S E C O N D
A N N I V E R S A R Y
No. 13 Jan-Feb 2006
I S S U E !
For Volunteers, Donors and Nonprofits
Rocks? The NPO Perspective
Law & Order
Singapore Police Force
NTUC Income’s Tan Kin Lian
Teresa Hsu’s Inspiring Journey
Who Governs a Nonprofit,
Willie Cheng Talks Corporate Governance
SALT No. 13 Jan-Feb 2006
LETTER FROM SALT
Personality ON THE COVER At her age, most people (if they should live that long) would be content to take it easy. Not centenarian Teresa Hsu. Read all about this life-long volunteer’s inspiring story on page 10.
Rocks? Do strong personalities necessarily make for good leaders, especially where nonprofit organisations are concerned? In the wake of the NKF saga, WONG SHER MAINE ponders if it could be a case of more harm than good.
11 PEOPLE SECTOR PEOPLE For Denise Phua, president of the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) and supervisor of Pathlight School, it’s about giving your all to a cause you believe in.
Photographed by Ray Tan.
23 Who Governs a Nonprofit, Really?
WILLIE CHENG kicks off his new SALT column on business and nonprofit paradigms with a current hot topic – governance in the charity sector in Singapore.
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NEWS BRIEFS A wrap-up of events, programmes and activities in the People Sector. PEOPLE MOVEMENTS Appointments and new postings in the People Sector.
18 WALK THE TALK
NVPC Awards 2005 Good food, fine wine, great company and truly inspirational success stories – it was certainly a night to remember at the nonprofit sector’s event of the year.
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Our men in blue prove that they do much more for the community beyond maintaining law and order on our island.
19 NEW SALT Standing up for the rights of a group neglected by mainstream society is what makes Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) tick.
22 SALT AND PEPPER Rejoicing in our differences can open our hearts to even greater joy, says Magdalene Koh.
28 SCENE AND SEEN
SALT SHAKERS AND MOVERS
A Different Sort of Man CEO of NTUC Income Tan Kin Lian isn’t afraid of being different. In fact, he seems to thrive on it, as SUZANNE LIM discovers.
30 CALENDAR 32 A DASH OF SALT
Jan-Feb 2006 S A LT •
L E T T E R
F R O M
S A L T
SALT is a nonprofit magazine with a managed circulation for members of nonprofit organisations, grantmakers and companies in Singapore. Those interested in receiving a copy, please email email@example.com. We regret that the print run prevents fulfilling all requests. International readers please email subscriber requests and mailing details. There will be an annual postage and handling charge for all international subscribers.
EDITOR Suzanne Lim
CONTRIBUTORS Adeline Ang Michelle Bong Wong Sher Maine
PUBLISHING CONSULTANT AND MEDIA REPRESENTATIVE Epigram SALT is published bi-monthly by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre 7 Maxwell Road #05-01 Annex B, MND Complex Singapore 069111 Tel: 6550 9595 Fax: 6221 0625 Website: www.nvpc.org.sg Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright is held by the publisher. All rights reserved. Production in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. The views and opinions expressed or implied in SALT are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher. Printed by Fabulous Printers MICA (P) 033/11/2005 To advertise, please call Cynthia Tay at tel: 6292 4456 Email: email@example.com
Welcome to the second anniversary edition of SALT. The nonprofit sector in Singapore is going through a great awakening. Since making its appearance in January 2004, SALT has been well timed to capture the developments of an industry that is taking baby steps to maturity. 2005 was a tumultuous year for the sector to say the least, and 2006 looks set to be a year that will significantly impact its work, with expected changes to the regulatory framework for charities. With all that’s going on and to come, we have introduced a new column, SALT Thoughts, which features ex-NVPC chairman Willie Cheng’s reflections, with the benefit of his private sector experience, on nonprofit sector paradigms. His first contribution pointedly asks “Who owns a nonprofit, really?”, begging the question as to who a nonprofit is ultimately accountable to. In the aftermath of the hugely successful TV fundraiser for Ren Ci Hospital anchored by its charismatic CEO, Venerable Shi Ming Yi, our lead article fittingly investigates the issue of personality-driven causes. The reality is that causes start with the passion of an individual, and it is that individual who moves the cause forward, who finds the resources to make it happen and who, many times, is the face of the cause it champions. Whilst there are obvious benefits of a strong personality, what are the limitations and pitfalls of a personality-driven nonprofit organisation? One strong personality in the corporate world is Tan Kin Lian, the long-serving CEO of NTUC Income who has rocked the insurance industry with his many innovative practices. Income has been very much in the forefront of supporting community causes, and it is good news for the sector that he eschews floating the cooperative because it would constrain him in developing Income’s community involvement efforts. Still speaking of personalities, I’m sure few who attended our Awards gala dinner (see page 26) could forget the magnetic effect that long-time volunteer Teresa Hsu had on the entire audience as she appeared on stage at the Oriental Hotel ballroom to receive her Special Recognition Award from Deputy Prime Minister Professor S Jayakumar. A quiet lifetime of service from one who sees herself as a sister to humanity deserves no less than the highest accolade a nation can give to recognise that spirit of charitable giving that NVPC is promoting. And so even as we ask whether it should not be the cause rather than the personality that is attracting resources to do the work, this issue of SALT celebrates the many individuals – both public personae and those who quietly work behind the scenes – without whose conviction, bravery and tenacity in overcoming the odds, many causes would have fallen by the wayside. Long live the bravehearts of the nonprofit world! Tan Chee Koon Chief Executive Officer National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre
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DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SHARE? We welcome your letters, news of upcoming events and pictures. Please send them to SALT, 7 Maxwell Road, #05-01 Annex B, MND Complex, Singapore 069111; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number. Letters and articles may be edited for space and clarity.
Kudos for SALT Nov-Dec 2005
Thank you, NVPC
Dear Editor, he best homesickness remedy you could have possibly given me was to keep me on the SALT mailing list. SALT has been my sustenance for news about the nonprofit universe back home ever since I migrated to Canberra, Australia last year. Thank you for the article “Willie’s Take On...” in your Nov-Dec 2005 issue. My former boss never fails to leave profound words of wisdom in his trail. What I enjoyed even more was reading Michelle Bong’s “One People, One Nation, One Singapore?” Having spent some time at L’Arche Genesaret in Canberra, a community that welcomes people with intellectual handicaps, I realised with sadness how Singaporeans are quick to stereotype and how much more fragmented Singapore society will become as efficiency and technology surpass counter-cultural solidarity. As my role model Bunker Roy, founder of the Barefoot College in India, would say; “It’s back to basics.” Unless we are willing to “waste time” to establish real friendships with those marginalised by society, we’ll never really appreciate the bonds of commonality we share and the wisdom they impart from their own life experiences. I bear witness to this truth. Carry on the good work with SALT and keep those thought provoking articles flowing!
Dear Mrs Tan Chee Koon, e would like to express our sincere gratitude to you and your staff for introducing us to David Lim and Partners who had supported us tirelessly in our efforts to establish the CapitaLand Hope Foundation. Your staff had also provided us with relevant information and your SALT magazine provided very good reference materials in our work. It is clear that our foundation could not have been established this year without you and your staff ’s assistance.
Magdalene Koh, Canberra, Australia
Editor’s Note: Read all about Magdalene’s experience at L’Arche in this issue’s Salt & Pepper on page 22. Dear Editor, read with interest the interview with Willie Cheng in the Nov-Dec 2005 issue of Salt. It has been a pleasure working with Mr Cheng to develop Food from the Heart’s latest initiative, Café Heart, at the Singapore Science Centre. We have greatly benefited from his wealth of experience in the philanthropy sector and his sharpness of intellect and can-do spirit never fail to inspire us. I would also like to comment on the article on expat-initiated charities. I feel that it paints only half the picture as these expat-initiated charities would not be able to succeed without the support of the local community. At Food from the Heart for example, our daily bread runs are undertaken by our group of volunteers, the vast majority of whom are locals. We also tap into a pool of local professionals who share their expertise on the local practices and cultural sensibilities which we as expats are less attuned to. Our able team of local administrators also runs our operations seamlessly. A friend introduced an excellent Chinese saying to me – “pang guan zhe qing” ie the situation is crystal clear when viewed from the outside. I feel that as expats, our “outsider” status sometimes gives us a better position from which to initiate change, compared to someone who grew up here and is all too aware of the constraints of introducing something radical, or who stands to lose from upsetting local norms. But I hasten to add that we and many of our expat friends do not see ourselves as “outsiders”. Instead, we have come to love Singapore and we treat it as our home. And that is our greatest motivation to serve the community – to make our home a cosier place.
Christine and Henry Laimer, Founders Food from the Heart
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Gerald Lee, Senior Vice President Corporate Marketing, CapitaLand Hope Foundation
National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2005 Dear Rear-Admiral (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin, hank you for inviting my staff and I to the National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards gala dinner at The Oriental on 24 November 2005. Amidst the great ambience and heart-warming atmosphere where we highlighted and celebrated the achievements of those deserving volunteers, we also enjoyed the excellent cuisine. It was indeed a night to remember. We would also like to thank you for giving us a honourable mention in the Corporate Citizen Award category. Viewing the videos depicting the achievements of the Award winners, we are inspired to strive harder in our efforts to reach out to those who need our help.
Tan Puay Kern, Director, Public Affairs and Special Duties, Singapore Police Force
N E W S B
A WRAP-UP OF HAPPENINGS AROUND SINGAPORE
There were smiles all around at the SingTel Touching Lives Fund cheque presentation ceremony.
n a year fraught with challenges for fundraising, SingTel’s Touching Lives Fund successfully raised $2.25 million last year for six children’s charities affiliated to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), exceeding its original target of $2 million. This was made possible through generous contributions and initiatives from members of the public, SingTel’s business partners, customers and employees as well as dollar-for-dollar matching from SingTel. Since its launch in 2002, the fund has raised a total of $8 million for the less privileged in Singapore. SingTel Group CEO Lee Hsien Yang presented the cheque to NCSS president Gerard Ee at a cheque presentation event on 11 November 2005.
