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How Family Offices Could Shape Philanthropy
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How Family Offices Could Shape Philanthropy

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Singapore has a long history of family philanthropy. The first family foundations were established after World War II and they donated generously to alleviate poverty, care for the vulnerable and build schools and hospitals. Today, there are over 400 foundations and trusts registered with the Commissioner of Charities but families that institutionalized big-ticket giving early on – such as the Lee Foundation and the Lien Foundation – continue to dominate philanthropic giving in Singapore.

Family offices are entities which typically manage assets for or on behalf of a family. And Singapore – well-regulated, transparent and politically stable – is rapidly becoming the region’s preferred choice for family offices. In 2020 alone, approximately 200 single family offices were set up here, doubling the total count. As wealth grows, charitable giving is likely to keep climbing.

These high-net-worth families have the potential to shake up philanthropy in Singapore. Traditionally, the Asian family office was an extension of the family business, with a laser-sharp focus on the bottomline. “However, as founders age and younger successors take over, we expect to see greater value placed on sustainable and responsible investing as well as on strategic philanthropy,” says our CEO Catherine Loh.

Research firm Wealth-X estimates that $1.9 trillion worth of wealth in Asia will be passed on to the next generation in the coming decade. For many heirs, giving back is emerging as an integral part of doing business. For them, philanthropic activities are an optimal way to build and sustain a family’s legacy, strengthen family cohesion and better engage family members. 

But here’s where it gets interesting. “Family offices have the power to shake up traditional philanthropy as they tend to be more agile and responsive compared to large foundations or corporate foundations, which are answerable to multiple stakeholders and layers of decision makers. Secondly, family businesses tend to be built by entrepreneurs and disruptors, making them more open to new ways of doing things,” says Catherine. 

What this means is that the new wave of family-driven philanthropy could fund untested, possibly radical new approaches to problems. It could find innovative ways of harnessing capital for social impact. It could move away from cheque book charity to a more engaged approach which could lean towards social enterprises or private-public initiatives. 

However, while most family offices across the globe are engaged in some form of giving back, only 41% of them have a philanthropic strategy in place, notes the Milken Institute. Few family offices have the in-house expertise to evaluate nonprofits, deploy philanthropic dollars optimally, or monitor and measure impact. 

“At CFS, we believe giving should be thoughtfully planned and driven by evidence-based insights,” says Catherine. As a cause-neutral philanthropy advisor, CFS offers unparalleled access to over 400 charities in Singapore, across a diverse range of sectors. We conduct due diligence to ensure the giving is accountable and creating a social impact.  

For family offices, a cost-effective and flexible way to embark on philanthropy is to set up a donor-advised fund (DAF). Since 2008, CFS has set up close to 200 DAFs: of these, almost half have been for families. We pool donor funds for investment management and with over $90 million in assets at any one time, smaller individual funds can reap the economies of scale that large foundations enjoy. Beyond this, as the country’s largest convener of philanthropic activities, we mobilise donor capital through collaborations and collective models to scale up impact and generate more empowering solutions. 

If you would like to find out more about how CFS can help you achieve your giving goals, please click here.

 

References:

  1. June Lee (January 2019) Exploring Family Philanthropy in Singapore – Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy, National University of Singapore https://wings.issuelab.org/resources/34346/34346.pdf 
  2. EDB Singapore (February 2022) How Singapore is Becoming Asia’s Family Office Hub https://www.edb.gov.sg/en/business-insights/insights/how-singapore-is-becoming-asia-s-family-office-hub.html 
  3. Richard Newell (March 2022) New study sees Singapore as top family office hub – Asian Investor https://www.asianinvestor.net/article/new-study-sees-singapore-as-top-family-office-hub/476226 
  4. Milken Institute (June 2021) Philanthropy in a Family Office https://milkeninstitute.org/article/philanthropy-family-office
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News

LIFT (Learning Initiatives for Employment) Community Impact Fund – Turning lives around, one step at a time

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Nothing in life prepares a youth for a negative doctor’s report.

Four years ago, in his second year of polytechnic, Jerry Tan experienced a stroke caused by a brain aneurysm that paralysed the left side of his body. He had to undergo three brain surgeries as well as physical therapy, staying in the hospital for five to six months.

Jerry recounted his experience, “The doctor commented that he was lucky to be alive and even survive without becoming vegetative, as two aneurysms had burst in my brain. However, this incident left me with a limited function of my left arm and affected vision in both of my eyes.”

With his current disabilities, it would have been tough for him to obtain a job, especially since his studies were also put on hold. His turning point came when he received assistance from the Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund (CIF). The LIFT Fund, managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), provides social enterprise funding to enable disadvantaged groups to obtain training which will make them more employable.

The LIFT Fund had partnered with social enterprises Bettr Barista and Project Dignity, allowing for socially disadvantaged people to obtain subsidies in their training fees and to pick up both hard and soft skills which would better aid them in securing employment. From April 2020 to March 2021, the LIFT Fund saw 115 people to receiving training at either Bettr Barista Coffee Academy or Dignity Kitchen, of which 91 participants completed the full training course. Of those who had successfully completed the course, 73 people were successfully hired, with 55 managing to remain employed for more than three months. Jerry himself was a beneficiary of the LIFT Fund who eventually went on to work in a Japanese restaurant for about a year, before returning to Dignity Kitchen as a cashier due to the impact of Covid-19.

