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Speech by Chairman Laurence Lien at CFS’s 10th anniversary celebrations
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Speech by Chairman Laurence Lien at CFS’s 10th anniversary celebrations

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John Doe
Chairman Laurence Lien Speaking in front of the stage

Thank you all for joining us in this celebration.

CFS was first incorporated on 8 September 2008; hence our 10th birthday celebrations now. Lehman Brother collapsed on 15 September 2008, so we are also commemorating 10 years of the Global Financial Crisis.

I spoke of how we were born in bad times at our Chinese New Year luncheon in March. I will not repeat what I said, except to emphasise again how difficult it was to start up. It was difficult to hire, because we were a start-up doing something novel here. Donors didn’t want to talk to us. And there were even people in the sector who did not want us to exist, as they saw us as competition for funds.

Surviving those early days was a minor miracle. I was there at the start so I have my war stories. Frankly, before I became the CEO of NVPC in 2008, the first job that then Chairman of NVPC, Stanley Tan, offered me was not the NVPC one, but to be the first CEO of CFS.  I rejected it, and took the NVPC one instead. But little did I know that after the first six months, I was to do both jobs, and became the acting CEO for nearly four years.

So there we were at the start helping donors give strategically, bridging them with charities, providing donor advice, grantmaking expertise and back end administration. What we still do today.

Writing a cheque is not difficult at all; but giving well is. In my years at NVPC, I kept hearing from people that they wanted to give, but did not know how. They didn’t know where the social needs were, or how to assess charities and programmes. So we helped them, cut out the hassle and thereby increasing the joy of giving.

But being a good idea is not enough. People had to believe that we could do what we said we would. We spent the best of our first five years just building credibility. And 10 years on, I am very proud of what we have built.

Catherine has already mentioned the numbers. Let me just include two more. One, at least three of our donors have gone on to form their own foundations. This to me is a sign that we have helped these donors learn and mature, and we can let them go on to do greater things. Two, when we conducted a comprehensive ‘Donor and Grantee Perception Survey’ a few years back, we had very high donor satisfaction ratings – with 83% satisfaction rates and 93% saying that they would recommend CFS services to others. But satisfaction among our grantee charities was even better: 94% rated CFS as efficient and effective. This shows that we are able to be close to the charities and help them bridge effectively to our donors.

As someone who has been so actively involved in the growing CFS, I am extremely proud of what we have achieved in these 10 years.

To come this far, there are many people I would like to thank, especially those who were there during our early years:

  • Our first Chairman Stanley Tan who not only was the architect and founding chair of CFS for its first five years till 22 Aug 2013, but he was also single-handedly responsible for bringing in the first $15 million in pledges.
  • The other founding board members – J Y Pillay, David Lim, Mary Ann Tsao, Kwek Siew Jin. As a young start-up, donors would typically ask who is on the board. When we mention J Y Pillay, they would immediately say, okay, I know I can trust you.
  • All staff who have helped make CFS’s first 1,000 days, without whom, we could not possibly be successful I would like to single out two amongst us today. Yvonne Yu who joined us in January 2009 and Joyce Teo who joined us in March 2009.
  • All our donors, particularly our founding donors who gave us a chance like Stanley Tan and MILK Fund, William and Mary Bird, Simon Cheong and UBS. We also have in our midst Yeoh Keng Joon, Vivien Goh, Changi Airport Group, Ascendas-Singbridge and the family of former President S R Nathan, who have all been strong supporters of CFS for many years. In fact, Mr Nathan officially launched CFS in February 2009, and subsequently trusted us with his S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund which is now over $10 million in size and has helped over 1000 students.
  • Our international advisory council members – Clare Brooks, Eileen Heisman, Anne Boyd and Bob Edgar. These people had so much experience, and they were incredibly generous to give us time to share and guide us. Whenever we had a difficult question, we would shoot it to one of them, and we would almost always get a detailed and insightful reply within 24 hours. They were simply amazing.

And the many others who came along and played their invaluable role in making us the success that we are today. Thank you all of you. This has truly been a community effort, and I am privileged to have been part of that journey.

What would the next 10 years look like for CFS? Moving forward, I believe there is still much work there needs to be done. I think CFS has only reached out to a small fraction of our addressable market. CFS has grown rapidly, but the number of people with significant means and who want to give strategically have increased substantially.

What is my own vision for CFS in 2028?

One, that we be at the forefront of community philanthropy, that we build this sense that the many communities in Singapore can come together to solve our own problems, without always looking to the government. I hope that in 2028, we will see mini community foundations in our neighbourhoods, in places like Toa Payoh, Queenstown and Punggol.