Toys on Wheels F
SPH – The Straits Times
or families in financial difficulty, toys are considered luxury items and yet, they are also a source of so much joy. With this in mind, Food From The Heart (FFTH) started a special yearly project – Toys from the Heart – last year to spread cheer to children from needy families during the festive season. This year, students from nine donor schools donated a total of 10,000 beautifully wrapped up toys towards the project. A special “toy truck” sponsored by DaimlerChrysler delivered the toys (and smiles) to pupils from 25 neighbourhood schools, children living in welfare homes as well as children from family service centres such as MENDAKI and SINDA. For more information, visit www.foodheart.org.
CHILD AID, CHILD AIDED
concert to showcase Singapore’s young music talents raised $335,000 for the ST School Pocket Money Fund and the BT Budding Artists Fund, two funds to help the JazzKids from Kids Performing had the audience tapping their feet less privileged children of Singapore. in rhythm to their energetic performance. For two hours at the University Cultural Centre, guest-of-honour President S R Nathan enjoyed performances by 13 award-winning youngsters, including piano prodigy Abigail Sin, violinist Loh Jun Hong, harpist Lee Yun Chai, JazzKids from Kids Performing, and jazz singer Nathan Hartono.
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Independent film maker Tan Pin Pin was one of the SI grant recipients in 2005.
CELEBRATING LOCAL TALENT
stablished in 2000 to showcase Singapore’s unique achievements and culture overseas, the Singapore Internationale (SI) grant recipients for 2005 included three individuals and five groups, whose works range from Tamil literature to theatre, food, scientific research and films. Twice annually, SI grants up to $4,000 for individuals and $15,000 for group projects. To date, SI has helped 82 Singaporean individuals and groups display their talents and works to the world, including independent film maker Tan Pin Pin, theatre practitioner Ramesh Meyyappan and the Singapore Indian Orchestra and Choir. For more information about the SI grants, visit www.sif.org.sg/fos/siindex.html.
ENABLING THE DISABLED
nonprofit organisation funded by the Ministry of Community, Development Youth and Sports and run by the Society of Moral Charities, the Disability Information & Referral Centre (DIRC) is designed to act as a one-stop centre which empowers the disabled by offering useful and timely information on disability services. It also acts as a first-stop where referrals to disability support services can be made. Launched in July 2005, DIRC also manages an online portal (www.disability.org.sg) and conducts public education on topics related to disability. For more information, call 1800-347 2222, or email email@example.com
Mind Over Matter
raving strong winds and rain, Venerable Shi Ming Yi kept his calm and his balance to walk a distance of about 20 metres on 15cm-wide parallel beams atop the 66-storey Republic Plaza, all in the name of fundraising. This feat by the 43-year-old chairman and CEO of Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre drew more than Venerable Shi with MediaCorp artistes involved in the Ren Ci Charity Show. 240,000 calls for the Ren Ci Charity Show on 8 January 2006, the most for any of the performers that evening which included Taiwanese group S.H.E., singer David Tao and local celebrities who performed stunts during the three-and-a-half hour show. At press time, $7.26 million in donations had been received, exceeding the original target of $5 million.
INSURANCE MADE EASY
knowledge gap amongst consumers on insurance products has prompted NTUC Income to launch a website to help the public learn the basic facts in their own time, thus removing the pressures of seeing an agent and the almost inevitable hard sell. The result of a recent Income public survey that showed that some 70 per cent of the respondents preferred learning about insurance in their own time, if it can be made easily available to them. KnowYourInsurance.com.sg covers common insurance products such as motor insurance, personal accident, financial planning, travel insurance, saving for education and medical insurance. “NTUC Income believes in educating our consumers on insurance products and
helping them to make the right choices. By setting up this educational website, we provide an option to the consumer to learn about the basic facts of insurance on their own. It is an easy and fun way to learn,” said Income CEO Tan Kin Lian. The cooperative’s website has attracted more than 3,000 visitors since its launch. For more information, visit www.KnowYourInsurance.com.sg.
Colin Chow joined the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) as its executive director in January 2006. A veteran in the IT industry, he has been with Hewlett-Packard since 1984, holding various regional posts in China and emerging countries. He was most recently general manager of its imaging and printing group in Singapore. Colin hopes to contribute back to the industry that has nurtured him for the past 23 years and to continue the good work done by SiTF. Founded in 1982, SiTF has almost 500 corporate members, comprised of MNCs and local companies. Tel: 63259700; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maretta Emery was appointed head of philanthropy services for Asia at MeesPierson, the Private Bank of Fortis, in January 2006. A chartered accountant and certified fundraising executive, she has over 18 years of senior management experience within the charity sector, and has been instrumental in raising the professional standards of fundraisers in North America. She is past chair of the Canadian Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Foundation for Philanthropy and currently sits on the International AFP Board which has 27,000 members worldwide. Tel: 65394780; Email: email@example.com
Ng Siew Eng was appointed company manager of Singapore Lyric Opera in February 2006. She was an arts administrator with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra for 14 years before joining Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) in 1993 as company manager. Under her management, SDT expanded and toured extensively in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific. She also launched SDT’s immensely successful Ballet Under the Stars, now an annual event in Singapore. Siew Eng’s duties at SLO will include fundraising and audience development activities. Tel: 63361929 Victor Seow joined Methodist Co-operative Society Ltd as its general manager with effect from 3 January 2006. He was previously deputy director of corporate development with the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre. The Methodist Co-operative Society Ltd is a people-centred business cum social enterprise with the objectives of returning value to its members as well as helping to meet the social needs of our society through the collective resources and economic strengths of the Methodist community. Tel: 64784765; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan-Feb 2006 S A LT •
Just a few of the 600 happy recipients of FairPrice’s study grants for 2006.
Back to School... With a Smile E
very December, needy students looking forward to the new school year have reason to smile because of NTUC FairPrice. This year, more than 100 teenagers from Hwa Chong Institution, Dunman High School and Montfort Secondary School spent three weeks together with staff volunteers to sort old textbooks for FairPrice’s Used Textbooks Project. Besides this annual textbook recycling community project, FairPrice also gave out study grants to more than 600 children of FairPrice’s members and employees, ranging from $200 for primary students to $3,000 for undergraduates. Said Tan Kian Chew, FairPrice’s CEO, “Students face tremendous pressure these days to perform well. Students who come from low income families have to cope with even more struggles. With these study grants, we hope to be able to bear some of these burdens and reduce the strain on these needy students, so that they can focus on their studies and be encouraged.”
different kind of herd pounded the streets of the Central Business District on 21 October 2005. The annual Bull Run, organised by SGX in partnership with Temasek Happy faces all around – SGX CEO Hsieh Fu Hua, Holdings, Central Temasek Holdings executive director Ho Ching, and Jackie Chan with the $2.3 million cheque for charity. Singapore CDC, The Business Times, Channel NewsAsia, Fitness First and Singapore Pools, raised $2.3 million for charity. Some 150 companies and over 2,000 participants were spotted at the event, including action movie star Jackie Chan and Temasek Holdings executive director Ho Ching.
A WISH COME TRUE
ake that 7,710 wishes, to be exact. Generous in-kind donations helped fulfil 7,710 Christmas wishes from needy families and individuals in the Boys’ Brigade Sharity Gift Box 2005 programme. The increase of 2,000 wishes from 2004 was matched by an increase in support from individuals, corporates, businesses and schools who donated mainly electrical appliances, furniture, bicycles and food items, all necessities for low-income families A Boys’ Brigade officer on his Christmas wish delivery round. unable to afford them.
or the first time ever, the Children’s Hospice International (CHI)’s Elisabeth KüblerRoss Award for outstanding contribution to the field of children’s palliative care worldwide was awarded to a programme in Asia. The Assisi Children’s Centre, Singapore won the international award for its complete circle of care with in-patient hospice care, home care and close collaboration with paediatric health care professionals, thereby offering parents a complete range of support and continuity of care during the child’s journey with cancer. Assisi’s Nurse Manager Ronita Paul received the award at CHI’s World Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA on 17 November 2005. Mrs Ann Armstrong-Dailey, Founder & CEO of Children’s Hospice International (left) presenting the award to Ms Ronita Paul, Assisi’s Nurse Manager. Looking on is the Honorable Ronald Palmer, board member of CHI.
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SPH – The Business Times
he next time your stomach rumbles when you are viewing the latest exhibits at the Singapore Science Centre, check out the latest kid on its F&B block, Café Heart. With support by the Science Centre in the form of free premises, this new social enterprise by Food From The Heart (FFTH) is expected to generate a sustainable income for the charity. With local café chain Secret Recipe as the café’s advisor, they’re certainly off to a yummy start!
Never Too Old
Age is no barrier when it comes to being a volunteer. Just ask Teresa Hsu! MICHELLE BONG learns more from the centenarian.
ince 1930 when she started the charity organisation Friends of the Needy for the Homeless, Disabled and Abandoned in Hong Kong, Teresa Hsu has dedicated her life to the needy and destitute. Her work with the less fortunate has taken her to Malaysia, Paraguay, Germany and England – where she has done everything from looking after neglected children to tending to wounded soldiers during World War II. Over 70 years later, her efforts were acknowledged at the National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2005 last November when she was conferred the prestigious Special Recognition Award, an award that recognises exceptional contributions by an individual or group to the nonprofit sector and to society.