Joyce Teo, Deputy CEO of CFS shared “CFS mainly focused on these two social enterprises as they felt that both enterprises understood the needs of employers in the catering industry and had also achieved certain results in training and job matching for the disadvantaged. CFS hopes to provide them with long-term funding so they can expand their assistance to those in need, as well as conduct more systematic training to strengthen the skills of the trainees.”

She also hopes that more of the public would actively donate to the LIFT Fund and help those in need, especially when they open up the fundraising to their networks. If you would like to support someone in their journey towards sustained employment opportunities, please visit our donation drive on Giving.sg.

This translated article was originally published by Lianhe Zaobao 

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

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Events

CFS Philanthropy Forum 2019: Looking to the future of community philanthropy

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At the CFS Philanthropy Forum 2019 held on 18 March, over 100 guests – including donors, charities and partners – gathered to hear from leaders and experts on what lies ahead for community philanthropy.

Headlining the evening was keynote speaker Eileen Heisman, President and CEO of National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), the largest independent donor advised fund (DAF) administrator in the United States. In her dynamic speech, Eileen – a founding member of CFS’s international advisory committee – shared NPT’s amazing journey to raising more than US$13 billion in charitable contributions, and encouraged all in attendance to rise to the challenge of taking local philanthropy to new heights.

Following her speech, Eileen was joined by Dr June Lee, Honorary Research Fellow, Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy (ACSEP) at the National University of Singapore, and moderator Laurence Lien, Chairman of CFS, in an engaging panel discussion on how DAFs enable smarter, better giving by helping donors give more thought to the purpose of their charitable dollars.

Referring to how DAFs are gaining rising interest in Asia, Eileen commented, “A lot of people have chosen donor advised funds because they want something that’s easy, turnkey, relatively inexpensive and can be adapted to changing interests. Donors have many different types of philanthropic goals, so with a DAF, they can shape the fund according to their preferences and they can change their giving focuses over time.”

June noted DAFs offered specific advantages for families looking to give. “In a recent research paper published by ACSEP, we found that one of the biggest question families ask is ‘how do we engage family members in our giving?’” Setting up a DAF allows a founder to set aside funds for philanthropy without burdening his or her children financially, she adds, while also allowing flexibility down the line when a founder’s children wish to pursue to a different charitable cause from their parents.

Remarking on the opportunities ahead for community philanthropy, Eileen cited the growth of two major trends: micro donor advised funds targeting millennials, and new services enabling direct payroll deductions into donor advised funds. “These trends will change the face of donor advised funds as we go forward,” she said.

She challenged CFS to tap on these wider trends to expand its offerings, “As someone who’s very much invested in CFS’s success, I would like to see CFS be creative and thoughtful about expanding the horizon for donors and the community of Singapore to express their philanthropy in different and new ways.”

In his closing remarks, Laurence commented, “It’s clear DAFs are a trend that can’t be turned back. DAFs are there for us to use, to promote, and the only direction is up.”

The evening ended on a poignant note as CFS announced the handover of its chairmanship from Laurence to Christine Ong who takes over as Chairman on 1 April.

Indeed, CFS has come full circle and we are so grateful for the guidance, trust and support we have received over the last decade.

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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

Structure Your Giving To Create A Greater Impact

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Angie Han smiling at the camera

This article first appeared on CFS’s Legacy Giving Website. To find out more about Legacy Giving, please click here.

As part of the wealth structuring process, I often engage my clients in conversations around the meaning and purpose of one’s wealth. In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an uptick in interest in giving, and in particular, legacy giving, a structured approach towards creating a positive change.

Angie Han believes this unprecedented year is sowing the seeds for greater giving in Singapore. “Many of us are witnessing the impact on vulnerable communities,” remarks Angie, ” As a result, in addition to wanting to give back to the community, many also wish to move beyond one-off, ad-hoc responses to a more sustainable and impactful giving.” 

It was this desire to help clients take a more pro-active approach to planning for their future that prompted Angie to make the shift from litigation to wealth planning. “I began my career handling dispute resolution,” shares Angie, a former commercial litigation lawyer at Drew and Napier, “Having seen the fallouts that take place without proper advanced planning, I thought I could use my experience to help families at the outset to put in place the necessary mechanism to protect and transfer their wealth through their key life events and avoid potential pitfalls that come with inadequate planning.”

Today, as a Senior Wealth Planner at Pictet Wealth Management based in Singapore, Angie advises clients on legal, tax and structuring solutions for estate planning and business succession planning. She enjoys engaging her clients in conversations around their core values and mission, how they can engage the next generation, as well as how they can build and pass on a legacy that reflects the values close to their hearts. 

When it comes to legacy giving, Angie champions a structured and forward-thinking approach. “When you take a structured approach, you are more likely to be able to create a sustainable impact,” says Angie. “This includes carefully identifying which causes you would like to support and putting in place processes that match your intended purpose.”

She believes more advisors are needed in this area of practice to strengthen Singapore’s philanthropy ecosystem. She says, “Beyond helping our clients to achieve their personal aspirations, I find fulfilment knowing that I am helping these individuals and families to use their wealth for social and environmental good, and to make this world a better place for those who will live in it after our time.”

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News

A Call for Collaborative Giving: Scaling Greater Heights with Seniors

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A call for collaborative giving: Join hands to make a difference. Together, let's create positive change through collective generosity. #CollaborativeGiving

The third Colabs publication explores how we as individuals and as a society can help our senior citizens live more happily in our community, against the backdrop of an aging population. The collective insights of 98 participants identified various issues such as the generational gap and lack of purpose. In collaborative discussions on the way forward, one key point was to involve seniors from the very beginning, to improve their ownership and adoption of the solutions. Read more here.

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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