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Sustainable Philanthropy Matters: The History of Caring and Charity
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Sustainable Philanthropy Matters: The History of Caring and Charity

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In this three-part series ‘Sustainable Philanthropy Matters’, we explore the surprisingly intimate relationship between philanthropy and sustainability and how the practice of one can in fact, lead to the advancement of the other. Both of these issues are close to our hearts here at CFS and we want to share how our philanthropy can help preserve our planet, our communities and our future.

Believe it or not, philanthropy and sustainability are concepts that have been around for millennia. Our forefathers understood the need for charity and living with the future in mind long before we had frameworks and modern models for them.

Examining the Roots of Giving

Although the word philanthropy, or philanthropia as the ancient Greeks called it, first emerged about 7000 years ago, it meant a love for one’s fellow people, not so much the donation of drachmas.

In fact, it was not until about 5000 years later, as described in the Bible, that a form of community where those who shared what they had with those who had not really began. Although some may argue that this was communism, not charity; however, this was an early record of giving resources to help those in need. While the term sustainability seems like a pretty modern buzzword, elements of this actually existed 3,000 years ago. It was discovered that humans in the late Neolithic period had developed a method of sustainably obtaining their firewood, avoiding deforestation and ensuring they would always have a way to keep warm (Dufraisse, 2008, pp199-210).

This could be said to be the distant ancestor of the 1713 Principle of Saxony formulated by Hans Carl von Carlowitz. His forestry treatise discussed the “continuously enduring and sustainable use” of the forest for wood (World Ocean Review, 2015).

Philanthropy in the Present

Giving to others has continued to exist till today, expanding from religious origins to permeate many facets of society. Tithes still exist but now one can donate through the Government or via non-profit and voluntary welfare organisations. The range of beneficiaries has also expanded, with those in need ranging from children and people with disabilities to isolated seniors, ex-offenders and so much more. The underlying commonality is that they are almost always in financial need of some sort. And it is the act of giving a monetary donation to support these beneficiaries that is the philanthropy we have come to know today.

However, evidence of financial contributions towards the environment only came along in the middle of the 20th century. It began in 1941, to be exact, with Rockefeller funding conservation activities across the United States, amongst his numerous other philanthropic efforts (Rockefeller Brothers Fund, 2022). And it was only seven years after that that the International Union for Conservation of Nature—the oldest environmental organisation in the world, mind you—was only established on 5 October 1948.

The Purpose of Philanthropy and Planning Ahead

For those who give, whether to social or environmental causes, there is a variety of reasons as to why we do so: a sense of obligation, concern over a particular issue, a desire to see a better future and, yes, even tax relief. It is alright to be pragmatic!

However, giving towards social causes has a deep-seated, almost unconscious need to grow the community. From ancient times, we humans have understood the strength in numbers, which is why we formed communities, or tribes as they were called back then.  

However, in banding together, there was an inevitable strain on resources. This created the need to be responsible for how we consumed our natural resources and, in a larger sense, be mindful of how our actions impacted the environment.

Charity + Conservation = Sustainability

Without the ever-present danger of a larger tribe taking over our own, or at least not in Singapore, there is little direct and personal benefit to us as a donor, apart from tax deduction and a sense of well-being.

We give simply because we care. That is the link between the two.

Whether it is towards social or environmental causes, community or green philanthropy, our contributions show that we care for others. It could be for the present, through financial assistance for daily living for instance, or for future generations, through conservation efforts. Because, after all, the children of our children will need a liveable world in which to grow up.

It can be a little daunting, given the sheer range of needs that society faces today, to consider also the needs of those who have not yet been born.

Leave a Legacy

Thankfully, the world (and its needs) does not rest on one’s shoulders alone. With years of experience in studying philanthropic trends and working to understand the needs of the community and environment, The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) can help you add your footprint to humankind’s long and ongoing journey of giving.

We value the creation of positive impact while keeping in mind the bigger picture of how the contribution will create sustained change.

At CFS, we steward our donors, through their funds, to make their mark on our community and our planet. Whether they contribute today or over the years, it will be their legacy. To find out how you can leave your legacy for tomorrow, please visit here.

To learn more about CFS’s Corporate Sustainability efforts, please read more here.

To read the other 2 stories in the ‘Sustainable Philanthropy Matters’ series, please click below:

This article was written by Adam, a Principal Consultant with CFS and an experienced sustainability practitioner. He is an advocate for sustainable practices. His colleagues are still wondering how his monthly household utilities bill is only around $70.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CFS or its members.

References

  1. Alexa Dufraisse. (2008). Firewood management and woodland exploitation during the late Neolithic at Lac de Chalain (Jura, France). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 17(2).
  2. World Ocean Review 4. (2015). Sustainable Use of Our Oceans – Making Ideas Work. https://worldoceanreview.com/en/wor-4/concepts-for-a-better-world/what-is-sustainability/
  3. Rockefeller Brothers Fund. (Accessed 2022). Conservation and the Environmenthttps://www.rbf.org/about/about-us/conservation-and-environment
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Events

Recipients of S R Nathan Education Award meet former president over tea

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Picture of the recipients of the S R Nathan Education Award had tea with the former president at the Eurasian Community House

The recipients of the S R Nathan Education Award had tea with the former president at the Eurasian Community House on Saturday. The award is given to outstanding students who have been accepted into the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) or any of the five polytechnics. Read more.