“ I share what I have, as a sister ought to.” However, Teresa doesn’t even consider herself a volunteer. She explains: “What I do, I do not call volunteerism. My basic feeling is that all human beings are a big family. There are those who do well – I do not have to think of them. With those who lack basic needs such as clothing, food, dwelling and so on, I share what I have, as a sister ought to.” The retired nurse has lived a full life, by any definition. Following her stints in England, Germany and Paraguay, she assisted her brother in starting the Assunta Foundation for the Poor in Ipoh, Malaysia in 1961, where she also played a key role in the start-up of three homes for the elderly and two homes for young girls and neglected children. In 1963, she found herself in Singapore where she offered her services as an
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unsalaried matron to Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital. She is also the woman behind the Heart to Heart Service to care for the needy and Home for the Aged Sick at Jalan Payoh Lai. What has kept her going on her selfless crusade all these years is a strong, simple belief: if her brothers and sisters are hungry, she shares with them what she has, as a fellow human should. In the same way, Teresa’s satisfaction from her charitable work is derived from the conviction that she is living her life as she feels right. Teresa credits her mother as an inspiration. “She had a very beautiful heart, and I learnt beautiful thoughts from her. Once, during our very poor days, as we were sitting down for our usual scanty meal, there was a knock on our door. A poor mother and her child were crying, asking for food. They said they hadn’t eaten for a few days. My mother gave her all our food. Her heart was full of thoughtfulness,” she recounts. At the age of 107 today, Teresa continues to serve the community with vigour. She helps run Heart to Heart Service with Sharana Rao, serving the
Spreading the joy: Teresa (left) on her rounds.
elderly and poor families in Singapore. With the help of volunteers, they distribute food packets to their charges each month, each portion carefully packed according to the needs of the beneficiary. In addition, they visit the elderly every week to give them their monetary allowance, and to simply befriend and chat with them. An advocate of healthy living (although she confesses to a weakness for Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream), she gives talks at schools, clubs, welfare homes and hospitals in Singapore and overseas about health and service to the needy. Even at her advanced age, she teaches yoga to the young and old at temples, associations, hospitals and schools! Teresa’s indefatigable stamina and selfless spirit has inspired and will no doubt continue to inspire others to step forward to help. Having dedicated herself to serving the needy for the past seven decades, is volunteerism the secret to her longevity? She brushes off this suggestion with a smile. “There is no secret. It’s a duty.” ✩
No Half Measures
For Denise Phua, president of the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) and supervisor of Pathlight School, it’s about giving your all to a cause you believe in, as she tells ADELINE ANG.
he may have left behind an illustrious two-decade long career in the private sector to volunteer full-time in the nonprofit world, but Denise Phua, president of the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) [ARC] and supervisor of Pathlight School, has most certainly not left her corporate skills behind. ARC is one of the key nonprofit organisations dedicated to serving children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Its services include early intervention, training and therapy services. Its Pathlight School provides mainstream academics and life skills for children with ASD. Invited to join ARC’s management committee in 1999, Phua accepted it gladly. Having a special needs child herself, she was all too familiar with the difficulties faced by families in providing good intervention, support and education for their child in Singapore. Says Phua, “I could feel the pain of children left behind in life due to lack of appropriate services. I wanted to do something beyond complaining.”
“ Behind every grand vision or dream are a thousand unglamorous tasks that very few people want to take on.” She also knew that her personal experience would be useful to the work of ARC. “High-level strategies, without a good feel of ground difficulties or mindsets, usually fail during deployment,” she notes. ARC was then suffering from lack of funding and staffing. Not being someone who is good at doing things in half measures, she began to spend a lot of
appeal for funds from potential sponsors for its key programmes and needy clients. She shares, “It is unwise to depend solely on emotional appeals for donations, to pay for salaries of good, competent technical staff.” The solution: quality and scalability. “We deployed strategies to Denise (left) with Minister consolidate our available time at the centre helping out. of Education Tharman Shanmugaratnam at Pathlight technical expertise, and “I knew from working with School’s official opening in November 2004. developed more scalable my corporate clients that most service packages so as to reach out to more initiatives fail, not because of a lack of children. Those who can afford our vision or smart people. Research has shown services will pay moderate industry fees, that more than 70 per cent of failures are giving us needed revenue to survive due to a lack of execution discipline and long term. We then subsidise those who excellence. Behind every grand vision or cannot afford the fees through donations. dream are a thousand unglamorous tasks About 40 per cent of the people we serve that very few people want to take on.” need financial subsidies.” Her involvement grew and expanded To keep the work of ARC and Pathlight until she made the decision to devote effective and efficient, the organisation herself to full-time volunteering with ARC. engages in constant communication with “When my company was sold to a all stakeholders about its strategies and key large global consulting firm, it was very tempting to accept the offer to stay on and indicators. “I analyse all activities for both myself and my team, to ensure that our run a bigger regional outfit. But I knew busyness does contribute directly to the the needs and challenges at ARC were mission of helping the children we serve.” more critical. I took the plunge, after a As Phua’s favourite quote by American lot of prayer. I knew my new company writer Russell Davenport goes: “Progress would always be able to get a CEO, but it would be difficult for ARC to get full-time results only from the fact that there are some men and women who refuse to management help,” she recalls. believe that what they know to be right, And how relevant are her private sector cannot be done.” skills to nonprofit sector work? Phua That belief has certainly served Phua believes they are essential. In the area of very well indeed. ✩ financial viability, she led ARC away from For more information about ARC and the classic problem that nonprofit organiPathlight School, visit www.autism.org.sg., sations face – an over-reliance on donations www.pathlight.org.sg and www.autism-weto support its work. ARC conducts what can.com. Phua calls “communication road-shows” to
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DO STRONG PERSONALITIES NECESSARILY MAKE FOR GOOD LEADERS, ESPECIALLY WHERE NONPROFIT ORGANISATIONS ARE CONCERNED? IN THE WAKE OF THE NKF SAGA, WONG SHER MAINE PONDERS IF IT COULD BE A CASE OF MORE HARM THAN GOOD. 12
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hen Venerable Shi Ming Yi walks along the street in his saffron robes, people sometimes point at him and shout “Ren Ci, Ren Ci!” They would not know or care who he is, for in their eyes, Venerable Shi is the Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre. From founding the centre in 1994, the monk has taken the organisation to dizzying heights – the latest being a television fundraising event in January during which $7.26 million was raised, beating its $5 million target. The clincher that attracted a flood of donation calls: Venerable Shi’s precarious walk on narrow planks suspended from the 66th storey of Republic Plaza. A capable CEO (and a monk at that), and someone who performs dangerous stunts in the name of charity is the stuff of headlines. It’s no wonder then that the man-in-the-street has such a vivid impression of Venerable Shi. Says civil engineer Jason Loh: “His stunts never fail to move me, year after year. When he does them, it seems sincere because he is also the man behind the hospital and he genuinely cares for them. I never knew of Ren Ci before, but if you ask me now to name an organisation which looks after the sick elderly, the first name that pops to mind is Ren Ci.”
AN UNDENIABLE ASSET In the nonprofit sector, where causes rather than bottom lines speak to stakeholders, having a memorable leader with a strong personality is an asset. Ask the general public for memorable personalities in the sector and there are few surprises. Some of their picks: Venerable Shi from Ren Ci; Ivy Singh-Lim, the former president of Netball Singapore; Jack Sim, the founder of the Restroom Association of Singapore and the other WTO (World Toilet Organisation, that is); Deidre Moss, executive officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA); and Dr Ho Hua Chew, a council member of the Nature Society (Singapore). Remarks civil servant Maria Leng, a nature lover who particularly remembers
“IT’S IMPORTANT FOR LEADERS IN THE NONPROFIT WORLD TO HAVE A SENSE OF STEWARDSHIP, TO BUILD UP THE ORGANISATION BEYOND THEMSELVES.”
Willie Cheng, ex-chairman, NVPC
a newspaper spread about Dr Ho and his bird-watching: “I am very interested in reading about conservation and I often agree with what he has to say. I suppose I remember him because I am just very glad someone is giving voice to my concerns!” Indeed, what these personalities have in common is a strong voice. As Ivy Singh-Lim, ex-president of Netball Singapore, puts it: “You cannot be a wimp or a nice guy to be a strong leader.” She would know. When she headed the local netball fraternity from 1992 to 2005, Singh-Lim was well-known for not mincing her words, and her booming personality helped to elevate the sport at all levels in Singapore, from one that was played mostly in schools to the national level. She also managed to attract sponsors to the sport. “I gave the sport an image, as one that is played by clever, intelligent women – people with brains,” she says. It may be even more important for a nonprofit organisation (NPO) to have a strong personality at the helm, as compared to a private company. Says Darrell Chan, president of PromiseWorks, a NPO which assigns working professionals to mentor
Standing up for animal rights: Deidre Moss of SPCA.
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Nature boy: it’s Dr Ho Hua Chew of the Nature Society.
“A STRONG PERSONALITY AND LEADER IS... SOMEONE WITH VISION AND COURAGE AND WHO LISTENS TO WHAT THE REST OF THE ORGANISATION HAS TO SAY. IT’S NOT ABOUT HAVING IT YOUR WAY.”
Darrell Chan, president, PromiseWorks
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school students, “NPOs really need bold leadership so as to motivate stakeholders, volunteers and those around him or her to believe in a cause. There are no financial or other gains to be had. You need a strong leader to get people to believe in a cause, especially since NPOs have so little resources.” Willie Cheng, ex-chairman of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), adds, “In today’s times, people tend to look up to leaders, whether it be in the corporate world or the government or amongst NPOs. It’s important for leaders in the nonprofit world to have a sense of stewardship, to build up the organisation beyond themselves.” Then there are those like Jack Sim who are well known because they, in Chan’s words, “take the road less travelled”. When Sim started his toilet crusade in 1998, the dapper little man who went round talking seriously about high-quality toilets and toilet anthems was mostly laughed at or scorned. Says teacher P L Leng, “I remembered this guy posing with a toilet seat cover in the national newspapers and I thought he was crazy! But when they started grading toilets (the Happy Toilet programme assigns three, four or five stars to toilets), I felt thankful that someone was finally doing something about the horrible state of our public toilets.” Sim was awarded the Singapore Green Plan 2012 by the National Environment Agency last year, proof that he is being taken seriously. He is also well known internationally as the organiser of several international toilet summits. Comments Lee Poh Wah, who is a director of WTO, “Jack is a toilet technocrat, diplomat and acrobat all rolled into one. He is synonymous with toilets. If you ask me if I could do what he did, I’d say no. Not even with 10 times the amount of money! Nobody wanted to take up the (toilet) gauntlet but he had the balls to do it.”
