No. 23 Sep-Dec 2007
For Volunteers, Donors and Non-profits
The Giving Issue NVPC awards winners for doing good well
The (Corporate) Ties That Bind Can we have a socially responsible corporate sector?
Calling the next generation of board members
Staying the Course An exclusive interview with former NVPC chairman Kwek Siew Jin
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SALT No. 23 Sep-Dec 2007
ON THE COVER The deserving winners of the 2007 National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards Pages 32-38
When it comes to community engagement, the corporate sector seems to be outdoing its previous efforts to be socially responsible. MICHELLE BONG looks at the wealth of work done by these willing and able organisations.
SALT SHAKERS AND MOVERS
Ship Shape Former NVPC chairman Kwek Siew Jin looks back on a very eventful stewardship.
Andrew Duffy wonders why it’s so challenging these days to find suitably qualified professionals to sit on corporate boards.
LETTER FROM SALT SALT TIPS
NEWS BRIEFS A wrap-up of events, programmes and activities in the People Sector. PEOPLE MOVEMENTS Appointments and new postings in the People Sector.
17 PEOPLE SECTOR PEOPLE The Necessary Stage has just turned 20! Michelle Bong catches up with founders Alvin Tan and Haresh Sharma for their insights on the local theatre company’s success and birthday wishes for the future.
18 WALK THE TALK No stranger to the field of philanthropy, Keppel Corporation has been consistently guided by its philosophy of valuing people and our precious natural resources.
27 SALT AND PEPPER How should an organisation keep its volunteers motivated? Martin J Cowling admits it’s a delicate balancing act, and shares some tips.
29 SALT KIT Jack Sim says the secret to a winning attitude is to never start solving a problem with a defensive mind-set. Believe you can win. And you will.
30 SCENE AND SEEN SALT THOUGHTS
The Second Philanthropic Revolution
What are the modern day philanthropists doing differently from the days of Andrew Carnegie? Willie Cheng charts the genesis of the second philanthropic revolution.
40 A DASH OF SALT
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L E T T E R
F R O M
S A L T
SALT is a non-profit magazine with a managed circulation for members of non-profit 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.
MANAGING EDITOR Tan Chee Koon
DEPUTY EDITOR Daven Wu
CONTRIBUTORS Michelle Bong Michelle Lee Andrew Duffy
PUBLISHING CONSULTANT AND MEDIA REPRESENTATIVE Epigram SALT is published bi-monthly by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre 6 Eu Tong Sen Street #04-88 The Central Singapore 059817 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) 153/01/2008 ISSN No. 17933-4478
Photo courtesy of The Peak, Copyright 2007 SPH Magazines Pte Ltd
To advertise, please call Cynthia Tay at tel: 6292 4456 Email: email@example.com
s publishers of a regular magazine, we have committed the cardinal sin of missing an issue, and being late for this combined one, with apologies to our advertisers and subscribers. No excuses even if this was a particularly demanding quarter for NVPC with back-to-back flagship conference and awards events, plus the move to our new home at The Giving Place and the transition to a new Board. It is a malaise of the non-profit sector space that sometimes we take on more than we can chew, by choice or by chance. As we review our priorities for 2008, it is likely that we will adjust the frequency of SALT to make it a quarterly, rather than bi-monthly publication. Change is not just what NVPC is grappling with as we cross over into the new year, with a new Board, new home and new way of doing things. Change is what the not-for-profit sector needs to embrace. This includes the way Board members for charities are sourced as reflected in our feature article on Board Match, and critically, how leaders for the non-profit sector are consciously identified, developed and groomed. Our Shaker & Mover for this issue, Rear-Admiral (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin – who has newly stepped down as chairman of NVPC – embodies the kind of Board-level leadership that the sector could do with. In our space, it is not enough to be efficient or effective in what we do in a coldly functioning kind of way. The heart has to be seen and felt, the way he amply demonstrated in the sensitive way in which he, as President of the Singapore Dragon Boat Association, handled the unfortunate tragedy that befell members of the national team in Cambodia. The interview was carried out before this incident, but we see in him the kind of high-level leadership this sector requires, and deserves. If we are to multiply the number of NPOs that uphold best practice standards in giving, change too is needed at executive-level leadership. This is the giving issue, dedicated to all those, including companies, that do good well, the best of which are annually recognised in our National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards. Many more are quietly doing their bit, but much more can be done to consciously attract and mentor talent especially for the chief executive role for non-profits. Businesses too are changing the way they approach their corporate social responsibility (see pg 10). No two ways about it. Change is in the air. In 2008, may we all embrace change, and may joy be yours as you do so. Tan Chee Koon Chief Executive Officer National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre
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“Daddy… why does mummy say your work is more important than us?” While work is a critical part of life, family happiness is something money cannot buy.
