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Feeling good about giving
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Opinion

Opinion

Feeling good about giving

John Doe
John Doe
one man hugging another man

It’s the season for giving and besides getting gifts for our loved ones, many of us will also be giving to charities we usually support.

But over the years, if you are wondering whether you are merely writing a cheque or really helping the needy, perhaps this is a good time to take stock. Gain a better understanding of who you are helping and the kind of difference you are making. Many of CFS’ donors start with this thought, and I am happy to share some tips that can help make your year-end giving more meaningful.

Know your own motivations and resources
Consider your motivations and expectations when you donate. What prompts you to donate? What sort of impact are you expecting? How quickly do you want to see results? How much time can you set aside to learn more about a cause or social issue? These questions can help you to gain greater clarity on why you give, and whether your expectations are realistic.

If apart from donating, you would also like to volunteer, assess your ability to deliver by considering your time, money, commitment and expertise. Perhaps you would like to be on the organising committee of a fundraising event this year? Help the charity by being honest with yourself and with them.

Build your knowledge of social issues and collaborate
It’s always easy to give to causes that you are familiar with or are directly in front of you. But is your money going to where it is most needed? Instead, you can build your knowledge and learn more about current social problems or deep-rooted community issues that need support. Who knows, you may uncover fresh perspectives on how your money can better meet needs and still support a cause that resonates with your values. You can also gather a group of like-minded friends together to multiply the impact. When donors are willing to share knowledge and resources, redundancy is reduced, and funds can be directed more efficiently.

Adopt the mindset of a partner
Lastly, here are some things to keep in mind when working with charities. While some charities are able to provide a certain level of appreciation to donors, there are many that are under-resourced and face challenges in providing a satisfactory giving experience. If you are a customer to a for-profit business, you may give to a business with better service. But before you take your donation to another charity, do consider taking on the mindset of a partner rather than a customer.

If you assure the charity that you are interested in their real challenges rather than how well they keep things together on the outside, the charity can be honest about what they really need. As a result, you will gain a better insight into what it takes to make a meaningful change.

At CFS, we believe in giving that is marked by continuous learning and a true desire to make community better. Let’s make this giving season better than the last. Happy holidays!

Catherine Loh
CEO
Community Foundation of Singapore

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Sayang Sayang Fund: new initiatives

John Doe
John Doe
A younger Man teaching an woman how to use a smartphone.

The Community Foundation of Singapore today gave an update on the fund raising efforts for the Sayang Sayang Fund (SSF) and announced new initiatives that the Fund will support. One of these initiatives is an extension of the previously announced SeniorsOK@Home programme – CapitaLand #LoveOurSeniors – in collaboration with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC). CapitaLand Hope Foundation will be donating $700,000 towards this new programme. This will be on top of the $3 million goal CFS has set earlier.

Todate, SSF has received $1.1 million in donations and pledges of about $1 million. The Fund is still a distance away from the goal it set for end April. As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, there are new needs emerging from the community and the funds raised will allow the Sayang Sayang Fund to address emerging needs quickly.

Chief Executive Officer of the Community Foundation of Singapore, Ms Catherine Loh, said, “Singaporeans have been very generous and we are so touched and grateful that many donors – individuals and corporates — have come forward to donate when they hear about the Fund. I would like to encourage everyone else to come together and support the Sayang Sayang Fund, to meet the gaps in the community.

UPDATE ON INITIATIVES

1. SeniorsOK@Home
SeniorOK@Home will provide for immediate aid like food, necessities and medical supplies to seniors with limited mobility and confined at home. It also provides for digital solutions, such as video conferencing, and online recreational activities for seniors at home, to minimise social isolation. For centre-based charities who are providing essential services, CFS is funding disinfection and sanitisation of premises, as well as additional manpower to maintain the standard and quality of care for the seniors.