Two, that we have democratised giving. Giving is not only for the rich; everyone should and can give. I hope to see young adults start donor advised funds with us, at smaller amounts of commitment, and our collective funds grow with widespread contributions.

Three, I hope to see CFS raise $1 billion in donor funds, maybe not in 10 years’ time, but at some point in the future.  I believe we are at an inflection point. As we grow legacy giving, we are planting seeds for growth that will bear fruit in the future. I hope to encourage Singaporeans to give when we are alive and able to enjoy giving.

But this is my own vision. Over the next few months, we will be transitioning to a new chair.  We already know who the new chair is but will announce only a little later. So the new chair, together with the board, will develop and own the vision for the next 10 years. I can only step back and cheer them on.

All I know is this. CFS has come so far. Moving forward, CFS is well-positioned to continue to grow from strength to strength. We count on you present today, to continue journeying with us, to grow this community of givers. We all are part owners of CFS because we are all the part of the Singapore community. Be engaged. Broaden and deepen our community. Give more. And invite me back in 2028.

Thank you.

Laurence Lien
Chairman
Community Foundation of Singapore

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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

Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund – Training and placing marginalised individuals into stable jobs

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John Doe
People in masks and aprons preparing food in a restaurant.

The Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund (CIF) was launched in 2019 by The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), which provides vocational training and socio-emotional support for marginalised individuals in Singapore before placing them into jobs.

CIFs are flagship programmes established by CFS in partnership with charities to address unmet needs or under-supported social issues in Singapore. It takes a ground-up approach to understand the needs of care recipients and outcomes they care about to ensure that they would truly benefit from these programmes.

LIFT is designed to leverage the expertise of social enterprises in terms of job coaching and job matching. These programmes support persons with disabilities, persons recovering from mental illnesses, disadvantaged women and youth-at-risk who face challenges finding jobs and keeping them. 

In partnership with Bettr Barista and Project Dignity, LIFT saw 115 people receiving training at Bettr Barista Coffee Academy or Dignity Kitchen from April 2020 to March 2021. Ninety-one participants completed the training, and of those who had completed the course, 73 people were successfully hired, with 55 managing to remain employed for more than three months.

To support the LIFT Community Impact Fund, visit here. Read the media release here.

 

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

Picture of admin bluecube
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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

Why Support Sports with Philanthropy?

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John Doe

While philanthropy traditionally focuses on providing direct aid to those in need, its impact extends far beyond mere charity. Singapore owes much of its early development to philanthropists who made social investments in infrastructure, systems and people. In the case of sports, it can also be a driving force for national bonding and societal progress, nurturing a society where every member can thrive.

Singapore Badminton Players Loh Kean Kew and Yeo Jia Min posing with donor Karim Family Foundation at badminton court
L to R: Martin Andrew (SBA), Loh Kean Yew, Grace Chiong (KFF), Cindy Karim (KFF), Yeo Jia Min, Ashley Chan (CFS), Darrel Lim (CFS), Alan Ow (SBA)

While philanthropy traditionally focuses on providing direct aid to those in need, its impact extends far beyond mere charity. Singapore owes much of its early development to philanthropists who made social investments in infrastructure, systems and people. In the case of sports, it can also be a driving force for national bonding and societal progress, nurturing a society where every member can thrive.

Sports can unite the nation. It goes beyond gender, age and other factors, and brings us together. During COVID-19, Loh Kean Yew won the Badminton World Federation World Championships. That gave Singapore a lift in spirits. It gave everyone something to cheer about while we were cooped up at home.

In addition to fostering a sense of national pride, achieving success at international competitions serves to enhance Singapore’s global reputation. A vibrant competitive sports scene not only offers youths an alternative avenue to success but also yields numerous trickle-down benefits for community sports. These include promoting healthy lifestyles, instilling discipline in young individuals, and inspiring communities to embrace active living.

“Traditionally, sports development might be viewed as a national duty and the responsibility of government bodies,” says Ms Cindy Karim, principal of the Karim Family Foundation, a philanthropic foundation which contributes to sports development, arts & culture, mental health, and education. The family believes that philanthropy paired with government efforts can have a multiplier effect.

Support from the Karim Family Foundation 

In late 2021, the Karim family approached CFS to explore ways to support sports in Singapore. Ms Karim says, “We felt a deep concern for the underrepresentation of Southeast Asian athletes on the global stage.” Together with her father Bachtiar Karim, mother Dewi Sukwanto and brother Chayadi Karim, she established the Karim Family Foundation with the support of CFS.