The key lies in planning your work around the family. There’s a need to spend more quality time with your spouse and your children, especially in their vital growing up years. Glean new insights on harmonising work and family life from www.mcys.gov.sg
Brought to you by:
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MAILBAG The Wonder Years
was listening to a chat show this morning – the topic was poverty. As I listened, I began to reflect on why people would visit the Wonders of the World – I suppose it’s for the sight, sounds, experience, and maybe to tell your friends. Well, I would like to suggest that we visit the following “7 Wonders” in Singapore too. Bring the children too. 1. A one-room at HDB flat to experience how over 40,000 Singaporean households live. 2. A polyclinic on a Monday morning to experience how people wait for 3 to 4 hours, just to save a few dollars when they are sick. 3. Free breakfast for needy students at a school. Last year, the Ministry of Education provided financial assistance to 35,000 school children and the ST School Pocket Money Fund gave pocket money to 7,500 children. 4. A nursing home run by a Voluntary Welfare Organisation. 5. Chinatown in the early morning and early evening to see how the elderly poor live. 6. Take a stroll along the corridor of HDB flats and see if you can spot the more than 12,000 Pay-As-You-Use (PAYU) meters, and try to feel what it’s like to have to put $5 into the meter in order to have $4 worth of electricity, with $1 going towards paying the arrears. 7. Finally, visit the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, and ask what help they need? After visiting the above “7 Wonders of Singapore”, you may, perhaps, have less occasion to wonder why sometimes life seems to be difficult, especially when you are feeling down. Maybe you will begin to appreciate more the little that you have and consider what you do every day as being more “wonderful”.
Leong Sze Hian, President Society of Financial Service Professionals, Representative Inter-American Economic Council
Some Good News
’ve got very happy news to share with you. As you may know, last year, the Student Advisory Centre refocused our attention towards school-based work. In our second year, we currently serve 12 schools and 590 students, predominantly youths from families with difficulties and various troubling issues. I was very encouraged to be informed recently that the Minister for Education, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, spoke of our Centre’s work at the Work Plan Seminar for principals in Singapore. Under the heading “Partnership with the Community”, the Centre’s work with the youths was commended and feedback was shared. I always remember that I managed to get my start only through the kind support of an initial grant from NVPC. Now that our work has moved a little bit more, I wish to share this good piece of news with you. Thank you for your support from the beginning. Without it, there would have been no today. Trevor Xie, Founder Student Advisory Centre
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.
T I P S How NPOs Can Enforce Better Internal Financial Controls
he spotlight has once again turned on NPOs with greater scrutiny on the management of their funds. To maintain public confidence, NPOs must put in place proper governance and internal control measures to help minimise cases of forgery, fraud or mismanagement of funds. In this regard, NPOs face several key challenges. These include (i) Internal control/ management of funds; and (ii) managing risk and security associated with transactions/ payments. These days, many banks offer sophisticated solutions to provide NPOs with cash management services that not only help streamline receivable/payable processes, but can also help to ensure better internal controls. Internet banking is a particularly effective way to put in place such controls: 1. Determine User Access With most Internet banking services, the access of each user can be controlled. For example, User A can only view bank account details. Users B and C are dual-authorised signatories, where payment can be made only if jointly approved by both. Further, payment limits can be assigned to each authoriser, where, for instance, B can approve payments up to a certain amount and B and C must approve any amount beyond that. 2. Pre-Approved Payment Template: NPOs can use pre-approved templates for recurrent payments such as utilities. This prevents any unauthorised changes in payment details without prior approval of the authorised signatories. 3. Two-Factor Authentication: This is an enhanced security measure put in place for the use of electronic transactions. It helps to ensure only authorised users have access to sensitive bank account information and are authorised to make transactions. Notification services are offered by some banks. These provide regular updates on the status of bank accounts via SMS or e-mail. This way, clients are constantly updated on movement (if any) of funds. This article was contributed by Chow Theng Kai, Head Cash Management, OCBC Bank.