2. CapitaLand #LoveOurSeniors
With the rise of cases from nursing homes, the Sayang Sayang Fund has curated an extension to SeniorsOK@Home – the CapitaLand #LoveOurSeniors. CapitaLand Hope Foundation will be donating $700,000 towards this new programme, which will support community care providers with personal protection equipment and disinfection of the premises if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19. The contribution will also go towards a preparedness fund: to keep the vulnerable seniors engaged, as well as to appreciate the hard work and dedication of community care staff. AIC will be executing the programme.

3. SafeSleep@Home
Given the rapid increase in cases, there is also urgent concern for the rough sleepers in Singapore. The 2019 homeless survey published by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy indicated that there are about 1,000 homeless persons living in the streets. They are now all at-risk and need to find immediate shelter during the circuit breaker. SafeSleep@Home is an initiative to aid 500 rough sleepers find temporary lodgings, daily necessities and food supplies.

About Sayang Sayang Fund

The Fund provides care and support for vulnerable communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. By convening the community and acting together, the Fund can help community partners move their essential work forward in this critical moment and support the individuals and families hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19 and associated containment efforts.

The additional $3.7 million the Fund hopes to raise will support local charities and non-profits whose programmes and proposals meet three key objectives:

1. Provide emergency response funds that enable immediate and short-term relief for individuals and families from marginalised communities adversely affected by the COVID-19 situation.
2. Provide innovation solutions and research that address current and emerging needs to combat the COVID-19 situation.
3. Build capabilities for charitable organisations so that their clients can continue to access essential support and assistance during the COVID-19 situation.

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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

5 Critical gaps in caring for vulnerable seniors in Singapore

John Doe
John Doe
two young people helping an elderly

Singapore is fast reaching superaged status. Life expectancy is going up while the birth rate is heading south. By 2030 – not many years from where we are today – one in four Singaporeans will be 65 years or older. More worryingly, a fifth of that cohort will be over 80. (Population in Brief 2021) 

Ageing well and quality of life are huge concerns for our elderly. The biggest challenges centre on health: physical frailty or disability, sensory impairment such as hearing loss, or chronic conditions such as dementia or diabetes. However, ageing is not just a matter of biophysical health. It is also about bolstering psychological, emotional and community support. 

Moreover, mental wellness issues, such as depression and loneliness, are a real threat to the older demographic. The COVID-19 pandemic which began in early 2020 has sharply worsened the situation. On top of this, many older Singaporeans worry about financial security, due to escalating care costs, inadequate retirement income and limited earning opportunities. 

Many people prefer to age at home but that too has its challenges. In this article, we highlight the critical gaps in caring for vulnerable seniors and what can be done to support them so that ageing can be enabling, empowering and meaningful.

#1 Funding rising healthcare needs

Singapore’s healthcare expenses could jump tenfold between 2016 and 2030 to over $66 billion1. Family is typically the first line of support but families are getting smaller and relationships may be estranged. Income caps also mean not everyone qualifies for government aid. 

Even when fees are subsidized, low-income seniors may struggle with costs. Women, in particular, face more financial insecurity as they tend to have interrupted employment or be in low-wage or unpaid care work. Women also tend to outlive men and are more likely to be single, widowed or divorced in old age. 

The burden lands on welfare organisations to meet the shortfall. However, causes that help the elderly don’t attract as much funding as say, education, which in Singapore receives the lion’s share of donations: in 2019, they accounted for 52.9% of total receipts of $20.8 billion (Commissioner of Charities 2020).

#2 Access to home care and assisted living

Letting people age at home or in the community and delaying institutional care is a universal goal. But as the number of seniors with mobility issues or age-related ailments increases, demand for home nursing, home therapy, meal deliveries, assistive devices and home safety and modification services (to prevent falls) will rise. There will also be a much bigger role for centre-based eldercare, such as day care, and initiatives for assisted living.

#3 Depression and suicide

Aside from physical ill health, many seniors grapple with loneliness, loss of loved ones or dependence on others. The number of elderly living alone doubled to 63,800 in 2020 from a decade ago and is set to hit 83,000 by 2030 (Singapore Department of Statistics). The pandemic has worsened the social isolation of these singles as befriending and outreach services have stopped or moved online. Those who are not digitally savvy find it hard to access e-services.  