When Loh Kean Yew won the BWF World Championships in December 2021, the Karim family asked CFS to facilitate a $200,000 contribution to the champion to support him and celebrate his achievements. “It takes much courage and sacrifice to dedicate oneself to pursuing excellence in badminton as a career. We hope that with our support, our national shuttlers won’t have to worry too much about the financial aspect. We hope they can be duly rewarded and celebrated for their achievements and focus all their energy on writing their own success story in time to come,” says Ms Karim.

When asked why she and her family chose to support badminton, Ms Karim says, “Growing up between Indonesia and Singapore, we have always felt a strong affinity to badminton as a sport. It has become a personal passion and mission to make badminton more widely known in professional sports.”

Challenges in Competitive Badminton

The Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) is the governing body for badminton in Singapore. It oversees the development of competitive badminton in Singapore and is dedicated to nurturing talent. Mr Ow, the CEO of SBA explains, “To reach world-class competition standards, players need to train and participate in competitions to develop their skills. Because there is only a small pool of players to compete against in local tournaments, overseas tournaments are essential for exposure to a wide range of high-calibre competitors.” However, overseas competitions require resources. Teams need sports and conditioning coaches and physiotherapists to accompany them. Expenses such as airfares, accommodations and tournament entry fees add to the hefty cost. Aspiring players often have to bear some of these expenses personally, which can be a barrier to realising their full potential.

Training and competition expenses are not the only financial constraints that players have. To succeed, competitive players must put in the hours, which frequently means committing to half a day of training, six days a week. The high training demands mean players end up sacrificing their studies or work, which can add to the financial strain.

Nurturing Talent in a Conducive Environment

CFS works closely with charity partners and donors to identify underserved needs that align with donors’ philanthropic goals. Working closely with the Karim family and the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA), CFS helped structure a funding arrangement that drives impact and excellence for future badminton stars. In May 2023, the Karim Family Foundation (KFF) donated $600,000 to fund the KFF-SBA Players’ Development Programme for three years. “We wish to support SBA’s ambitious efforts to elevate the sport in Singapore and internationally, and to build a strong pipeline of players. Our funding of the Players’ Development Programme is aimed at grooming players and enabling them to have as much exposure as possible by competing at the highest levels internationally,” says Ms Karim. Mr Ow estimates that the grant from KFF supports training and expenses for overseas competitions and training camps for about 40 players. The increased funding is expected to enable players to compete in approximately 50% more tournaments a year.

In addition to funding the development programme, the Karim family also contributed to the local competition scene as title sponsors of the KFF Singapore Badminton Open 2023, which brings world-class players to Singapore. “Through the excitement and hype of the event, we hope it will inspire future players,” says Ms Karim of KFF’s philanthropic strategy.

Championing Philanthropy for Sports

We hope that our work starts a perpetuating cycle of giving and support, and that with more philanthropic organisations coming forward, our national sports can earn its place amongst the reputable, celebrated sports of the world. Enabling players to achieve greater heights on the global stage bolsters Singapore’s standing as a vibrant community with talent and opportunities. We hope that in the long run, this effort will bring more exposure to the emerging talents within Southeast Asian professional sports.

She adds, “The process of setting up a Donor Advised Fund with CFS is simple, and donors can leverage the CFS team’s network, knowledge and expertise to be introduced to the right organisation that aligns with their philanthropic priorities. Having this option helps lower the barriers to entry and makes philanthropy more accessible.”

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.

Stories Of Impact

2020 Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award winner Natalie Koh: A talented musician with a heart for children with special needs

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John Doe
A woman gracefully plays the violin, showcasing her talent, dressed in a captivating blue gown.

Natalie’s first steps towards becoming a professional musician weren’t the easiest. Although she began learning violin at the tender age of five at her mother’s behest, Natalie barely passed her ABRSM exams in the fledgling years of learning the instrument. Nevertheless, it was her love for classical music and the violin that allowed her to persevere in her music-learning journey.

It was in her secondary and junior college years that she started developing a more well-rounded education in music.

‘I was in my school’s Higher Music Programme and Concert Band, instead of the obvious choice of String Ensemble. I also decided to involve myself in playing more orchestra and chamber music. I believe these experiences ultimately contributed to my growth as an aspiring musician, and allowed me to be more creative and expressive,’ Natalie explains.

Consequently, it was to her delight that Natalie successfully auditioned into Yong Siew Toh Conservatory back in 2016, where she spent four fruitful and rewarding years.

It was through the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory that the young musician broadened her horizons interacting with children with special needs. The Conservatory was working on a joint project with Superhero Me, an inclusive arts organisation that harnesses the creativity of art to empower children with and without special needs.