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N E W S B
A WRAP-UP OF HAPPENINGS AROUND SINGAPORE
The Exchange Board drawing great interest.
This year’s NVPC conference tackled timely issues affecting the volunteerism and philanthropy sector. Dr Francis C. Chen, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, RADM (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin and Pauline Lim launching Board Match.
RADM (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin, Claire Chiang, Tan Chee Koon and Thomas Thomas.
RADM (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin delivering his opening address.
Jack Sim getting audience to say Yes!
ver 500 corporate and non-profit leaders, as well as representatives from the public sector, gathered for the 2007 National Volunteerism & Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility Conference on 30 and 31 October at Suntec Singapore. This year’s dual-track Conference – themed “Doing Good, Doing Well” – kicked off with the Guest-of-Honour Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, launching NVPC’s latest initiative, Board Match. This programme aims to build capacity in
Participants registering for the conference.
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Keynote speaker, Professor Charles Hampden-Turner.
Kenneth Tan, Terry Farris, Baey Yam Keng, Dr Ow Chee Chung and Fang Ai Lian.
the non-profit sector by matching individuals committed to the idea of strengthening non-profit boards with the relevant charitable and other non-profit organisations (NPOs) in Singapore. Through this initiative, NVPC seeks to identify committed individuals from the wide talent pool in Singapore to help in NPO board renewal. This was followed by an update of the $88 million Tidal Waves Asia Fund by Associate Professor Lim Meng Kin, vice-chairman of the Asian Tsunami Reconstruction Facilitation Committee. The conference’s opening keynote address saw Professor Charles HampdenTurner sharing with participants the dilemmas of giving. The Cambridge University senior research associate and veteran of America’s “war on poverty”
highlighted that one of the main problems for charitable organisations is ‘singleminded’ giving, which breeds passivity and single-minded taking. The second keynote speaker, founder of The Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, Dr Jane Goodall, inspired participants with her message of how volunteers and donors have made a difference since the start of her dreams decades ago, in areas such as chimpanzee research, initiatives that help conserve forest habitat and improve the lives of adjacent communities, and her institute’s youth leadership endeavours. Dr Goodall received a standing ovation for her inspirational address. The 2007 conference had an impressive line up of practical and topical topics,
Professor Charles Hampden-Turner, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Anthony Teo.
Dr Jane Goodall inspiring all with her keynote address.
as well as a showcase of cutting-edge best practices. One of the most engaging discussions was on “Digging Yourself Out of a Hole – Managing a Crisis to Restore Public Confidence”. This panel discussion was chaired by Viswa Sadasivan, Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Moves Pte Ltd; and included, as panellists, Mrs Eunice Tay, Chief Executive Officer, National Kidney Foundation; Ms Hong Woon Young, Executive Director, Youth Challenge; and Mr Alan John, Associate Editor, The Straits
Participants engrossed with the discussion.
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PEOPLE MOVEMENTS Before joining the Riding for the Disabled Association of Singapore in July, Eugene Lim was the CEO of the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home. As the RDA’s new executive director, he hopes to build up the organisation to provide more horse riding therapy programmes to help the physically and/or intellectual disabled. Mr Lim comes with a wealth of social service experience having been involved in community service and grassroots organisations for the last 30 years. He is both a CMA and CPA, with decades of finance and senior management experience in the private sector before joining the social service sector. In August, Yap Su-Yin joined the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation as its programme director. Besides allocating resources to meaningful causes, she will craft new ways for the Foundation to benefit the charity sector. Prior to this, Ms Yap was Straits Times’ correspondent. She’s also been based in Thailand and China, covering a range of socio-cultural, political and economic news for various papers in Asia and Europe. Qualified from London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she also volunteers as an arts trainer for disadvantaged children and youth. Since June, Lee Mee Mee has been operations director at the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation. Her role includes the Foundation’s new focus areas of hospitality and events, as well as the running of the Foundation’s activities which will now be housed at the newly conserved mansion at 42 Cairnhill Road. Ms Lee has over 20 years background in human resources and has worked in Singapore and Malaysia with organisations such as Deloitte & Touche, Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young.