On his ‘throne’: WTO’s Jack Sim.
Sim’s current goal? “I want to make Singapore the sanitation hub of the world,” he declares. Then there are also personalities who straddle causes rather than organisations. Ex-Nominated Member of Parliament Braema Mathi, for instance, has been known to speak up for the underprivileged, from helping to start The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund when she was a journalist, to speaking up for women as the president of women’s organisation AWARE, to advocating improved working conditions for foreign maids as the main driving force behind Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2). However, a strong personality does not necessarily belong to someone who is heard the most or the person the manin-the-street will name. Notes Tisa Ng, president of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO), “I would hate to link a strong personality with someone who is vocal. A quiet person can be just as strong. They are strong because they know what they stand for.” Take, for example, the case of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). Its ex-CEO TT Durai kept a low profile and was not often quoted in the media, but as has been revealed, wielded absolute control in NKF. Observes Chan, “A strong personality and leader is not necessarily someone
says, goes. This is no good in the long run. They may be tempted if there are no checks and balances for it is human nature to go astray.” “The organisation must have the means to carry on and succeed. It cannot be dependant solely on this person. Particularly so because NPOs are about the causes and the community,” warns NVPC’s ex-chairman Cheng.
THE POWER OF ONE The problem is when strong leaders are regarded as being indispensable, either by themselves or by those they are leading. Finding successors can be an issue. SinghLim, for instance, had wanted to step down as Netball Singapore’s president before 2005, but could not do so until a replacement was found in Tan Wee Khim, formerly the organisation’s treasurer. For Sim, he took some time before he recently managed to find (and persuade) Tan Puay Hoon to take over the reins as president of Restroom Association so he can concentrate on “creating and dreaming” up ideas. More serious is when leaders become bigger than the organisation, and insist on having their way simply because they can. Although none of those interviewed were willing to name organisations that are at the mercy of their leaders, an obvious case in point is the NKF. In Singh-Lim’s opinion, “There are time bombs waiting to explode everywhere.” Says an anonymous source from a NPO, “There are instances of organisations where certain people, whatever they
A CASE OF OVER-INTOXICATION
SPH – Shinmin Daily News
Photography by Skye Tan. Picture courtesy of NewMan.
who speaks out. It is someone with vision and courage and who listens to what the rest of the organisation has to say. It’s not about having it your way.”
Balancing act: Venerable Shi Ming Yi doing his 66th storey stunt.
In the nonprofit sector, where noble causes rule the day, there is a danger when the big picture justifies letting small things slide. Says SCWO’s Ng, “Expediency is dangerous, to think that the end justifies the means. So to achieve this great wonderful humanitarian goal, it’s okay to cut a few corners? That’s when the moral compass can twitch a bit.” “My worry is that in Singapore, we are such pragmatic people,” she adds. Singh-Lim takes it a step further. “For people leading charity organisations, they need to pay for themselves. If they don’t come from a power base, the temptation is there to dip their fingers into the pot.” For the record, while she was president of Netball Singapore, she says she paid for her own first-class tickets and entertainment charges. Similarly, WTO’s Sim, who does not draw a salary, can afford to devote himself to toilet causes because of the flow of income from his businesses. Singh-Lim pooh-poohs the idea that there are people – who are not rich to start off with – who will lead an organisation honestly for little or nothing. She blasts: “How many people can live on altruism, love and fresh air? Altruism is only good when you don’t need money to survive.” To keep human nature in check, she insists that checks and balances must be in place and more importantly, properly enforced. Ren Ci’s Venerable Shi, who said in a recent news report that he has stopped drawing an allowance from the hospital because he regards himself as a volunteer, stresses that the hospital’s systems and processes are all in place.
“HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN LIVE ON ALTRUISM, LOVE AND FRESH AIR? ALTRUISM IS ONLY GOOD WHEN YOU DON’T NEED MONEY TO SURVIVE.”
Ivy Singh-Lim, ex-president, Netball Singapore (below)
Jan-Feb 2006 S A LT •
Tisa Ng, president, SCWO
What makes it worse, in Singh-Lim’s opinion, is when those who can speak up against overly domineering leaders and shady practices choose to remain silent. “The reality is that our culture does not encourage people to speak the truth. That is the biggest problem. If you have people to speak when necessary, that is okay.” It can also be hard for leaders, especially those who founded the organisation, to relinquish their power. Comments Sim, who has passed on all the operational and administrative duties to other staff but intends to stay on in a consultative capacity, “It is hard for the person who started the organisation to let go because the emotional attachment is so strong. And because power is always intoxicating, you must always check yourself. Don’t become egoistic, and don’t become tempted by money or power.”
WANTED: RULE OF LAW But what happens when the checks and balances that can prevent one person from turning an organisation upside down are not sufficient? Remarks PromiseWork’s Chan, who is also a trained lawyer, “Amongst NPOs, some safeguards are not built in and it may be wise for us to look at the issue of regulation.” SCWO’s Ng feels the same way. “An organisation should not be run like it’s one person’s personal domain. You need structure, systems and processes. Our Government has very strong personalities, but it’s not a dictatorship because these things are in place. No individual should be above the rule of law.” Currently, some organisations have internal checks and balances which are more rigorous than others. At Ren Ci for instance, apart from ISO certification, Venerable Shi feels that the system and processes that have been put in place since he founded the organisation in 1994 are good enough to keep the hospital going even without him. Champion of causes: Braema Mathi.
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“One day, I will definitely be out of the scene. Does that mean that Ren Ci will collapse? No. People may miss me, but they will continue to have confidence in the organisation,” he says. The SCWO has also tightened up its constitution such that the terms of office are very specific. But even that may not be enough. After all, the NKF, before its legal battle with Singapore Press Holdings, was believed to be transparent as it had successfully sued others and had even been audited with no problems. “There are always situations where the letter of the law will not prescribe. There are likely to be opportunities where you just go through the process but not the spirit of the law. Therefore this idea of principle, or moral compass, is so important. Part of that moral compass is always to ask ‘What am I doing this for?’ Saying ‘Why not?’ or ‘Because I can’ is not acceptable,” notes Ng.
EXCEPTIONAL... AND ETHICAL For sure, action is being taken. Following the NKF saga, an inter-ministerial committee was formed to look at strengthening the Charities Act and the Income Tax Act to better regulate charities. It will look at empowering the Commissioner of Charities, who is also the Comptroller of Income Tax, so that he can better audit and regulate the way charities are run. On the ground, the Lien Foundation is pumping $1 million to fund the Lien Foundation Scholarship, to be administered by the National Council of Social Service, to groom social service leaders. Eligible recipients could be those already in the sector, or those who are coming in from the private sector. Says WTO’s Lee, who is also the programme director at the Lien Foundation, “Currently, in the social service sector, some organisations have outstanding leaders and some do not. It’s more an issue of weakness in leadership at the management and board level. Our objective is to foster a cadre of exceptional and ethical leaders.” And that, perhaps, is when having strong personalities in the sector really rocks. ✩
Illustrations by Quek Hong Shin.
“ALWAYS ASK ‘WHAT AM I DOING THIS FOR?’ SAYING ‘WHY NOT?’ OR ‘BECAUSE I CAN’ IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.”
All in the Line of Duty Our men in blue prove that they do much more for the community beyond maintaining law and order on our island. MICHELLE BONG finds out.
or its efforts towards putting a human face to its charitable projects within the community, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) received a Honourable Mention in the Corporate Citizen category at the recent National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2005. It is no surprise given that Singapore Police Force has embarked on its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) journey since the 1980s. Director of Special Duties and Public Affairs, Senior Assistant Commissioner Tan Puay Kern, is the driving force behind the SPF’s CSR efforts. SAC Tan is chairman of the Singapore Police Force Committee on Societal Responsibility, a body that consolidates and coordinates social responsibility activities within the organisation. SPF also has its own CSR Framework whereby all its police divisions and departments are required to participate in a minimum of two volunteer activities in each financial year to help the less fortunate. Volunteer work is taken seriously within the organisation and all its officers
“ The SPF Volunteer Centre will be a platform for the provision of training and development of officers to become even better volunteers.” and staff can claim up to three days of unrecorded leave or time off for participating in volunteer activities, subject to exigencies of service. SAC Tan also serves on the Community Chest Committee, and has used his
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virtual SPF Volunteer Centre is a platform for the provision of training and development of officers to become even better volunteers. “This website is a prelude to the ‘brick and mortar’ version which we hope to set up in the coming year. We are hoping that more SPF volunteers helped out at officer volunteers will expertise on strategic planning the Singapore School for the Deaf’s recent sports day. participate and sign up in SPF to aid ComChest’s annual with the Volunteer Centre with up to date fundraising efforts. The relationship between the two began in 1985 when SPF information available over our intranet.” To this end, a series of accompanying became one of the pioneer members of its workshops, road shows and other activities SHARE programme. Some $330,000 is to spread the word have been held or raised each year by SPF through SHARE for the ComChest, and ComChest and SPF are in the pipeline. The Centre will be manned fully by officer volunteers with volunteers work together annually in a the running costs being borne by SPF. joint committee to design all aspects of the It certainly looks like these efforts to ComChest’s campaign, from fundraising encourage staff volunteerism participation to fund distribution. The relationship have paid off handsomely. Out of its between SPF and ComChest remains 10,000-strong staff, 95 per cent are now strong till today, with both parties being currently participating in the ComChest jointly awarded the United Way InternaSHARE programme. For volunteer tional’s (UWI) Best Strategic Partnership activities such as the Hearts in Award at the UWI World Assembly on 7 Harmony music marathon in 2004 and May 2004 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. the Charity Adventure 2004, over 250 The SPF Volunteer Centre has also officers were involved – excluding many launched its latest initiative for its volunmore who helped out behind-the-scenes teers by having its own website to help by selling items or tickets, canvassing for track the growing number of volunteers donations via pledge cards or donation and to cultivate a further sense of ownertins, or approaching corporate sponsors. ship among its volunteers. Adds SAC Tan, “Over the last six Comments SAC Tan, “We had set up years, we have raised nearly $6 million a SPF intranet website in February last year as a tool to create more awareness of for charity. We certainly hope that with the SPF Volunteer Centre’s set up, it will societal responsibility and volunteerism. help to promote more active volunteerism Regular broadcast messages are sent and philanthropy in SPF and subsequently out to promote participation in various to the community at large.” ✩ volunteer activities organised. This
Stand Up and Be Counted Standing up for the rights of a group neglected by mainstream society is what makes Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) tick, as ADELINE ANG finds out.