‘I realised that there were so many people whom I did not know about and that I did not interact with enough,’ says Natalie.

‘I felt compelled to learn more about the special needs community and connect with them more through art. Hence, I’ve been working primarily with Superhero Me since 2017 to facilitate art workshops and conduct music workshops. This December 2020, we are looking to stage a multi- sensory theatre production for children with autism, of which I am the composer and live musician.’

Whilst pursuing her undergraduate degree, Natalie received opportunities to perform in Japan and Canada in 2019 and 2020; two of the most memorable ones being the Chofu International Music Festival and the Musical Chairs Chamber Music Festival. The Chofu International Music Festival is led by renowned conductors Masaaki Suzuki and Masato Suzuki, and comprising professional musicians from top Japanese orchestras, like the NHK Symphony Orchestra and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.

‘I was thoroughly inspired and motivated by the high calibre of orchestra playing, and working side-by-side with professional musicians was unforgettable. The Musical Chairs Chamber Music Festival was held earlier this year in Montreal, Canada and was also coincidentally my last ‘live’ and most memorable performance before the COVID-19 restrictions,’ says the 22 year old musician.

Winning the 2020 Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award is a great honour for the young musician, and has definitely provided her with a boost of confidence. With the prize money, Natalie plans to fund part of her graduate studies in September 2021.

‘As a recipient of the Award, I will also have the opportunity to perform my own recital. I was supposed to have one as my graduation recital in April 2020 but alas, because of COVID-19 this was not meant to be,’ says Natalie regretfully.

‘I am glad that this opportunity to perform one last time is given to me, before I leave Singapore to pursue my further studies. After completing my Masters, I will return to Singapore and continue to teach the violin. I plan to start my own studio, and continue to perform as a freelancer in orchestras. I also hope to grow my portfolio as a community artist, to continue to share my passion for music with the special needs community and with people from all walks of life.’

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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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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.

News

CFS is 3rd largest philanthropic foundation in Singapore

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John Doe
a group of people wearing face masks walking in on the streets

They were immigrants who became titans of industry and philanthropists in their own right. Now the legacies endowed by and named for some of Singapore’s richest tycoons – the Lee, Lien and Shaw foundations – continue to be some of the biggest givers to charity here.

All three were among Singapore’s 10 largest philanthropic foundations, according to a report released last month.

The report found that the 10 spent a total of $189 million in their latest financial year to support a range of causes, from community service to education, to disaster relief.

The study by Soristic Impact Collective, a consultancy firm, said the Lee Foundation, founded by the late rubber tycoon Lee Kong Chian in 1952, topped the list.

In its latest financial year, it spent $52.8 million, of which $52 million was given out in grants and donations.

The Lee Foundation is said to give to a wide variety of causes, including education, healthcare and social services.

Temasek Foundation Innovates, one of six Temasek foundations, was second on the list. In its latest financial year, it had an annual expenditure of $29.2 million, of which $28.6 million was given out in grants and donations, according to the report.

Taking third place was the Community Foundation of Singapore, which spent $23.3 million in its latest financial year. Of the sum, $20.2 million was given out in grants and donations.

Donors pledge at least $200,000 to set up a fund with the foundation, which then manages the money, advises donors on various needs in the community and disburses the funds according to the donors’ wishes.

Ms Pauline Tan, principal consultant of Soristic Impact Collective, said the study is the first to rank philanthropic foundations in Singapore by expenditure.

Ms Tan said that countries like the United States and Britain have reports that rank their top philanthropic foundations, but there was no such research in Singapore.

She said: “Thus, we took on the challenge to work on gathering data to bring more transparency into this sector.

“The research will also be useful for charities in Singapore who can potentially use it to know which philanthropic foundations they can approach for funding.”

The consultancy scoured the annual reports and other public documents of foundations registered as charities with the Commissioner of Charities.

It found 91 philanthropic foundations whose work was funded by the founders’ personal wealth or by donations made by the company that set up the foundation.

Among the 91 foundations, 55 were set up by individuals or families and 20 were started by companies. The rest include other set-ups like The Hokkien Foundation and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

About a third of the 91 foundations spent at least $1 million in their latest financial year – this could be from 2018 to last year, depending on the foundation. The rest of the foundations spent less than $1 million.

Ms Tan said the foundations’ expenditure included grants and donations as well as manpower costs and other expenses to carry out the philanthropic work.

The report stated: “Philanthropic giving through foundations is set to grow as more wealthy individuals and companies set up foundations.

“Hence, the influence and role of philanthropic foundations in addressing needs in the community is set to grow.”

To make an impact with your giving, 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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