According to the Samaritans of Singapore, the number of people aged 60 and above who took their own lives reached a high at 154 deaths in 2020. That’s a 26% increase from the year before and is the highest elderly suicide death rate since 19912. There is an urgent need to support charities that connect with seniors, organise social outings or wellness activities for them, offer intergenerational bonding or assist beneficiaries with their healthcare needs such as medical appointments and screenings. 

#4 Dementia support

Dementia is our nation’s most prevalent neurodegenerative disease today, affecting one in 10 seniors. By 2030, the number of dementia patients is set to reach 92,000 – a doubling from 2015 (Dementia in the Asia Pacific Region). Dementia additionally imposes a huge burden on caregivers, many of whom are ageing themselves. We need more funding to support early diagnosis and intervention, community dementia care services such as exercise and cognitive activities as well as training and support for caregivers.

#5 End of life care

Discussions about death or end of life remain taboo. There is insufficient advance care planning as well as a lack of healthcare workers and expertise in the palliative care system. Better awareness and improved options for inpatient, home or day care hospice services are needed.

How CFS helps you do more with your giving

If you would like to help seniors who have fallen through the cracks or would like to make ageing more empowering and inclusive, we at CFS can align your giving goals with the needs of this community. We are a cause-neutral organisation that supports grantmaking to a wide range of charitable areas in Singapore. Of the 400-plus charities we evaluate and make grants to, close to 30% work with seniors. We partner with charities that focus on clearly identified problem areas or social gaps that are under-supported. Charities must also demonstrate measurable outcomes and good stewardship of funds.

A simple and cost-effective way to contribute to a variety of causes in Singapore is by setting up a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF). A DAF can be set up by an individual, a beneficiary of a will, a trust, or a family office. CFS will handle all fund administration and leverage our unparalleled insight into Singapore’s charitable landscape to provide philanthropy advice that ensures your giving is targeted, accountable and impactful. CFS strives to ensure that every grant that goes out creates positive change.

As a donor, you will save on legal expenses and enjoy upfront tax deductions at the prevailing rate on eligible donations. Donors will also receive regular statements tracking incoming donations to the DAF and outgoing disbursements to charities. CFS has an established track record when it comes to setting up DAFs and our DAF payout rates outperformed the entire US DAF industry by 12% and their community foundations by 2 times. 

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

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.

1 https://www.asiaone.com/health/elderly-health-costs-rise-tenfold-2030-report

2 https://www.sos.org.sg/pressroom/singapore-reported-452-suicide-deaths-in-2020-number-of-elderly-suicide-deaths-highest-recorded-since-1991

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Opinion

Four ways to give back through the arts

John Doe
John Doe
a group of people in a room with a stage and a group of people in chairs

To put things into perspective: giving to the arts means more than just supporting a company’s artistic endeavours – support for the arts helps build a more inclusive society and brings benefits to the community in many ways.

Many of Singapore’s artists, art companies and institutions are passionate about social causes, and make it part of their mission to give back through the work they do. These efforts often go beyond cultivating art appreciation, to include efforts to reach out to the less privileged, nurture the young and bring the joy of the arts to a wider audience.

To help navigate the dynamic field of the arts, we have identified key areas in which the arts is making strides within the local community:

Arts education
An arts education is considered vital in helping children develop creativity and imagination – key skills to thrive in the future economy. These efforts can be bolstered by supporting spaces for early arts exposure, such as the Keppel Centre for Art Education at the National Gallery Singapore, or access to dedicated arts training and programmes as exemplified by The Rice CompanyArt Outreach Singapore and Playeum.

Alongside their artistic season, many local arts companies have also developed outreach programmes for children and youths, including Singapore Repertory TheatreThe Necessary StageOdyssey Dance TheatreThe Fingers PlayersThe Theatre PracticeTheatreWorks and Temenggong Artists-In-Residence.