n late 2002, over a cup of coffee, a group of women were discussing a newspaper article in The Straits Times in which a man said that he had heard the screams of a domestic worker who was being abused in his neighbour’s home, but he did nothing about it because it was “not my business”. Arising from that conversation was a conviction that something needed to be done to raise the level of awareness and sensitivity among Singaporeans of the problems which domestic workers face while working in Singapore. With this objective in mind, they formed civil society action group The Working Committee 2 and conducted a nine-month long campaign of research, public education and advocacy. At the end of the nine months, the group decided they had a responsibility to take the issue further. And so Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) was born. TWC2 aims to promote respect for transient workers through education and to secure better treatment for them through legislation and other means. Their current focus is on domestic workers, but they are planning to extend
“ It is better to try and work out a law so that people know when they are stepping off the mark.” their support to construction workers and other transient workers in Singapore. To this end, it has drafted a proposed Foreign Domestic Worker Act, which has been submitted to the Ministry of Manpower for consideration. Explains Braema Mathi, president
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outreach to domestic workers. Says Mathi, “We appeal to the expatriate community in Singapore, employment pass holders, spouses who can volunteer their time, and who can speak Tagalog, Thai, Bangladeshi, Tamil, Vietnamese, Burmese, Nepalese and all the Chinese dialects!” There is no need for volunteers to have expertise, as TWC2 will conduct training for all volunteers. Plans are also in the pipeline for TWC2 to organise training classes for domestic workers, in subjects such as English and Mathematics. For its groundbreaking work, TWC2 was given the New Nonprofit Initiative Award at the recent National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2005. TWC2 produced a series of thoughtEnthuses Mathi, “We were of TWC2, “The provoking postcards (above) to raise awareness of domestic pleasantly surprised and honoured advantage of workers’ plight in Singapore. to receive the Award. It is an bringing this under endorsement that our work is important the law is to give a very clear guideline to to Singapore society.” the employer and employee as to what Equally (if not more) appreciated is is their role. A law will send a very clear the New Initiative Grant TWC2 received signal, especially on issues of wage from the National Volunteer & Philandisputes. Mediation is good, but it is thropy Centre (NVPC). better to try and work out a law so that “Without the grant, we would be people know when they are stepping struggling in 2006. NVPC may not know off the mark.” how valuable its own grant is! At the ground TWC2’s activities range all the way from the policy level to hands-on assistance level, this grant has already enabled us to set up our own office – we’ve been able for foreign workers, including intervention to pay someone to be our staff, and in cases of abuse. In serious situations, because of that, we are able to coordinate they will alert the police or the Ministry better to roll out our programmes. I can’t of Manpower. It also conducts empowersay enough how important this is, for ment workshops, encouraging domestic struggling groups who use up very valuable workers to form social network clubs as volunteer time to do everything.” ✩ a way of giving support to each other, For more information or to volunteer and hopes to start a telephone help line with TWC2, visit www.twc2.org.sg. by the end of March 2006, as a form of
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SALTS HAK ERS & M OVERS
A Different Sort of Man CEO of NTUC Income Tan Kin Lian isn’t afraid of being different. In fact, he seems to thrive on it, as SUZANNE LIM discovers.
f there’s one thing Tan Kin Lian, CEO of NTUC Income, cannot be accused of, it’s tardiness. Approached for this interview when travelling commitments sidelined the original candidate for this issue at the last minute (Tan had originally been scheduled for the March-April 2006 issue), he readily obliged within a few hours of my email being sent to him. While cynics may see that as the reaction of a publicity hound, Tan is quick to point out that he is prompt in all his dealings – in fact, it’s become his hallmark! The energetic 57-year-old was appointed as general manager of Income in 1977, a position later re-designated as chief executive officer. Under his watch, Income has grown to become Singapore’s leading life and general insurer, with over two million policyholders and assets totalling $16 billion. When it comes to charity, Tan has also ensured Income does its share for society’s less privileged, due largely in part to his humble background. Each year, the cooperative contributes over $2 million to worthy causes that span the gamut from the arts, community, sports, education, health to the environment. For Tan, it’s all about working for the interest of the wider community and not just the company’s bottom line. How has your background influenced your and Income’s views about charity? I came from a poor family. When I was in school, my family lived in a rented home and we had to move house every few years. I had to leave school after my O Levels in 1965 and started work as a clerk in an insurance company. I self-studied at the
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same time to qualify as an actuary and did so in 1975. Even after I was appointed as the head of NTUC Income, I continued to live in a HDB flat for many years. I can definitely relate to the less privileged. You’ve been the CEO of Income for the past 27 years. What’s the secret of your and Income’s success? The secret behind Income’s success is that it is a cooperative society that is dedicated to looking after the best interests of its
“ I travel on economy class airfare while on business. I kept my company car until it was nine years old! ” policyholders. We do not aim to make a lot of profits for our shareholders. We only pay a modest rate of dividend, currently at six per cent. As the share capital is relatively small, the actual payment of dividend is negligible. This allows us to keep premiums at a low level. I set a personal example to reduce expenses and to spend money wisely and frugally. We will spend what is necessary and useful. We avoid being wasteful and lavish. We act responsibly. I travel on economy class airfare while on business. I kept my company car until it was nine years old! Income contributes over $2 million each year to charity. Certainly the situation would be different if it were a publicly listed company with shareholders to answer to?
A listed company has to face a conflict of interest – how to balance the interests of the shareholders and the other stakeholders. Most boards of listed companies focus on the interests of the shareholders. This means less for charity and the community. I believe that if Income is a listed company, we will probably behave in the same way. My strong preference is for Income to remain a cooperative society, so that it will be able to benefit its policyholders directly, and to benefit the wider community by being more generous in our sponsorship. We want to set an example with this philosophy. It is better to work for the interest of the wider community than for a narrow profit motive. Income recently launched the website KnowYourInsurance. com.sg. Community service or another selling tactic? Unfortunately, many people do view insurance companies with some degree of suspicion. The past behaviour of insurance companies and agents has led to this belief. In recent years, many insurance companies and agents have tried to project a better image by increasing the professionalism of the agents but it is not easy to change practice and perception overnight. Income stands out in a better light. Our focus has
Specialists in Philanthropy Management STRUCTURING • FINANCING • TRUST AND CORPORATE SERVICES • INVESTMENTS • INSURANCE • REAL ESTATE
always been on what is good for our policyholders and the wider community. We will only introduce products that are genuinely for the good of our policyholders. We did a survey and many respondents said they’re not clear about the coverage provided by common insurance products. This reflects a failing on the part of the companies and agents. That’s why we decided to launch this interactive educational website. The response has been overwhelming – we receive over 1,000 hits a day. We do have a business goal as well, but it is secondary. We believe that an educated consumer will choose to place their trust
in Income, to enjoy our suitable products that give good value at a fair premium. You’re known for speaking your mind on a broad range of issues. Do you see yourself as a social commentator of sorts? I will speak my mind and express my views on what I think are the right values for society. I speak from a practical angle and from experience. What is right is determined not by who said it, but by the actual results that are produced. If the results are fair, benefit people in general, and are accepted by the common people to be the right thing to do, then the results are right. What’s your take on the changes that are sweeping the charity sector at the moment? Most of our charities and nonprofit organisations are run properly. They have to raise the money the hard way and they are careful in spending the money. A small number have raised more money than is needed. This is not correct. We should only raise what is needed and leave some of the money for other charities. There is no need to compete in fundraising. We must understand more clearly the purpose of what we do, and we must keep to the purpose. In your commentary for SALT in our March-April 2004 issue, you championed applying entrepreneurial principles to the nonprofit sector in the name of greater efficiency. In the wake of the NKF saga, do you still feel the same way? Every organisation, including a nonprofit, needs to have an entrepreneurial mindset. This is an approach and an attitude of mind. The entrepreneurial approach allows us to constantly find better ways to achieve our goals and meet the needs of our customers. The problem with NKF reflects a different issue, and that is the judgement of what is right. It is a value judgement.
