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Teach a man to fish — and pay for the rod too
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Opinion

Teach a man to fish — and pay for the rod too

John Doe
John Doe
Black silhouette of a woman fishing

We have all heard the popular proverb, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Everyone agrees, but few pay for the fishing rod.

Successful businesses invest in skills, people and infrastructure. In the same vein, donors need to fund these areas for charities to deliver social impact.

The challenge for charities
Donors often prefer funding programmes that support individual recipients directly over charitable overhead* expenses. This leads to negotiations for lower overhead costs or unwillingness to support programmes with high overhead costs. Many charities cave in to such expectations for fear of losing a potential funder.

Understandably, all donors want to achieve maximum impact for their gift, but reducing overheads is only good up to a point where the sustainability of the charity is not affected. All organisations incur manpower, training, rental and administrative costs at the very least. If charities are pressured to keep overhead costs unsustainably low, they will operate at sub-par levels and enter a vicious cycle of starvation.

At the Community Foundation of Singapore, we have learnt that when charities receive limited funding to cover overhead, service delivery is affected because charities have to divert resources to fundraise for the shortfall.

Honest conversations
There is growing recognition that efficiency is not determined by low overhead costs alone. Depending on the type of services or programmes, overhead can vary greatly across charities. For instance, a charity that distributes food rations via volunteers will have far lower overhead than a nursing home that hires skilled staff round-the-clock to provide care.

CFS works with its charity partners to present the true programme costs needed for social impact. With that in mind, we also work with donors to map out sustainable and impactful ways of giving.

We need to continue to have such conversations about true costs; the funding of overhead is just the tip of the iceberg in our search for sustainable social solutions.

Joyce Teo
Deputy CEO
Community Foundation of Singapore

*Overhead typically includes manpower, training, rental and administrative expenses.

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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

#MyGivingJourney X Corinna Lim: From legal advocate to leading gender equality advocate 

John Doe
John Doe
portrait of corinna

The #MyGivingJourney is a series by CFS where stories of remarkable women in the philanthropy sector are being told. In this story, we feature Corrina Lim, Executive Director at AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research). 

Serendipity played a big part in Corinna Lim becoming Singapore’s leading advocate for gender equality. She was working as a lawyer when a colleague who was pregnant asked if she would like to take her place providing free legal advice in a community centre. It was the early 1990s and opportunities for pro bono work were very limited.  

Every month, Corinna listened to the problems of women who were dealing with family violence, unfaithful husbands, husbands who did not support the family or ex-spouses who reneged on maintenance commitments. “It gave me so much satisfaction to be able to help these women. I was dispensing fairly basic legal advice but they felt heard and were extremely grateful for my pragmatic approach,” she says.  

The work was so fulfilling that she joined AWARE, the Association of Women for Action and Research, when they opened their legal clinic in 1992. Twice a month, after a long day’s work, she would offer advice, hope and empathy to women about their legal rights and options. “But rather than feeling depleted after these sessions, I always felt energised,” she says. 

AWARE’s work struck a chord with Corinna because they tackled issues at the individual level as well as at the systemic level too, chipping away at barriers to gender equality. In 2010, almost 20 years after first signing on as a volunteer at AWARE, she left her corporate law career to become the first executive director of Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group. 

As she sees it, AWARE has made an immense impact by pioneering, in 2011, sexual assault support for survivors and creating awareness of the challenges faced by survivors here. AWARE has also helped change laws which have resulted in more effective protection from harassment and more equal benefits for single parents. Its advocacy work has also contributed to the repeal of marital rape immunity and decriminalisation of attempted suicide. 

AWARE also works closely with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), which has long supported groups that help single mothers and marginalised women. Over the years, CFS has regularly facilitated grants from its donors to AWARE, including the recent grant call from Sayang Sayang Fund. Aside from this, CFS also collaborates with AWARE on research, most notably on a nationwide study on minimum household incomes.   

Although she studied for a career in law, Corinna knew from a very young age that she wanted to give back to society. Right out of university, she started a small enterprise to make products out of recycled paper. Later, even as she plugged away at a law firm, it was pro bono work that engaged her. “I did not find meaning practising as a lawyer, representing banks and corporations in their claims against smaller companies or individuals,” she says. Instead, she found her calling in NGO work. “Doing the work has made me a more empathetic and better human being,” says Corinna. 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more stories from #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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News

BLLNR: How to donate time and money to a charity effectively

John Doe
John Doe
portrait of a woman wearing a traditional dress

While the notion of giving is indeed widespread, it isn’t easy to commit to help those in need when you find yourself caught up in today’s ever-changing environment.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) is one such organisation that facilitates this line of work by bridging donors with causes of interest to develop programmes and provide grants to enrich lives. It values the 3 C’s to make giving better: connect donors with respective causes, collaborate with charities and commit to managing donor funds.

