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Pragmatic reasons to engage In philanthropy
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Opinion

Pragmatic reasons to engage In philanthropy

John Doe
John Doe
Elderly man lying on grass with sign.

Educator George Jacobs became involved in philanthropy because he wanted to put his money where his mouth is. As someone who feels strongly about contributing to greater food security in Singapore, the passionate advocate for a vegan lifestyle established the Relaxed Fund to promote horticulture in the little red dot.

“My wife and I wanted to encourage people to eat more plant-based foods, as these foods boost human health and address global warming issues. One way to convince people to change their diets is to immerse them in growing greens themselves, so they feel a sense of ownership. Thus, they want the greens to find a good home — in their stomachs,” he says.

In partnership with the Community Foundation of Singapore, which enables philanthropy by matching donors’ interests with causes, the Relaxed Fund has thus far spearheaded the launch of three edible community gardens. Jacobs regards these gardens as a tangible step towards increasing the country’s self-reliance on food, saying, “The government has a 30 by 30 goal, for Singapore to produce 30 per cent of our food needs by 2030. Everyone needs to help if we are to reach this goal and home and community gardening is one method of achieving the target.”

Practically speaking, there is a need for the wealthy, particularly in Asia, to step forward the way Jacobs has. “Asia has amassed one-third of the world’s wealth, but still has two-thirds of the world’s poor,” says Dr Ruth Shapiro, chief executive officer of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS).

Practically speaking, there is a need for the wealthy, particularly in Asia, to step forward the way Jacobs has. “Asia has amassed one-third of the world’s wealth, but still has two-thirds of the world’s poor,” says Dr Ruth Shapiro, chief executive officer of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS).

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, international support is on a gradual decline, which means an “Asia for Asia” centric philanthropy has to fill the gap, the Doing Good Index, the latest study by CAPS indicates. “There is now a unique opportunity to use this newly created wealth to alleviate poverty, protect the environment and promote societal resilience,” Dr Shapiro adds.

The advantage of philanthropy in its various forms is that it enables donors to steer the impact they hope to achieve in their field of interest. “Many donors who come to us already have a passion for a particular cause,” explains Catherine Loh, chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS). To date, its donors have given about $70 million to over 400 non-profit organisations in the areas of education, health, social and welfare, arts, culture, environment and more. “While charity is a natural, emotional impulse to an immediate situation and giving usually occurs in the short-term, philanthropy addresses the root cause of social issues and requires a more strategic, long-term approach.”

She cites former president SR Nathan, who established an education endowment fund with CFS after he stepped down as president, spurred by his personal experiences of overcoming hardships. The endowment fund has since helped many beneficiaries graduate with diplomas and degrees, hence securing a better future for these individuals and their families, an outcome that was close to his heart.

There are also business imperatives that spur some to engage in philanthropy. For starters, Singapore has the highest tax subsidy for charitable giving in the world at a rate of 250 percent for individuals and companies, which offers a strong incentive to give.

It also bodes well that many companies do care about the communities in which they operate, observes Dr Ruth Shapiro of CAPS — and philanthropy gives them an avenue to engage with these local communities in various ways. Funding social delivery organisations is one straightforward way of doing so. According to the Doing Good Index, the average social organisation in Singapore only receives 16 percent of their budget from companies, indicating there is potential for further monetary contributions.

“Businesses can encourage their employees to volunteer and sit on boards of non-profit organisations and social enterprises,” Dr Shapiro adds. She notes that in Singapore, only 55 percent of non-profit board members have corporate experience, hence encouraging volunteering in this form would allow important skills and business rigor to transfer to the social sector. Taking on such roles may also provide individuals with an additional opportunity to develop leadership skills that can benefit the business in turn.