Some people feel that they can only contribute to charity after they have “arrived” or retired. What’s your view? We can contribute to charity by spending a few hours a week and this can be done before we “arrive”. We only need to identify a useful purpose and enjoy doing it. One can contribute time or money, but the purpose must be the correct one. I spend 120 per cent of my time on Income work and another 20 per cent on my public, volunteer, and business-related committees, such as serving as co-chairman of the Singapore Dance Theatre and as a counsellor of the South West Community Development Committee, where I’m also chairman of its social service committee. I also co-founded Spirit of Enterprise, a nonprofit organisation that aims to encourage entrepreneurship in Singapore. How do I get 140 per cent of my time? I work more than eight hours a day and also on the weekends. I don’t have time to play golf, but I exercise regularly on my exercise bicycle and jog six laps around the stadium every weekend. I will retire when I’m 62. After that, I intend to become a teacher, to give lectures and encourage young people to have a passion in life! I also plan to be a business consultant, but my fees will be modest. My aim is to help businesses and organisations become more efficient and more entrepreneurial, to know its right values and to achieve them. You’re very prompt in your responses. Ever wish you deliberated a bit more before responding? My prompt responses have been well appreciated by customers, journalists and the general public. Occasionally, I make some mistakes, but it is never serious – I just correct them. Too many Singaporeans are too cautious, too scared to do anything, take too much time to be sure and to be correct. I behave differently. ✩
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Joy in Our Differences MAGDALENE KOH shares how her experiences at L’Arche Geneserat in Canberra, Australia, show that rejoicing in our differences can open our hearts to even greater joy.
Salt and pepper shakers from a private collection.
any, if not all health, social services, charitable and voluntary organisations start out with a good idea. The good idea behind them is often to rescue unhappy and defenceless people from what seems like a chaotic and cruel society. Their own microscopic society would, by eliminating the discriminations of the larger one outside, “reform” the delinquent, “cure” the insane, and “industrialise” the poor. They would also serve as a “model” to emulate and so act as a force for social reform. Yet, almost every such venture runs the risk of ending up plodding through its daily grind and thereby experiencing a custodial weariness that limits and dehumanises, bringing anything but life to those trapped in it, be they carers or the cared-for. This scenario is no different, whether in Australia or Singapore, or even in the remotest village of Calcutta or Vanuatu. Similarly, L’Arche is subject to the same struggles to keep resolute to its founding principles. Yet today, L’Arche is 32 years old! Since 1974, more than 100 L’Arche communities have grown in over 30 countries, including L’Arche Genesaret in Canberra, which was the first to be founded before giving rise to communities in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Hobart. There are L’Arche communities, big and small, in rich and poor countries alike – Canada, Japan, Africa, Haiti, Latin America, Philippines, and India to name just a few. One cannot help but ask: “What makes an organisational model like L’Arche work?” It continues to evolve and grow amidst a challenging history of successes and failures, in different cultures, languages and religions, in poverty and
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plenty. Every L’Arche community has encountered men and women who are mentally and emotionally handicapped, chaotic and broken, and has witnessed their gradual transformation into people of peace, hopefulness and value. From its beginnings, two notions about L’Arche were clear. One was the aspect of living with people with mental handicaps, as opposed to the doing for attitude found in a group home environment. Living with implies entering into relationships and the humdrum rhythm of every day life – preparing meals, working and relaxing, and celebrating life’s events together.
“ L’Arche rejoices in the presence of those who are considered of little social value and for whom the climb up the ladder of hierarchical success is impossible.” L’Arche communities typically provide family-style homes and lifestyles, where Core Members – people with intellectual disabilities – share their lives with Assistants who choose to live or support them in an atmosphere of friendship, belonging and growth. Together, both learn to discover and accept each other’s gifts and differences. Walking towards the same goal in a spirit of cooperation and respect permits the intellectually handicapped person to begin to live and heal from his former rejection by society. The effect of such “therapy” results not only in the handicapped person assuming more respon-
sibility and decision making in his life, but also attaining self-confidence in his capacity to please, to serve and to be useful. The second notion of L’Arche is the embrace of a counter-cultural spirit and attitude. L’Arche has a specific “spirituality” that is rooted in the belief and vision that the mentally disabled open a new world of the heart – of true wisdom and of freedom and liberation. Not governed by social conventions, they radiate and greet visitors with genuine joy. They make no distinction between those considered important in the eyes of the world and those who are not. They are not interested in anyone’s profession or rank, but are perceptive of their hearts and authenticity. L’Arche rejoices in the presence of those who are considered of little social value and for whom the climb up the ladder of hierarchical success is impossible. I remember my encounter with Kerry, a L’Arche resident with mild cerebral palsy. Her grubby appearance and clumsy gestures were a sharp contrast to her smiling eyes and cheerful welcome. “I’ve got this pain here and it won’t come out”, Kerry said to me, pointing to her chest. “Are you feeling sad, Kerry?” I asked. “Yay, me old mate from Goulburn just died,” she answered. “Do you know this pain, Maggie?” “Sure do, Kerry,” I replied. “Then we’re the same,” Kerry nodded, with a look of sympathy at me. Yes, indeed, we are all the same. ✩ Formerly with NVPC, Magdalene Koh migrated to Canberra, Australia in April 2005. She now works in all three community houses in L’Arche Genesaret in Canberra.
Who Governs a Nonprofit, Really? WILLIE CHENG kicks off his new SALT column on business and nonprofit paradigms
“ Quotey quotes.” with a current hot topic – governance in the charity sector in Singapore.
efinitions of corporate governance abound. Literature on the subject converges on the inter-relationships among three key groups of players: the owners, the board of directors and the management of an organisation. In theory, management runs the organisation. The board appoints and governs management. The board’s authority emanates from the owners who appoint the board. In other words, two levels of checks and balances exist in the establishment of an organisation to ensure that it functions as intended. Unfortunately, the healthy separation of and the appropriate linkages among these three players is often lacking in the nonprofit world. Corporate Governance To start off, the line between management and governance is often blurred in nonprofit organisations. A number of factors account for this. Nonprofits, especially charities, have thus far been seen to be about merely “doing good”, so the charity’s work takes precedence and corporate governance takes a back seat. Nonprofit executives are usually not paid as well as their commercial counterparts, and they sometimes don’t possess management skills which are as finely honed. Volunteer board members on the other hand, may well be very experienced and successful executives who just happen to feel very passionately for the cause – so they just jump in to help get the good work done.
Given the way in which nonprofit organisations are commonly started – by passionate people with a cause – the chairman is sometimes the founder and either de facto or de jure the CEO of the organisation. Any paid management staff could be functioning essentially as administrators for the chairman. But surely the way a charity is legally constituted would provide for a healthy governance structure? In Singapore, a charity is usually constituted either as a society (under the Societies Act) or as a
“ Power corrupts, invariably and eventually... Rules that institutionalise tenure and rotation can help deal with the issue without loss of face.” company limited by guarantee (under the Companies Act). About 57 per cent of charities here are societies while 16 per cent are companies. The rest are either set up by specific statutes or constituted as trusts. Traditionally, charities were constituted as societies, but increasingly, newly registered charities have taken the company route. From a founder’s standpoint, incorporation as a company is easier for control and administration. No elections are needed. Members (owners who are essentially shareholders without shares) of the company – which can be as few as
two individuals – appoint the board. In fact, often the members (the legal owners) and the board are the same individuals, removing yet another intended level of check and balance in the organisation. In recent years, some charities previously incorporated as societies have reconstituted themselves as companies. The rationale as explained to me by one charity is that “it makes it easier to get things done”. Of course, part of that ease comes from the fact that key decisions need not be counter-checked. However, constituting as a society may not necessarily result in a better governance structure, given the Singaporean apathy towards elections. We are used to selection rather than election. In fact, many an election for a society’s office bearers goes uncontested. It is even a challenge for some societies to get sufficient members to attend and form a quorum at the annual general meeting (AGM). That’s not a real problem either. The lawyers have ensured that the constitution of the society incorporates a clause to the effect that if there is no quorum present at the specified time, then the meeting is adjourned for half an hour and “the members then present shall be a quorum”. In effect, the AGM simply starts a half hour later, and organisers, indeed, often plan for it. One of the tenets of good corporate governance is the renewal of board members and management. Power corrupts, invariably and eventually. Before it does, complacency would likely have set in.
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Power is also intoxicating. It would be rare for an incumbent, enlightened as he or she may be, to voluntarily remove himself or herself. For that reason, rules that institutionalise tenure and rotation can help deal with the issue without loss of face. However, few nonprofits incorporate such provisions into their constitutions or their codes of corporate governance, if there is one. Some that do so after incorporation seem to do so after due reflection upon the departure of a longstaying incumbent. Moral Owners Notwithstanding the safeguards built into an institution’s constitution or its code of corporate governance, we should be uncomfortable with the notion that “respecting the interests of the owners is paramount” – which is how corporate governance is defined by one author. The legal owners of a charity usually come down to a select few individuals or organisations. Inevitably, some owners
“ Beyond legal ownership, there needs to be the concept of moral ownership.” and their appointees will have narrower interests that would not sit well with our view of what a charity should be doing. A commercial organisation has a simple objective – maximising profits for its owners, and it very fairly does so using the owners’ capital. The objective of non-charity nonprofits such as business associations and clubs are also to look after the (narrow) interests of its members. A charity on the other hand, seeks to achieve societal change and improvements, and draws its resources from the community – through volunteers who give of their time and donors who give of their money. For that reason, beyond legal ownership, there needs to be the concept of moral ownership. Since charities exist for the broader purpose of doing public good, the management and boards of charities
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• Charities Act • Income Tax Act
• House to House Collection Act • Other Permits
UMBRELLA BODIES NCSS, NAC, etc.