Active aging
Empowering our seniors to lead meaningful, active lives is a priority for Singapore, and the arts can play a significant role. Events such as the National Arts Council’s Silver Arts Festival have demonstrated how the arts offer seniors a safe space to try new activities, and also a platform to engage their minds through enjoying a performance or work of art, as exemplified by Beautiful Mind Charity which runs free concerts at various elderly homes. The Singapore Chinese Orchestra plays to patients and healthcare workers in hospitals and care centres through its ‘Caring Series’ to provide the healing touch through music.

Others like contemporary dance outfit The Arts Fission Company have channelled art towards practical benefits. The company runs Everyday Waltzes for Active Aging, a programme which utilises movement to help the elderly maintain strong core muscles and reduce their risk of falling.

Mental health
In some instances, the arts contributes to the mental health of different segments of our society by helping to recognise and bring deep issues to light. Take for instance theatre company Drama Box, which develops theatrical work mirroring our social fabric. The company has worked with many marginalised and underserved groups, including migrant workers, out-of-school youths and the elderly, and continues to use theatre to explore important social issues from mental health, dying, resilience and identity.

Special needs
The arts celebrates the value of every human being, making it a natural fit when it comes to engaging individuals with special needs and disabilities. Superhero Me, a ground-up inclusive arts movement turned charity, has been championing the power of art to bring joy and empowerment to children from needy families and those with special needs.

Arts companies can also use their expertise to give back. Contemporary dance company RAW Moves runs A Little RAW, an inclusive children’s dance company bringing dance to children with special needs, while Beautiful Mind Charity has been offering free professional music education to children with disabilities since 2014.

Photo: National Arts Council

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Dipa Swaminathan on what we can each do for Singapore’s migrant workers

John Doe
John Doe
A woman with short hair and a white top smiling warmly, radiating positivity and joy.

Dipa Swaminathan is a force of nature. At 49, the Harvard-educated lawyer is an assistant general counsel for SingTel and the founder of ItsRainingRaincoats, an organisation created in 2015 to support migrant workers in Singapore and champion their cause. As the recipient of the President’s Award for philanthropy and volunteerism in 2017, Swaminathan knows a thing or two about advocating for a marginalised group—in particular, one that has built our nation from the ground up while bearing the harshest brunt of the fallout from COVID-19.

“Migrant workers are not franchised and lack voices in the broader community,” shares Swaminathan. “The avenues available to us are not to them. They are often scared of speaking up for fear of getting their permits cancelled—which can happen within 24 hours.” The vulnerability of their situations are why migrant workers in Singapore are often forced to tolerate poor living conditions—leading to consequences like the one we have seen this year.

“Migrant workers lack many of the comforts that we are so accustomed to. They are expected to live in close proximity to each other and have limited spaces that they can move around in. In these conditions, the impacts of COVID-19 were felt harder by these workers. ItsRainingRaincoats had to ramp up its efforts overnight as the
pandemic started to spread in the migrant worker community and we did so with tremendous speed thanks to our volunteer ranks doubling and the outpouring of
support from the community,” she adds.

Alongside her tireless efforts for this oft-overlooked group, Swaminathan is now embarking on a new project with The Community Foundation of Singapore. Known as “A Greater Gift’’, the campaign focuses on the true value and lasting impact of a legacy gift. A legacy gift is a method of planned donation—essentially, leading to long-term, sustainable support for a cause you believe in.

As an ambassador for this initiative, Swaminathan opens up to Vogue Singapore about the importance of this movement, her advocacy work for migrant workers in
Singapore and her poignant hopes for their future.

What led you to start working with migrant workers in Singapore? Is this something you have always been passionate about?

Working with migrant workers started almost by chance. I was driving home in a thunderstorm one day and saw two migrant workers crouching under a cardboard sheet to remain dry. I took them home and gave them food and drinks and dry clothes to change into. Several weeks later, I received a call from the police saying one of
the men had been charged with a suicide attempt and the only number he had was mine. He had tried to take his life because he hadn’t been paid for three months and had loansharks hounding his family back in India. I knew it was an act of desperation, and emailed the Police Commissioner incessantly until charges were dropped.
The experience made me realise that you can’t change the world but you can change the world for one person.