One woman has managed to significantly grow the number of donor funds and volume of donations, paving the way for an effective philanthropy — Catherine Loh, the Chief Executive Officer of CFS, believes in the heart of giving. However, her arrival into the philanthropy space was not immediate but serendipitous.

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Opinion

Sustainable Philanthropy Matters: Navigating the SDGs with Philanthropy

John Doe
John Doe
poster about sustainable philanthropy: navigating the SDGs with philanthropy

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.

Philanthropy has traditionally been aimed at supporting societal needs. In recent years, the increasingly pressing demand for climate reformation requires the influx of tremendous funding to support the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from R&D and technological applications to conservation and community efforts. Beyond the responsibilities of governments and businesses, philanthropy has a huge role to play. While this may sound novel, it actually is not and, in this third and final instalment of Sustainable Philanthropy Matters, we examine how philanthropy can help stem the tide of climate change.

The Interconnectedness of Sustainability

At first glance, the 17 SDGs might seem a little daunting, like some miniature Periodic Table meant to scare students. It may help to see this as one concerted effort to effect long-lasting change, to ensure the sustainable survival and thriving of both People and Planet.

This holistic approach is evident in that all the SDGs are, in fact, interconnected. In the last article, this was explained in a sustainable farming example. Besides these issues, the SDGs also help us to realise the borderless world we now live in. For example, rampant slash-and-burn agriculture in Indonesia (BBC News,bbc.com/news/world-asia-34265922 2019), droughts in California (Bernstein, 2015) and declining wild salmon populations in the Atlantic (Forseth, Barlaup, Einum, Finstad, Fiske et al, 2019, page 2) all have one thing in common: they affect communities in Singapore.

The first spells an annual onslaught of respiratory problems as haze blankets the country while the latter two impact our food supply, namely oranges and smoked salmon.

Everyone’s Cost to Bear

Those three problems are just some of the innumerable issues worldwide that the SDGs seek to address. A glance at the big picture shows that achieving the SDGs has a hefty price tag of an estimated $5t to $7t, although the silver lining of this is that that achievement could open up $12t of market opportunities (United Nations, 2022).

However, the localised impact demonstrated above makes it abundantly clear that we all have a stake in ensuring that those goals are achieved. Singapore’s enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NCCS, 2022) towards the SDGs, executed through initiatives such as the Green Plan 2030 (SG Green Plan, 2022) and 30 by 30 (SFA, 2021), cannot be achieved by the public and private sector alone. It requires individuals’ combined efforts, through practice and philanthropy.

The role of and need for philanthropy is even greater when we consider the Singaporean Government’s stance to avoid being a welfare state and instead, offer tiered and limited safety nets for those in need (MOF, 2020). While there is certainly a need to address the SDGs in the local context—such as those relating to poverty, hunger, health and education—Singaporeans are required to help themselves in this meritocratic system.

Partly because this is clearly easier said than done, a small sum is deducted from employees’ wages in Singapore that goes towards four racially-oriented Self Help Groups. So unless one opts out of this scheme, every salaried resident in Singapore is already involved in some form of philanthropy. 

Charities, Charities Everywhere

Of course, that sum is a miniscule drop in the large scheme of things, with $25.69m for the CDAC$8.54m for Mendaki$18.87m for SINDA and $0.78m for the Eurasian Community Fund, against a national total of $2.9b donations in 2019 (MCCY, 2020, page 4). Many non-profits and voluntary welfare organisations and their care recipients still rely on the goodwill of philanthropists.

While there are thankfully many generous donors out there, there is also a baffling number of charities and IPCs (Institutes of Public Character, which are held to even more stringent governance standards): 2,281 at the end of 2019, to be exact (MCCY, 2020, pages 13 and 17). Just like the SDGs, more charities are related to addressing societal needs than environmental ones.

That line is blurring today with countless examples: a centre for autism implementing an urban farming programme, a society that safeguards the cleanliness of our waterways for the local wildlife and citizens alike, and tree planting exercises for the public by the Garden City Fund.

Yet, there are still a lot of untapped opportunities. We need to develop programmes and build the capability that will allow our social sector to effectively address the SDGs in the local context and with environmental considerations. That requires funding — for research, pilot programmes and training.

A Touch of Philanthropic Professionalism

In breaking all this new ground, it is prudent to apply a layer of Governance checks over the Social and Environmental orientations and objectives of all the organisations and programmes.

Thankfully, one does not need to worry too much about Governance here in Singapore. Local regulations require charities and IPCs alike to be transparent about their operations, activities and finances.

As a winner of two accolades for transparency and governance at the 2019 Charity Governance Awards, CFS is ever-cognisant of the importance of balancing the outputs and outcomes of charities and their activities with their strategy and operational methods.