CHARITY GOVERNANCE LANDSCAPE Community Image Informed Giving
PUBLIC OPINION need to be accountable not just to its legal owners, but to its moral owners – the public from which it gets its funds and the community it purports to serve. A key means by which this concept of moral ownership is achieved is through external rules and regulations. In a sense, regulation is the next level of governance for charities. The Regulatory Framework For a charity in Singapore, the regulatory framework can be confusing. There are four sets of regulations that need to be observed: those regulating how they are constituted; those governing tax benefits; the relevant umbrella body
guidelines; and activity-based requirements. Charities have to be constituted as legal organisations in the first place. They can do so under the Companies Act, the Societies Act, the Trustees Act, or a specific statute. However, as we observed earlier, these Acts are generally agnostic as to whether an organisation is a charity or not. They generally have little or no additional provisions requiring an organisation to operate for public benefit. Most charity safeguards are found in the tax-benefit regulations – the Charities Act and the Income Tax Act. Once constituted, a nonprofit may apply to be a charity under the Charities Act. There are two main reasons for
being a registered charity. First, the public image of being a charity helps an organisation reach out to the community for volunteers, donations, and other support. Secondly, there is tax exemption for the organisation’s net surplus (some conditions have to be met). When an organisation wishes to provide its donors with tax exemptions for their contributions, it must apply for
“ Where the court of law falters, the court of public opinion often steps in.” Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status under the Income Tax Act. There are more than 1,700 charities and more than 800 IPCs in Singapore. The two tax statutes are technically independent. However, most IPCs are also registered as charities. Oversight of charities is afforded by the Commissioner of Charities, while IPCs come under the Commissioner of Income Tax. Both hats happen to be currently worn by the same person. The rules that charities and IPCs have to follow were drawn up a long time ago. It reflects the spirit that charity is about “doing good”. They are primarily administrative and do not demand a great deal in terms of conduct and public disclosure. They certainly do not provide for today’s climate of concerns on corporate governance. The guidelines that IPCs have to follow are called Minimum Operating Rules – the operative word probably being “minimum”. Thirdly, there are umbrella body guidelines. In Singapore, charities are somewhat organised by vertical sectors (health, arts, education, sports etc) under various umbrella bodies. These umbrella bodies are usually a Ministry (eg. Ministry of Health for the health sector) or a statutory body/agency (eg National Council of Social Service for the social welfare sector). IRAS has appointed these umbrella bodies as Central Fund Administrators (CFAs) to ensure that the IPCs in their
respective sectors comply with the Minimum Operating Rules. The umbrella bodies also establish their own set of rules and codes of corporate governance. However, most of these rules to date have been in the form of best practices and are not mandatory. A final set of regulations that charities (and non-charities) may have to observe are those pertaining to certain activities, especially fund-raising. For these activities, they will have to apply for licenses and comply with the related regulations. One key permit required by law is that under the House to House and Street Collections Act. This law, however, requires permits only for face-to-face channels (such as flag days, door to door solicitations etc). It does not cover modern forms of communication such as telephone, postal and email solicitations. Thus, when the Independent Society of the Blind (which was not a registered charity) sent out mailers to solicit funds through Singapore Power two years ago, it did not run afoul of the law. Enforcement of the existing rules is variable. Several of the 13 CFAs do not have full time staff focused on IPCs. In general, enforcement is already difficult because, apart from some minor fines and penalties, the main and about the only stick the regulator wields is the withdrawal of charity or IPC status. For the constitutional agencies, unless there is known criminal conduct or breach of the somewhat liberal rules meant more for private rather than public benefit organisations, the authorities have little recourse. Unless a board of directors willingly or agrees to step down, there is little that the authorities can legally do to effect any change to the organisation’s governance structure. For example, in the case of the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) last year, in disagreeing with the actions of the new board, the authorities had to resort to creating a parallel service for the blind with the Society of Moral Charities. In 1987, the Government had grave concerns about the Singapore Turf Club
(STC) – then a members club constituted under the Societies Act – and how it was being run and what it could be doing with the large reserves accumulated from horse racing. The Government resorted to enacting a new law to transfer STC assets worth several hundreds of millions of dollars to a new body called the Singapore Totalisator Board (STB). STB then set up a proprietary club, the Bukit Turf Club (BTC), to run the horse racing operations. Several years later, after the old STC was deregistered, BTC changed its name to STC. Historically speaking, the law has tended to play catch-up with social and technological developments. What then is the fallback to external regulations for the oversight of corporate governance in charities? Public Opinion Where the court of law falters, the court of public opinion often steps in. Public opinion of the explosive kind greeted the National Kidney Foundation’s court revelations. It’s unhealthy when it gets to that stage. Rather, public opinion should be manifesting itself in continual public interest in what charities are doing, and in the public’s individual choices of which charities they support. It is this concept of informed giving that the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre has been promoting. Only when donors, volunteers and the community are discerning, demanding and discriminating of the money, time and support they give to individual charities will there be a greater interest by charities of their own corporate governance. Therefore, public opinion is akin to another level of governance that ranks with rules and regulations to keep charities focused on their mission. We are moving in that direction. In the last few months, it would seem that public opinion is driving a wave of change which will move charity governance in Singapore from an era of “just doing good” to “doing good, well”. ✩ The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
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From the heart: Alemay Fernandez’s rendition of (Somewhere) Over The Rainbow.
From left: Rear-Adm (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin, chairman, NVPC; Mrs YuFoo Yee Shoon, Minister of State, MCYS; and Mrs Tan Chee Koon, CEO, NVPC.
From left: Maretta Emery, head of philanthropy services (Asia), MeesPierson; Christine and Henry Laimer, founders, Food from the Heart; and Peony Ferguson, chairperson, Ian Ferguson Foundation.
Supporters of TWC2 pose with their shiny new “baby”.
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Good food, fine wine, great company and truly inspirational success stories – it was certainly a night to remember for the guests at the National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2005 gala dinner.
he invitation called for ‘celebratory chic’, and some of the 300 invited guests at the National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2005 certainly lived up to the occasion as they arrived in their various interpretations of the dress code on the evening of 24 November 2005. The chandeliers sparkled and the ladies glittered as the evening brought together guests and friends from all sectors of the community of volunteers, donors and nonprofits for a night of celebration. Honouring individuals and organisations that have set excellence benchmarks in encouraging the spirit of giving in Singapore, the Awards were presented at a gala dinner at the Oriental Hotel by guest-of-honour Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Law Professor S Jayakumar. In his welcome address, Rear-Admiral (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin, chairman of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), acknowledged that while it has been a challenging year for the charity sector, the high standards of the nominees in the five categories could not be denied. In fact, the judging panels for two of the categories – New Nonprofit Initiative and Corporate Citizen – were moved to award not just the winner’s accolade, but also a honourable mention. Certainly, there was nary a dry eye in the ballroom when the touching Special Recognition Award winner’s video was screened. Immediately after the screening, the ballroom erupted into rapturous applause and a standing ovation was the order of the day when 107-year-old Teresa Hsu went on stage to receive her well-deserved award for her lifetime of unstinting volunteer work. The evening also saw volunteer performances by JazzKids from Kids Performing who got the evening off to a rousing start with their medley of jazz standards; pianist Clare Yeo, HSBC’s Youth Excellence Award 2004 winner, who mesmerised the room with her virtuoso performance; and Alemay Fernandez who, accompanied on the piano by NMP and NVPC Youth Volunteerism Ambassador Eunice Olsen, closed the evening with her uplifting rendition of (Somewhere) Over The Rainbow. Indeed, it was an evening that inspired all who were present to reach out and continue to strive for excellence in this work that we do.
Best foot forward: JazzKids during their opening number.
Reason to smile: Staff volunteers from Corporate Citizen Award winner HSBC.
We’ll have what they’re having: Elim Chew, managing director, 77th Street (left); and Darrell Chan, president, PromiseWorks.
Portrait of concentration: piano prodigy Clare Yeo.
Prof Jayakumar (right) lends Teresa Hsu (centre) a helping hand onto the stage to receive her award.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
THE WINNERS GALLERY NONPROFIT ORGANISATION AWARD
Yayasan MENDAKI NEW NONPROFIT INITIATIVE AWARD
Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) NEW NONPROFIT INITIATIVE HONOURABLE MENTION
Mercy Relief INNOVATIVE FUNDRAISING INITIATIVE AWARD
The Appeal Scrapbook – The Substation CORPORATE CITIZEN AWARD
Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd CORPORATE CITIZEN HONOURABLE MENTION
Singapore Police Force SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Isn’t she a beauty? Royal Selangor chairman Yong Poh Shin (left) and MENDAKI CEO Mdm Rashidah Abdul Rasip admiring MENDAKI’s trophy (the winners’ trophies were produced by Royal Selangor).
Prof Leo Tan, chairman, National Parks Board (left) and Dr Tan Chi Chiu.
One for the album: (from left) Anthony Teo, co-founder, Harvard Singapore Foundation; Niam Chiang Meng, Permanent Secretary, MCYS; Mrs Tan Chee Koon; Sharana Rao; Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon; Teresa Hsu; Prof S Jayakumar; Mdm Rashidah Abdul Rasip; Braema Mathi, president, TWC2; Audrey Wong, artistic director, The Substation; Paul Lawrence, CEO, HSBC; and Rear-Adm (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin.
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SCENE&S SEEN Luxury for Charity
The specially decorated Christmas trees were lined up for inspection on stage before the frenzied bidding began.
30 November, Raffles Hotel Annual Gala Dinner & Christmas Tree Auction, Raffles Hotel
Models showing off the jewellery up for auction at the Royal Plaza on Scotts charity gala dinner.
Hotel of Warmth 14 November, Royal Plaza on Scotts Charity Gala Dinner
Emcee Moses Lim and singer Claressa Monteiro and child prodigy Julia Abeuva entertained some 130 guests with their performances at the Royal Plaza on Scotts charity gala dinner. The evening saw $66,000 being raised for Autism Children’s Centre and Rainbow Centre Balestier Special School through the sale of tables and a lively auction of items ranging from luxurious room accommodation, dinner vouchers, jewellery and paintings by French artist, Karen Joubert.
