Melrose Village”, which will enable residents to have more living space, and offer purpose-built facilities, advanced counselling and psychological services. To find out how you can contribute, visit https://www.cf.org.sg/giving/ways-to-give/ 

References:

https://childrensaidsociety.org.sg/melrose-home/

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News

Business Times: As they received, they now give

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A snapshot of a newspaper Business Times: As they received, they now give

Education is a force for good and a cause that Trina Liang-Lin and Edmund Lin are passionate about supporting.

Education has been pivotal in both their lives, paving stones to their successful careers. Ms Liang-Lin, 47, is the managing director of investment research consulting firm Templebridge Investments, and married to Mr Lin, 49, partner and founding member of Bain & Company’s Singapore office.

She is known for her passion for women’s empowerment. The past-president of the Singapore Committee for UN Women sits on the boards of several non-profits including the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations and Victoria Junior College. He has devoted time and expertise to the Singapore Management University (SMU), serving on its boards.

“Both of us, we see education as the ultimate leveller. We saw it in both our lives,” says Ms Liang-Lin.

A giving shaped by education
Thinking back to her days as a St Joseph’s Convent schoolgirl, Ms Liang-Lin recalls walking through the school compound each morning, climbing the flight of stairs to the school hall and seeing a bronze plaque bearing the name of philanthropist Tan Kah Kee who had given money to build that hall.

“It made an impression on me,” she says, that someone with no obvious ties to the school and its students would decide to give. For that school still means much to her today. It was where some of her deepest friendships were forged.

That plaque led her to notice similar plaques elsewhere, such as a list of donors and their donations towards the building of what is today’s Singapore Art Museum. The three-digit figures seem insignificant now, yet, helped raise buildings of such significance. “It impressed upon me that for a sum like that you can leave such an important legacy,” says Ms Liang-Lin.

Later, she would receive a scholarship to study abroad – an opportunity that would have been out of reach without a scholarship. “It did change my life,” she says.

Education, and the generosity of others, changed Mr Lin’s life too.

His parents arrived in the United States as struggling graduate students from Taiwan and Hong Kong. But they were shown hospitality and care. Mr Lin remembers one American couple that looked out for his mother, offered their backyard as a venue for his parents’ wedding, and then hosted his family for numerous Thanksgiving dinners.

“From a young age, I always felt that my parents, my brother and I all benefitted from the kindness of others,” he says.

His parents’ education was a gateway to a comfortable life in the U.S. for their family. And eventually, Mr Lin himself was awarded scholarships that secured him a high-quality college education without any financial burden.

How much is enough?
The couple acknowledge that the volunteering they did during their college years – Ms Liang-Lin served at nursing homes while Mr Lin volunteered as a mentor at college and with San Francisco’s Chinatown YMCA – came to a halt when they first joined the workforce in demanding jobs.

Their 20s were intensely focused on work and establishing their careers. “It was really more in our early to mid-30s that we said, okay, we’re at a certain level of accomplishment and comfort. Now is a good time to have a more purposeful life,” says Mr Lin.

One question they had discussed, Ms Liang-Lin says, was: how much is enough? “I think the secret of success in a lifetime is knowing when enough is enough for you.”

“Enough” is not about an amount, nor a specific age. “It is very different from person to person, family to family, but it’s a state of mind – that you feel you are content and it is now time to give back to the society that allowed you to become who you are,” she says.

And so, they began giving their time and resources.

Six years into working life, Ms Liang-Lin helped found the Financial Women’s Association Singapore to provide women in finance with a support network. The association soon searched for charities to support, kicking off her philanthropic work in earnest. Mr Lin too, began contributing his time and expertise, starting with SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business Advisory Board and subsequently joining the SMU Board of Trustees.

And as a couple, they began giving to causes they felt strongly about: education, gender equality, animal welfare and the arts.

The multiplier effect of structured giving
It was while they were looking for a meaningful way to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary that Ms Liang-Lin and Mr Lin began to mull over taking things a step further to formalise their giving.

“We spoke with Mr Teng Ngiek Lian of the Silent Foundation, who encouraged us to start our philanthropy journey now, rather than wait. He also gave us a better sense of what was needed to set up a private foundation – staffing, resources, expertise and governance,” says Ms Liang-Lin.

They also had a serious chat with Laurence Lien, chairman of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), and eventually decided to set up the Lin Foundation, a fund managed by CFS, with an initial six-figure sum.

“As busy professionals and younger philanthropists, CFS saves us the work and resources needed to set up our Lin Foundation. CFS provides us with philanthropy management and grant-making expertise, ensuring that our grants are effective and meaningful,” says Ms Liang-Lin.

Other draws were how CFS works with a broad range of charities, offers donors a structured charitable vehicle that provides relevant tax deductions on donations, and, importantly, offers the flexibility to grow their fund over time.

Mr Lin cites the Lin Foundation’s scholarship for SMU students lacking the finances to pursue a semester abroad, as one initiative that could be scaled up. “CFS helped us with the selection of candidates, disbursement, administration, etcetera. I can imagine, with the help of CFS, expanding on homegrown initiatives like this, scaling them up.”

They may have chosen to set up their foundation at a relatively young age, but Ms Liang-Lin believes they are a part of a growing trend.

“Increasingly, people are realising that they don’t have to wait till they are older and richer to give back and make an impact. The proliferation of new media platforms is reshaping attitudes and approaches to giving. There is a growing awareness of social problems, and how these can be tackled by contributing funding support, knowledge and expertise,” she says.

To Mr Lin, giving adds much to his life. “Giving creates for me a lot of meaning in my life. The pursuit of economic goals will only take you so far. The time one spends giving back to a community creates great energy. Yes, it takes time. But this is time that creates more energy and the capacity to do more.”