Philanthropy via the establishment of a foundation dedicated to a specific cause can also be instrumental in uniting successors of a business or a family with shared purposes. “This is one way to pass on one’s interests and values and an opportunity to make an impact now in their lifetime and beyond,” says Loh.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, the oft uttered trope that by doing good, one feels good too might be the most powerful motivating factor. This concept, which is advocated by French neuroscientist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, has been proven in many studies that show people who give are significantly happier than those who spend only on themselves.

Jacobs of the Relaxed Fund could not agree more. He says, “My wife and I have already lived for over sixty comfortable years. Taking a little time from our schedules instead of watching Netflix and spending a little of the funds we have accumulated, instead of using them for some products we do not need, is a sweet feeling.”

Source: a.com

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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

International Women’s Forum: From seeding bursaries to expanding horizons for young women

John Doe
John Doe
Women standing together for photo in front of big screen.

Grit. Confidence. Passion. When it comes to long-term success, these qualities matter.

For Chen Si, an awardee of the International Women’s Forum Singapore (IWF) Education Grant, her pursuit to become a psychologist was driven by a personal conviction. “Two of my close friends almost lost their lives to depression. I’m convinced mental health is a serious issue and I hope to be there for those who struggle in the dark,” says Chen.

Started in 2014 and managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), the IWF Education Fund has been supporting young women from financially-challenged backgrounds during their tertiary education. To date, the IWF Education Grant has disbursed over $150,000 to 60 young women from 12 local tertiary institutions.

But beyond affirming academic excellence, the grant has also aimed to nurture women of ‘steel’ – individuals with the character and commitment to achieve in their chosen field. Applicants for the education grant are personally screened by IWF, whose panel includes some of Singapore’s top women business leaders, to recognise young women with the potential to excel and give back to society.

For Chen Si, receiving the IWF Education grant has been a great encouragement. “It affirms the work I do and spurs me to achieve excellence in what I believe in”, she says.

With CFS’s facilitation, the IWF Education Grant has in recent years expanded to more tertiary institutions, including the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and LASALLE College of the Arts, thus supporting women who wish to pursue alternative career paths.

The IWF Education Grant has also grown to include a mentorship programme, in collaboration with the Young Women’s Leadership Connection (YWLC). All recipients of the IWF Education Grant are eligible to apply for the IWF-YWLC Mentorship programme, which opens doors for these young women to benefit from connections to successful women mentors, whether it’s building confidence, valuable industry contacts, or a role model they can learn from.

Celeste Marie Jacob, previously an opera student at NAFA, and who now teaches voice at a local music school, received the IWF Education Grant and took part in the IWF-YWLC Mentorship Programme. She was delighted to find that her mentor, despite coming from a business background, helped her to address her career concerns as an arts practitioner.

“It was important for me to think outside my job scope and have interactions with people from different backgrounds,” says Celeste. “As an opera student, my mentor opened my eyes to see new possibilities and opportunities to use my skills.” As a result of the mentorship, Celeste began emceeing for concerts and productions, which has benefited her through the additional income.

For Chen Si, the mentorship programme has offered support in a time of transition to work life, “My mentor reminded me to stay rooted in my values and beliefs and strive for excellence with confidence. With this confidence, I am now better able to face the uncertainties of the future and take things in my stride.”

Goh Swee Chen, President of the IWF Grant Committee Singapore said, “Over the last five years, it has been a joy to see the IWF Education Grant blossom and become a catalyst for personal and professional growth for these talented young women. Empowering women is not merely about supporting them financially, but exposing them to opportunities, networks and career options as they make this critical transition from student to working life. CFS’s facilitation has played a pivotal role, helping to establish a strong foundation that has enabled us to develop collaborations and increase our impact over time.”

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

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

HOME: Helping vulnerable migrant workers through crisis

John Doe
John Doe
A woman gracefully holds a box of vibrant flowers, standing before a neatly arranged bunk bed.

With almost one million low-wage migrant workers in Singapore, there is an increasing appreciation of the important role they play in our society. Yet, while migrant workers make up a significant part of our social fabric, their issues and challenges may often remain invisible from public view.