We must shift our perception that migrant workers are dirty or societal outcasts. We need to correct perceptions in our own circles and speak up on the issue when the opportunity arises at the dinner table or different social settings.

Another experience that changed the game for me was when I saw a group of migrant workers working in the rain, wearing garbage bags to try and remain dry. I called their employer and insisted that it was their duty to provide for their workers, susceptible to the constant rainy conditions in Singapore. I threatened to flag it with newspapers, share it on social media and report it to the Ministry of Manpower. While the employer hung up on me, the next day, I saw that all the workers had been
provided with raincoats.

Which parts of your work with migrant workers do you find most important?

It is incredibly rewarding to be able to bridge conversations between migrant workers, volunteers and other Singaporean residents, as well as galvanising support from the corporate sector and schools. Connecting different parts of the community helps us to build a bigger support platform for migrant workers, helping them integrate
into the broader community.

For example, during the height of the pandemic, ItsRainingRaincoats mobilised hundreds of volunteers to distribute 600,000 hot meals, 120,000 care packages, and helped 12,000 workers with mobile data top-ups so they could remain connected with their family. We also co-authored a mental health booklet in partnership with the
Singapore Medical Society of Ireland and coordinated fundraising efforts for families of deceased or terminally ill migrant workers.

Tell us a little bit about the “A Greater Gift” initiative

“A Greater Gift” is a three-year initiative led by the Community Foundation of Singapore to highlight that legacy giving is critical to providing long-term support and
sustainability to the causes we care about the most. The campaign is to encourage everyone living in Singapore to leave a legacy. Whether its time, money or
resources,
those who are able to do so will have an enduring and positive impact on those in need within the community. I’m proud to have been selected as a brand ambassador for the campaign, to highlight that anyone can give back.

Aside from the impact of COVID-19, what is one other problem facing migrant workers in Singapore right now?

One main problem for migrant workers is that they are often not paid on time. At the end of the day, they are here to earn a salary without exploitation. If we can
achieve this, it’s the first step towards fair treatment.

How do you think we can rectify the stigma and seclusion that migrant workers face?

There is a plethora of issues that put migrant workers on the back foot when they come to Singapore—there is a large number of them, they have issues with language, they are usually here alone without their families and are far from home.

Change needs to happen within each of us—within our hearts and instincts. We must shift our perception that migrant workers are dirty or societal outcasts. We need
to correct perceptions in our own circles and speak up on the issue when the opportunity arises at the dinner table or different social settings.

The most soul-crushing thing for me is when I hear of a migrant worker death.

Seeing the harsh conditions and difficult circumstances that migrant workers are in must take an emotional toll. Do you ever experience compassion fatigue? How do you take care of yourself and what keeps you going?

I do experience compassion fatigue and I need to give myself time to wind down. There were many days this year at the height of the pandemic where I didn’t have
time to attend to my personal day-to-day needs like even taking a shower. My phone never stopped ringing as I attended to countless migrant workers seeking help.

There is a saying that if you don’t fill your well, you can’t draw from the well. And for me, I keep my well filled by exercising, going on staycations and spending lots of
quality time with my husband and two teenage sons with tons of tennis action. We are also avid Formula 1 fans.

Going into 2021, what is your biggest hope for how the lives of migrant workers in Singapore will change?

I hope fewer of them succumb to workplace fatalities—the most soul-crushing thing for me is when I hear of a migrant worker death. I hope workplace conditions and mental health improves for them. I hope that we don’t hear our phones ringing as much—because then we know that we’ve made improvements for them and for us as a society.

Find out more about “A Greater Gift” at legacygiving.sg. Support ItsRainingRaincoats with a donation or a Christmas gift for migrant workers.

Source: Vogue

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.

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