Tony Elischer getting up close with the audience.
Winners of the Pitch, Barista Express with Yeong Phick Fui.
Tan Chee Koon and Peter Draw in NVPC’s farewell to RADM (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin.
Kenn Allen and Brett Rierson.
Times. Other topics that were discussed included “Time is Money: Using Volunteer Time to Raise Funds”, “Getting Top Management Support for Volunteer Programmes” and “Keeping Volunteers and Donors”. Another highlight of this year’s conference was ‘The Pitch’. The real-time contest saw three short-listed non-profit organisations pitch their causes on the theme “Community Regeneration towards Persons with Disabilities” to a three-judge panel in front of a live audience. Sponsored by UBS, the winning pitch went to Barista Express Café, which took home both the Judges’ Choice and Audience’s Choice Awards, winning $35,000 and $15,000 respectively. In a surprise acceptance speech, Barista Express Café called for the prize money to be shared amongst the finalists, Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, and the Society for the Physically Disabled. Participants found the conference meaningful and thought-provoking. More importantly, they left inspired and motivated to carry on doing good well, armed with new ideas, widened networks and a deeper insight into the issues and challenges ahead.
This September, David Tan WeiSon came aboard as the new vice-Chairman of Heartware Network. Previously the CEO of CapitaCommercial Trust Management Limited, Mr Tan is a Singapore Government Scholar who graduated from Cambridge University with a Masters degree in Law.
Participants viewing the Market Place.
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his past September’s President’s Star Charity 2007 show saw a record amount of $5.46 million being raised for 32 charities including the Parkinson’s Disease Society and the Down Syndrome Association. Of this, just $567,700 came from viewers who called the three hotline numbers, while the rest – a whopping $4.89 million – came from several corporate donors including the Singapore Jewish Community. Just over a week earlier, through its philanthropic arm CapitaLand Hope Foundation, corporate property giant Capitaland gave away $1 million to ten beneficiaries including the Children’s Cancer Foundation, the Straits Times Pocket Money Fund and World Vision Singapore. The Singapore-based corporation now sets aside 0.5 per cent of its net profit for its charity arm every year, with the possibility of future donations funding more projects in China and across the region. Said foundation chairman Lim Chin Beng, “’We don’t just build offices, houses and malls. We’d like to think we build lives too.” And since January this year, multinational company MediaCorp has been partnering non-profit organisation, Habitat for Humanity Singapore, to build homes for the poor in Indonesia’s Batam island. The organisation has been sending 12 volunteers monthly to build the houses alongside the beneficiary families, as part of a three-day stint under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme. As Yong Teck Meng, Habitat’s national director told Channel News Asia, over 300 houses have been built with the help of
(Corporate) Ties That Bind
When it comes to community development, the corporate sector seems to be outdoing its previous efforts to be sociallyresponsible. michelle bong looks at the wealth of work done by these willing and able organisations. MediaCorp and other volunteers, three times the initial target of 100 new homes. These are just some of many examples to indicate a rising tide of corporate community involvement, both in numbers and quality. Today’s corporations are doing more, compared with three years ago when collectively they gave less to the charity pie than grantmakers and individuals. According to NVPC’s The State of Giving – a report on giving behaviour among individuals, corporations and grantmakers – corporations only donated $111 million out of almost $1 billion into 2003.