Since 2004, the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) has been aiding migrant workers in crisis situations. These workers have often suffered exploitation and abuse ranging from overwork, injury, wage theft to physical and emotional abuse. HOME supports around 2000 non-domestic workers and domestic workers each year.

“Many of the workers who come to us are already quite traumatised,” says Sheena Kanwar, Executive Director of HOME, “It is quite a journey for them: from making the decision to come here, receiving support, recovering from crisis and moving on with life.”

Support from donors to the Migrants Emergency Assistance and Support (MEANS) Fund, a community impact fund managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), has helped HOME to provide immediate and short-term financial assistance to distressed workers. The financial support covers the basic necessities, medical care, transport and mobile phone top-ups. To date, the MEANS fund has disbursed around $60,000 to HOME.

Financial assistance is critical for these workers; many of them have no savings or have not been paid a salary for several months. If a worker decides to make a legal complaint against their employer, they may end up staying in Singapore for several years. “We help ensure there is a basic sum for their everyday well-being through this process, from food, transport to their medical needs,” says Sheena.

Beyond financial assistance, HOME has created “a sustainable system that allows us to respond to the different needs of a migrant worker in crisis,” explains Sheena. These services include help desks, legal, medical, and counselling teams, a shelter for vulnerable domestic workers, skill-building classes, to helping workers through re-employment. Moving forward, HOME looks to expand its reach, especially to vulnerable migrant workers from the Myanmar and Indian communities.

For these workers, HOME has opened a vital window of support – and even a new lease of life. Take Jofel, a domestic helper who has been living at HOME’s migrant worker shelter for over a year. After attending an art therapy class by the HOME Academy, Jofel stumbled upon her creative talent. She started to pursue her passion for handicraft, actively picking up skills online each day. Today, she is skilled at designing and producing a wide range of items, from bags, candles to flower bouquets. “I’m very grateful to HOME for its support. I discovered myself and my creative abilities here,” says Jopel. Upon her future return to her home country, Jopel hopes to start her own business.

Sheena is heartened by the surge of support amongst Singaporeans towards the plight of migrant workers; from enthusiastic young students who ask to join HOME’s projects, to HOME’s dedicated teams of legal, medical and counseling professionals. She says, “The support and empathy for migrant workers have gone up tremendously over the last five to seven years. It’s very heartening that people genuinely see the need for the work that we do.”

To support the MEANS Community Impact Fund, visit here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

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

Four teachers recognised for excellence in early childhood, special needs education

John Doe
John Doe
four teachers receiving an award

Ms Sulochanah Kanapathy’s pupil was already four years old but he could not say a word.

But Ms Sulochanah, 47, was determined to help, and taught the child with special needs to speak his first words.

The teacher from Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten went the extra mile by conducting home visits, giving the child additional teaching materials, and training his parents to better manage his learning.

That incident from seven years ago drove her to take a course in special needs education to understand children with such challenges better.

On Wednesday (Nov 24), she received the Leading Foundation Teacher Award, in the Early Childhood Educator category, at the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Nanyang Technological University.

Besides Ms Sulochanah, Ms A. Neshanthini Neelamohan, 33, from Sparkletots Preschool @ Braddell Heights Block 246, also received the Leading Foundation Award in the same category.

Ms Wong Jia Min, 34, from Fei Yue Community Services and Mrs Lee E-Lyn, 47, from Methodist Girls’ School (Primary) received the Leading Foundation Award in the Special Needs Educator Category.

The Leading Foundation Teacher Award, established in 2013, recognises excellence in early childhood, special needs and allied educators who have made significant contributions to the well-being and teaching of their students. It is administered by NIE and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

The four were selected through appraisals and interviews by the judging panel, which comprised members from NIE, the Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Early Childhood Development.

This year, there were a total of 57 nominations.

Among the winners was Ms Neshanthini,who is a firm believer in ensuring that her lessons appeal to all types of learners.