Speaking after the association’s annual general meeting at Kallang Netball Centre on Friday, Liang-Lin, a fund manager for a US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) firm focused on green real estate investments in Asia, hopes to bring her expertise to the table and increase the amount of financial support for Singapore netball during her four-year term.

The 53-year-old took over from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jessica Tan, who has been the association’s president since 2012. Tan had reached the end of her tenure, which saw the national team make several breakthroughs, including a gold medal at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Liang-Lin holds various appointments such as being Singapore’s representative to the G20 for Women appointed by the Ministry of Finance. She is also a board member of the Community Foundation of Singapore, which promotes philanthropy through facilitating the establishment of charitable funds.

She said: “One of the things that is overlooked when we look at philanthropy and fundraising is that sport is not really part of the things that people will automatically think about.

“Less than one per cent of the funds that we raise in the Community Foundation goes to sport. The values that sport brings need to be amplified more, so that corporates… see the need to support sport. I think that link needs to be stronger so that we get not just more corporate sponsors, but also they can come in for longer periods of time.”

While national agency Sport Singapore provides funding to netball, corporates can also do their part, she added.

She said: “If we play our cards correctly, we can get corporates to come in and hopefully support them, to see the wider purpose of sport and bring the nation together.”

She also hopes the association can be proactive in looking for financial support, adding: “We must work more strategically with governing bodies on educating corporates on the importance of really supporting sport.”

The former netball player also made references to the recent Women’s World Cup for football, noting the “ability for a game that focuses on women in the sport to bring global attention”.

She said: “I want that kind of trajectory of the limelight going to women’s sport. I think that is a trend that will continue, and I hope that netball will be part of that trend.”

Meanwhile, Tan was satisfied that she has achieved the three objectives she had set out to do when she came on board – to improve quality of play, build a fan base and create an ecosystem which involves coaches and players.

The 57-year-old added: “As much as I do feel sad about having to step down, but at the same time, leadership renewal is very important.

“I think Trina will help to galvanise the team together, and bring a lot of new perspectives and quality to the association.”

Join us in making an impact on Singapore sports scene! Reach out to us for more information.

Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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

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

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

 

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

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

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

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

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News

Bank of Singapore partners Community Foundation of Singapore to provide clients with philanthropy services

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Bank of Singapore, the private banking subsidiary of OCBC Bank, has partnered with non-profit organisation Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) to provide its clients with philanthropic services. 

 With this partnership, CFS will work with the bank’s clients to translate their interests, values and goals into philanthropic strategies that meet giving goals of the clients and match the needs of the local community. To develop these strategic giving plans, CFS will use insights from its Charities and Grants team and consult its philanthropy advisors.

In a press release on Monday (May 23), Bank of Singapore stated that the partnership comes at an “opportune time” as philanthropic activities amongst ultra-high and high net worth individuals are on the rise. 

Headquartered in Singapore, the bank serves high net worth individuals and wealthy families markets of Southeast Asia, Greater China, Philippines, India Sub-Continent and other international markets. 

Based on statistics from Knight Frank, 54 per cent of global family offices, a strategic client segment that the bank is focused on building, were increasing their philanthropic activity in 2021. 

Bahren Shaari, chief executive officer of Bank of Singapore, believes that CFS’ expertise and insights into Singapore’s charitable landscape will help the bank’s clients to map out charitable-giving goals that align with their values and ambitions.

This article was originally published in The Business Times here. Source: The Business Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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News

Our Annual Report 2021 is now available for download

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cover of CFS annual report

We are pleased to share that the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) Annual Report 2021 has been published. Download your copy here to learn more about the year’s highlights and our impact on the community. 

Even as the pandemic gripped our nation, we are humbled to report that – together with our donors, charities, and partners – CFS delivered a year of bold action and made tremendous progress on our mission to facilitate impactful giving.

CFS delivered a record of $24 million in grants – the highest since our inception – disbursed to 291 organisations and 13 individuals, and a total of $5.7 million via the establishment of 19 new funds for the financial year ended 31 March 2021.

The Annual Report contains the following information:

  • Corporate Information 
  • Key Highlights
  • Forward Vision
  • Governance and Policies
  • Financial Statements
  • Grantees List

Regarding the year under review, the report reflects the information contained in CFS’ annual results, as well as the audited consolidated financial statements. 

CFS stands ready to work alongside all of you to champion greater giving and create a better world for future generations. To find out more about CFS, get in touch with us.

About CFS

The Community Foundation of Singapore is a non-profit organisation founded in 2008 to encourage and enable philanthropy in Singapore. We match donors’ interests with causes and offer ways for them to make a greater impact through their charitable funds. We also collaborate with charity partners to identify and develop programmes that support diverse communities. 

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News

The Asian Parent: Is your bub safe with infant educarers? This carer tells all!

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“Well, all that hard work did not go unnoticed, for Madam Intan was awarded the Leading Foundation Teacher Award (LFTA) last year. For the uninitiated, the Leading Foundation Teacher Award is an initiative by the Leading Foundationwhich supports programmes in education and leadership. It is administered by the Community Foundation of Singapore, a non-profit philanthropic organisation that bridges donors with community needs.

The LFTA recognises passionate and dedicated teachers who have made significant contributions to the care and teaching of children in the fields of early childhood and special needs education.

Madam Intan confides, “I never thought that I would receive a National award and I feel honoured, glad and thankful to those who believed in me and affirmed my role as an infant educator.” Read more.

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