And, he likes being able to give together with his wife. “We both, professionally, have quite a lot going on. But this is one thing we can share, do together, and find great pride and meaning in.”

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings 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”。

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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.

Stories Of Impact

Karim Family Foundation: Donor-Advised Fund Raises $200,000 to Support Local Sports Champion Loh Kean Yew 印尼富商林益洲家族基金拨20万元奖励骆建佑

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In December 2021, 24-year-old Loh Kean Yew became the first Singaporean to win the Badminton World Federation World Championships in Huelva, Spain. 

With his unyielding fighting spirit and humble personality, Loh took the spotlight and became a sporting legend. Loh’s commitment to his sports attracted the attention of many – including those around the world and region.

Underscoring his rising popularity in Indonesia, the Karim Family Foundation, set up by the Indonesian-Chinese tycoon Bachtiar Karim’s family with The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), awarded Loh with a donation of $200,000 for winning the Badminton World Federation World Championships. 

The Karim Family Foundation wanted to congratulate Loh, now ranked as the world’s number 15 in men’s singles, for his win and hoped that the cash would motivate him to continue pursuing his sporting dreams. 

The foundation contacted the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) through the Singapore Press Holding Media Trust’s Chinese Media Group and under the stewardship of CFS.

Bachtiar Karim is the Group Executive Chairman of Singapore-headquartered oil conglomerate, Musim Mas. Musim Mas is an integrated palm oil firm run by Bachtiar Karim with his brothers, Burhan and Bahari. In 2021, according to Forbes, the Karim family had a cumulative net worth of around US$3.5 billion (S$4.7 billion), ranked 10th richest in Indonesia.

Through the decades, the Karim Family Foundation has donated to local charities and has had a focus on sports development, arts and culture, education and mental health sectors. The businessman is known for his philanthropy, having gifted S$2.27 million to his alma mater, the National University of Singapore, to start a professorship in sustainability in its business school in 2010 and another S$5 million to various causes, including the Singapore General Hospital and the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, in 2020. Despite his justified bragging rights, the businessman himself prefers to keep a low profile with his philanthropic work.

On behalf of the Karim Family Foundation, Chayadi Karim, son of Bachtiar Karim and the main manager of the family fund, told Lianhe Zaobao: “We have always believed in giving back to society. The purpose of the Karim Family Foundation Fund is to support all kinds of meaningful social activities. This time we want to reward Loh Kean Yew, and we hope that youths will set him as a role model. I think Loh Kean Yew is amazing. Badminton competitions are very fierce, in addition to skills, winning also depends on strong willpower. I have observed this young man for a long time, and I admire his never-say-die fighting spirit.”

Chayadi Karim expressed his and his family’s support for Loh in nine words: ‘play badminton well, play badminton well, play badminton well (好打球,打好球,打球好)’, hoping that Loh will continue to give his best and play well without worries, bringing back more glory for himself. “It also proves that it is good to play sports, not just a hobby, but also as a career. It inspires more young people to devote themselves to sports, so that the standard of sports in Singapore will continue to improve,” Chayadi Karim adds.

Bachtiar’s daughter, Cindy Karim, another key administrator of the fund, said: “Our family is inspired by Loh Kean Yew’s tenacity, and it is also touching that he remains humble after such an impressive achievement. Through the Community Foundation of Singapore, we will try my best to inspire more youths to be future ‘Loh Kean Yew’s in Singapore.”

Commenting on the award, Loh who is currently playing in India for the India Open, told Lianhe Zaobao: “After I won the World Championships, well-wishers and sponsors such as Mr Karim sent me many rewards and encouragement, and I feel touched and immense gratitude for what I received. For athletes, this is a recognition of our hard work and sacrifice. Giving my best for my country has always been my number one priority. Knowing that there are so many generous people out there who are very supportive and encouraging local athletes is great and very important to me. There are so many people who have helped me in my life that I can’t thank them individually. I would not be on the podium without the support and encouragement of so many.”

Lawrence Leow, President of SBA, said: “We are deeply grateful to Mr Karim for his care and support for Kean Yew. Kean Yew’s performance on the court has inspired the imagination of a new generation of badminton fans and conveys an important message. Even though we are a small country, with the support of the many, we can still achieve good results.”

The Badminton World Championships is an event that only counts points and does not offer bonuses. The competition is not part of the “Major Games Award Programme” of the Singapore Olympic Council and therefore, Loh Kean Yew did not receive any monetary rewards despite his glorious return home.

On top of the latest S$200,000 awarded to Loh by the Karim Family Foundation, SBA revealed last week that Loh has been rewarded with an amount over S$250,000, combining a donation from local business people and public crowdfunding. Chinese sports brand Li-Ning, a sponsor of SBA, is also negotiating a long-term sponsorship contract for Loh, worth over six figures.

Previously, five local businesspeople in Singapore also raised S$50,000 for Loh after he was conferred the title of world champion and awarded the gold medal. The five businesspeople are Ang Kiam Meng, executive director and group chief executive officer (CEO) of Jumbo Group, Daryl Neo, co-founder and CEO of DC Frontiers, Dora Hoan, group CEO and co-chairman of Best World International, Eugene Ang, managing director of JK Technology, and Wei Chan, managing director of Pine Garden’s Cake. 

Subsequently, Chan, who led the first fundraising, set up another donation fund called the ‘Low Kean Yew Encouragement Fund’ via Ray of Hope earlier this year to allow contributions from the members of the public to contribute. Chan started the new initiative after many members of the public approached him hoping to show their gratitude in a similar way. Collectively, at the time of this writing, the two funds have raised over S$210,000. 

If you too, would like to support a meaningful cause of your choice, please read more here.

This translated article was adapted from the feature within Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报 here. Source: Lianhe Zaobao 联合早报 © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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