There is always something for her pupils, be it visual, auditory or tactile. For instance, she often uses food essence to stimulate her pupils’ senses as part of sensory play, she said.

As for Ms Wong Jia Min, she believes parental support is key to a child’s development.

For example, Ms Wong brought in a professional sign language interpreter so that a student with behavioural issues could communicate more effectively with her deaf parents.

Many house visits later, Ms Wong and a social worker noticed a major positive change in the student’s behaviour.

Mrs Lee, on the other hand, uses humour in her classes to allow her students to express themselves and to feel relaxed in a safe environment.

For instance, she records the children’s voices and plays the recordings back during oral practice. She focuses heavily on celebrating small successes and encouraging them.

“I’m not just their teacher, but their cheerleader too,” she said.

The awards are sponsored by The Leading Foundation, which was co-founded by Mr Lim Siong Guan, a professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and a former head of the Singapore Civil Service, with Ms Joanne H. Lim, founder of a communications consultancy.

Mrs Jennifer Lim, Prof Lim’s wife and the guest of honour, presented the awards to the winners, who also received a cash award of $2,500 and a certificate each.

Winners list
Early Childhood Educator category
Ms A. Neshanthini Neelamohan, 33, PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Braddell Heights Blk 246
Ms Sulochanah Kanapathy, 47, Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten

Special Needs Educator category
Mrs Lee E-Lyn, 47, Methodist Girls’ School (Primary)
Ms Wong Jia Min, 34, Fei Yue Community Services

If you would like to begin your giving journey with us at CFS, please read more here

This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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Stories Of Impact

#MyGivingJourney X Jeya Ayadurai: Bringing her people and strategic skills to nonprofits

John Doe
John Doe
portrait of jeya

CFS is proud to launch our #MyGivingJourney series, which portrays extraordinary women and their efforts in philanthropy as part of celebrating the women of Singapore in the year 2021. Our first story features Jeya Ayadurai, AWWA Board Director & member of CFS’s Finance & HR Committee.  

Giving back is more than just about money, says Jeya Ayadurai. “You can use your skills, you can do some mentoring or you can just spend time reading to kids in a school,” she says. Having blazed a trail in the civil service and corporate world helping organisations and people thrive, Jeya is doing just that – sharing her knowledge, experience and ideas with nonprofits. 

Social service organisations are very good at caring for people, she notes. “But heart and hands have also to be guided by the head. You have to look at developing your talent. You need to strengthen your organisation structures and practices to reach out to even more clients. You need to measure performance and ensure that your leaders are aligned with the company’s strategy,” says Jeya, who has a wealth of experience in senior roles in regional human resources (HR) and strategic change management. As she sees it, welfare organisations have more balls in the air to juggle compared to profit-driven entities.  

The pandemic has thrown even more balls into the mix. COVID-19 has upended how charities raise funds and interact with beneficiaries and volunteers. “With physical contact limited and connections moving online, how do you create stickiness with your donors, staff and volunteers? We need new ways of managing and engaging with them,” she notes. 

Jeya sits on the board of AWWA Ltd, a registered charity that works to empower persons with disabilities, disadvantaged families and vulnerable seniors. She is also chairperson of AWWA’s HR committee. More recently, Jeya joined the Finance & Human Resources committee of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS).  

Where she once worked with private sector CEOs to drive their people strategies and organisational development, she now works with the leadership of AWWA and CFS to develop performance metrics, appraisal structures, compensation packages and people management processes.  

Jeya has volunteered with AWWA for 18 years and she is proud of how AWWA has helped strengthen the social services sector in Singapore. For Jeya, philanthropic work has made her a whole person. A career in the corporate world tends to be driven by bottom-line and measurable outcomes. In community work, when the head, heart and hands come together, clients are empowered to rise above their own limitations and achieve more holistic outcomes. Being humane brings happiness all around, she firmly believes. 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more about #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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