If you would like to know more about how CFS can help you source for, identify and evaluate programmes that both meet your philanthropic preferences and address the SDGs, please visit 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. BBC News. (16 September 2019). Indonesia haze: Why do forests keep burning? https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34265922
  2. Bernstein, Sharon. (2015). California citrus farmers pull up trees, dig reservoirs to survive drought. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-california-drought-farmers-idUSKCN0RB15420150911
  3. Forseth, T.,  Barlaup, B. T., Einum, S., Finstad, B., Fiske, P, et al. (2019). Status of wild Atlantoc salmon in Norway 2019. https://www.vitenskapsradet.no/Portals/vitenskapsradet/Pdf/Status%20of%20wild%20Atlantic%20salmon%20in%20Norway.pdf
  4. Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. (September 2020). Commissioner of Charities: Annual Report 2019https://www.charities.gov.sg/PublishingImages/Resource-and-Training/Publications/COC-Annual-Reports/Documents/Commissioner%20of%20Charities%20Annual%20Report%202019.pdf
  5. Ministry of Finance. (Updated 25 November 2020). Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review: Social Safety Nets. https://www.mof.gov.sg/singapore-public-sector-outcomes-review/citizens/opportunities-for-all-at-every-stage-of-life/social-safety-nets
  6. National Climate Change Secretariat of Singapore. (28 February 2020). Singapore’s Enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution and Long-Term Low-Emissions Development Strategy.  https://www.nccs.gov.sg/media/press-release/singapores-enhanced-nationally-determined-contribution-and-long-term-low-emissions-development-strategy
  7. SG Green Plan. (Updated 28 January 2022). https://www.greenplan.gov.sg/
  8. Singapore Food Agency. (Updated 17 December 2021). https://www.ourfoodfuture.gov.sg/30by30
  9. United Nations. (Accessed 16 February 2022). FAQ: How much will the implementation of this sustainable development agenda cost? https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/
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Opinion

Our Annual Report 2023 is now available for download

John Doe
John Doe
CFS Annual Report 2023

We are excited to share the release of the Community Foundation of Singapore’s (CFS) Annual Report for 2023.

With the overarching theme of ‘Creating a Better Tomorrow Together’, the report highlights the work done to inspire and facilitate strategic giving to benefit our local community. We showcase the enhancements we have made to our service offerings, governance standards, and operational efficiencies over the past year. It stands as a testament to CFS’s unwavering commitment to proactively identify and address emerging community needs, and our experience and expertise that enables us to drive tangible impact.

Here are some key highlights from the Annual Report 2023:

A Year of Steady Progress:

Against a backdrop of slower economic growth in 2022, donations remained high and our rolling three-year average continued on an upward trend. Our community of dedicated philanthropists continued to grow. Through strategic partnerships with corporations such as Accenture, Endowus, and other institutions, we harnessed a wealth of expertise to amplify our impact. 

The past year marked a significant milestone, with 47 new donors establishing 27 Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs). Their generous contributions allowed us to allocate $16.8 million in grants to 212 organisations spanning diverse causes, demonstrating the incredible power of collective giving.

In collaboration with the Agency of Integrated Care (AIC), we launched the FUN! Fund, a community impact fund focused on improving the well-being and happiness of our seniors through innovative programmes designed to infuse fun into their lives.

Making a Greater Impact:

In 2022, CFS took significant strides towards ensuring outcome-driven grantmaking. Our grant framework now places a strong emphasis on measurable change, ensuring greater impact for both our donors and charity partners.

Throughout the year, CFS’ Centre for Applied Philanthropy (CAP) played a pivotal role in fostering collaboration across public, private, and community sectors to address complex social challenges. This collaborative approach will gain even more momentum in 2023.

With sustainability advocacy being one of our key focal areas, we strengthened our ESG framework. This involved aligning our programmes with the United Nations’ Social Development Goals, a move that underscores our commitment to making a lasting positive impact.

The potential of philanthropy lies in its capacity to bring about enduring, positive change. As we look back on the year and observe the significant impact made possible by the support of our donors, we find inspiration to continue our efforts. Our grants have helped to improve the lives of many, including refugees seeking to rebuild their lives, youths in need of mental resilience, disadvantaged students receiving evidence-based after-school tutoring, dementia patients receiving specialised care, marginalised job seekers receiving coaching and training, and nurturing the next generation of climate champions. 

Connect with Us: 

CFS is deeply committed to advancing strategic philanthropy, and positioning Singapore as Asia’s philanthropy hub. To achieve this, we actively serve as an Enabler, Steward, Convener, and Advocate.

We are eager to connect and collaborate with donors, charities, partners, and sector leaders to build a more compassionate, caring, and inclusive Singapore. To learn more about CFS or join us on our mission, we welcome you to get in touch.

For an in-depth exploration of the year’s milestones and the impact of our contributions to the community, click here to download your copy.

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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”。

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.

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