Festive Joy 17 December, HCA Hospice Care Christmas Party, HCA Day Care Centre
HCA Hospice Care’s One, two, three... smile! annual Christmas Party for patients’ children and grandchildren received extra support this year from Templeton Asset Management Ltd when its employees volunteered to organise the party for them, including decorating the venue, bringing the Christmas tree and decorations, loads of goodie bags, presents, food and entertainment! Small wonder the children went home with big, bright smiles that day!
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Eight sponsors including Burberry, Elliott’s Antiques, Georg Jensen and One°15 Marina Club contributed a magnificent array of products and services for their respective Christmas trees which were up for auction at Raffles Hotel’s annual gala dinner and Christmas tree auction. A total of $287,000 was raised for four charities – AWWA Early Years Centre – EIPIC, TOUCH Caregivers Centre, MINDS Ang Mo Kio Training and Development Centre and We-sharecare Society for Children & Youth (Singapore).
Mayor Zainul (centre) and his merry band of givers.
It’s About Giving 2 December, Launch of Giving Tree @ Northeast, Tampines Central
Jointly organised by North East CDC, National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, Heartware Network and ITE Central, Giving Tree @ Northeast hosted a month-long volunteer fair in the Tampines heartlands, giving about 100,000 individuals and families an insight into the different volunteer opportunities and services provided by about 50 volunteer hosting organisations from six different sectors. The event was launched by Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Mayor of North East CDC at a special Christmas tree light-up on 2 December 2005.
Gift of Life 8 December, Maybank Blood Donation Drive, Maybank Tower
To encourage staff and tenants to come forward as blood donors, Maybank organised its first ever blood donation drive in Maybank Tower on 8 December 2005. Slated to become an annual programme, the pilot event attracted 37 donors, about half of whom were first timers motivated by the convenience of donating blood within their office building. Seventy per cent of the donors were female, bucking the national trend where only 36 per cent are.
A Worthy Legacy
A TTSH volunteer distributing goodie bags on IVD 2005.
5 December, International Volunteer Day Celebrations, Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Even on the day of an appreciation party organised for them, 120 volunteers from 16 volunteer groups at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) did not forget about their patients and helped to spread festive cheer by distributing 1,200 goodies bags to them. With a legacy of volunteerism that can be traced back to its founder Tan Tock Seng, the hospital volunteer programme is an integral part of TTSH’s healing experience, where volunteers work with staff to provide support activities like diversional therapy and peer support to the patients.
Thank You, Volunteers! 30 November, HSBC CSR Night, Ritz Carlton Millenia
Queasy at the sight of blood? Not this donor!
Over 300 HSBC staff and invited guests attended the annual volunteer appreciation event hosted by HSBC CEO Paul The Straits Times School Pocket Lawrence to thank staff volunteers. Besides recognising volunteers and Money Fund was one of the evening’s five beneficiaries. volunteer teams with Outstanding Volunteer Awards, fresh blood was also injected into the volunteer programme via the induction of eight new Volunteer Leaders. Five beneficiaries chosen by staff volunteers also received donations from the bank.
Get On the Bus! 29 November – 23 December, Malls of Centrepoint
Excited kids from the Children’s Society alighting at Centrepoint for their shopping trip.
It was a bus ride that certainly made a difference. Christmas shoppers hitching free rides on the Malls of Centrepoint charity shuttle buses during the festive shopping period donated generously to the Singapore Children’s Society by opting to “pay” for their complimentary rides. In addition, several children from the Society were chosen for a specially sponsored shopping trip to Centrepoint Shopping Centre to select presents and food items for their friends back at the Society as well as decorations for the Christmas tree generously donated by Malls of Centrepoint.
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CALENDAR D A T E S
DO YOU HAVE AN EVENT YOU WOULD LIKE TO PUBLICISE? We welcome your news of upcoming events and pictures. Please send them to SALT, 7 Maxwell Road, #05-01 Annex B MND Complex, Singapore 069111; or email email@example.com. Please include your name, the name of your organisation, address and telephone number. SALT reserves the right to edit submissions for space and clarity.
N O T E
18 March – 16 April Volunteer e-Filing Service (VES)
13 January – 5 March One Singapore Artist: Han Sai Por Venue: Sculpture Square, 155 Middle Road One of Singapore’s top practicing artists since the early 1970s, Han Sai Por is one of the very few sculptors in Singapore to create large sculptural works in stone. This exhibition of her latest series of work entitled Oasis features clean fluid lines and rounded shapes, reflecting the natural and cultural environment influencing Han’s thoughts and works. For more information, call 63331055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
5 February Teochew Opera and Music Performance in aid of Alzheimer’s Disease Association Venue: Victoria Theatre Time: 8pm The Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan and Alzheimer’s Disease Association will be co-organising a Teochew Opera and Music Performance by the Swatow Cultural Arts School in aid of the Alzheimer’s Disease Association. Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts is the guest-of-honour. The Alzheimer’s Disease Association needs at least $300,000 annually for programmes and services to help the elderly with memory loss. For tickets and more information, call Alzheimer’s Disease Association at 63538734.
18 February Dr L Subramaniam Solo Recital Venue: University Cultural Centre Time: 8pm As part of the NUS Arts Festival, renowned Indian violinist Dr L Subramaniam will be putting on a solo recital consisting of traditional
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Indian instrumental pieces, as well collaborations with percussionists from India. For tickets and more information, visit www.sistic.com.sg.
23, 26 & 28 February Kampung Senang Charity and Education Foundation Flag Day Venue: Waterloo Street/ Bencoolen Street/Bugis Area Kampung Senang Charity and Education Foundation will be having their street collection drive on these dates to raise funds for their various programmes and activities. For more information or to volunteer, call Tan Wee Hoon at 67852568.
1–3 March CASE Conference 2006 Venue: Hotel Grand Copthorne Waterfront, Singapore Organised by the National University of Singapore, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)’s next international conference features an invigorating programme including numerous
breakout sessions with worldrenowned speakers in their fields to cater to all levels of alumni relations, communications and fundraising personnel of educational institutions. For more information, log on to www.case2006.org.sg.
6 –10 March Working with Youths – Intermediate Venue: Social Service Training Institute, Ulu Pandan Community Building Designed for participants who have at least two years experience working as a social and community work practitioner or counsellor, the course aims to provide an indepth understanding on working with youths-at-risk and to impart knowledge and practical skills to handle issues faced by youths. Trainers Darryl Gardiner and Mike Garland possess many years of experience working with youths. For more information, visit www.ssti.org.sg.
Volunteer e-Filing Service (VES) is a community project that brings the convenience of e-Filing to the doorstep of taxpayers. There are 16 eClubs available for the e-Filing services. IRAS is inviting volunteers to sign up as e-Filing volunteers during the tax-filing period. As an e-Filing volunteer, you will be helping at any eClubs of your choice to guide taxpayers who need assistance in e-Filing tax returns. For more information, call 63512076 or email: VES@iras.gov.sg
5 April Raising Funds Through Events Venue: NVPC, 7 Maxwell Road #05-01 Annex B MND Building Planning an event to raise funds for your organisation? This workshop will show you effective ways to raise funds through events by strategising your campaigns, motivating your volunteers, and managing all the nitty-gritties of event management. Learn all about the protocol to follow when inviting VIPs and things to look out for in event planning, budgeting, marketing, sponsorship, regulations, risk management and standard operating procedures. For more information, call Joyce Chen at 65509598 or email email@example.com.
16 April Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society Fundraising Charity Show Channel 8, MediaCorp TV No stunts and no prizes – that’s what Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society (THKMS) promises in its first ever TV fundraising show to raise funds for the Ang Mo Kio -Thye Hua Kwan Community Hospital and several Counselling & Family Service Centres under its arm. THKMS hopes to raise $3 million to help cover the operational costs of the hospital and its centres. For more information, call 63371201 or visit www.thkms.org.sg.
S SPH – The Straits Times
“If I were not helped by it, do you think I’d be around today?” Richard Tay, the longest surviving dialysis patient at the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). He has been undergoing thrice-weekly dialysis sessions at NKF for the past 25 years.
“Any time the Assisi people want to raise funds on the golf course, let me know. But I do it only on a weekend because politically, it’s bad for me to be seen playing golf on a weekday!” Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, at the Assisi Home and Hospice charity lunch in December 2005.
“Goodness gracious! People take off their shoes and socks, and they put their feet on the coffee tables!” Friends of the Library volunteer Morris Ng, on what he has encountered during his rounds at the National Library.
“My husband and I even had to fork out $150 to attend the party at our own house!”
“I don’t want to die rich.” Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, who plans to give away her $152 million fortune before she dies.
Mrs Janice O’ Connor, wife of Courts Singapore managing director Terry O’ Connor, on how all the proceeds from their Bollywood-themed Christmas party in December 2005 – $88,000 in total – went to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. The O’Connors have been holding charity Christmas parties since 2001, raising over $230,000 in the process.
“Volunteering makes me feel useful and part of a much bigger family, which is MENDAKI.” Madam Mazanah Ahmad, a mother of six and grandmother of 26, who has volunteered with MENDAKI for the last 10 years. She was the winner of their Outstanding Senior Volunteer Award for 2005.
“I am not Khoo Swee Chiow. He wants to scale greater heights, that’s his job as an adventurer, that’s fine. I don’t do stunts because of the pressure from TV viewers.” Venerable Shi Ming Yi, chairman and CEO of Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre, on whether more dangerous stunts can be expected of him in future Ren Ci charity shows.
“You could say it was love at first sight.” Iris Li, a volunteer guide at Pulau Ubin and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, on why she signed up as a volunteer after her first visit there.
“People need to understand each other better, so the world can be at peace. Peace, in turn, will release one’s energy to concentrate on eradicating poverty.” Madam Mahani Idris Daim, wife of former Malaysian finance minister Daim Zainuddin, who recently made a $1.5 million donation to the Nanyang Technological University’s newly established School of Humanities and Social Sciences to set up a professorship.
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