SIGN OF THE TIMES Today, corporations avail themselves of an array of strategies to do good – from charity funds to employee fundraising and payrollgiving to the volunteering of core competencies and skills. Take, for instance, Super Bean International, more popularly known as Mr Bean. The leading chain soya bean food and beverage retailer with 28 outlets island-wide has adopted CSR practices to focus on long-term benefits across all levels of the organisation from the top managers to the counter staff. Through activities such as fundraising and partnerships during special events like Sports Day and special walks for its adopted charity Pathlight School, the company raised $26,000 in a recent initiative where they sold specially produced Mr Bean soft toys. Along the way, the company notes that staff have accrued benefits such as selfsatisfaction, while customers have also enjoyed a ‘feel good’ factor when purchasing their soya bean treats. That differentiates Mr Bean, the first organisation in its industry to support a charity through its business operations, from the rest. True to its brand ethos “Life’s Simple Pleasures”, customer enjoyment extends far beyond that of a creamy beverage to encompass the heartening knowledge of having made a difference in the life of a child, albeit indirectly. Says managing director Kang Puay Seng, “Good CSR practices start from the heart. It’s not just about putting money aside, but also a longer term commitment to improve lives. We couldn’t do it if our network of 250 staff in more than 30
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kiosks in Singapore didn’t see the benefit of helping these children.” Meanwhile, in line with its mission to use its people, technology, and relationships to improve communities, on-demand business services company Salesforce Asia Pacific uses a unique 1/1/1 model1% Time, 1% Equity, and 1% Product – to reach out to the community and increase the effectiveness of non-profit organisations so they can better achieve their goals. To that end, employees have six paid days off in a year which they can devote to volunteerism activities such as giving tuition or improving living spaces for the needy; one percent of founding stock is used to offer grants and monetary assistance to those in need, especially to support youth and technology programs and one per cent of salesforce.com licences are donated to non-profits helping them to increase their operating effectiveness and use their resources more wisely. To date, the foundation has been responsible for donating to more than 2,500 non-profits, including 65,000 hours of volunteer work donated by employees, and millions of dollars in grants to help the global community. This year, salesforce.com partnered Special Olympics Singapore (SOS) in various fundraising activities including Flag Day and bowling for charity. In addition, the foundation organised a private fundraising event, Spin for Charity, in May which raised more than $150,000 for SOS. In August, a basketball clinic was held to help re-introduce basketball as a sport to the SOS athletes. An integrated program, BizAcademy, was also run to offer secondary students the opportunity to learn the basics of business and ‘manage’ a company in all aspects, from raising money and learning about finances, to manufacturing a product of their own creation before marketing and selling it. Two rounds of BizAcademy were held – one in December last year and another in June. One of the graduates of the programme has since been working in Salesforce.com’s finance department. Says a Salesforce.com Foundation spokesperson, “A key feature of our philanthropic direction is management’s belief that the easiest way to give back to the community is to start early, rather than wait
till the company has earned its millions. By committing to the community right at the start, giving back has become part of the salesforce.com DNA. We see it as part of our mandate to promote our caring philosophy with businesses and community members around the world and encourage corporations to make philanthropic commitments earlier in their life cycles. It’s been energising to see companies such as Google make public commitments to follow our lead. We are encouraged by the potential of many other companies launching their own integrated philanthropic programs – magnifying the difference that we can make collectively.”
“The easiest way to give back to the community is to start early, rather than wait till the company has earned its millions.” DOING IT THEIR WAY As for HSBC, making a difference in the lives of the children of the ST School Pocket Money Fund and the Society for the Physically Disabled comes in the form of employee fundraising – and copious amount of perspiration. Their successful initiative, Not A Walk In The Park, involved a 30-hour 101 km overnight trek. The “workout” effortlessly rallied the participation of some 3,000 staff and management, and doubled the initial fundraising goal of $500,000 to some $900,000. Colleagues also boosted fundraising
efforts in the weeks leading up to the walk. Groups put together fringe activities including a mini-walk around the banks of Boat Quay to earn monetary pledges from family, friends and business associates. There were even inter-department competitions to raise the most money, along with encouragement from business partners, associates and clients in the form of donations, well-wishes and even bottles of Brands Essence of Chicken tonic. CEO Guy Harvey-Samuel, who led the charge that took him and the others from HSBC Building in Collyer Quay to the HDB heartlands of Hougang and Ang Mo Kio, on to the Central Catchment
HSBC senior managers (L-R) Chris Hurd, Head of Corporate and Investment Banking; Chang Tou Chen, Head of Investment Banking, Asia Pacific; Guy Harvey Samuel, CEO HSBC Singapore; Neil Tottman, Head of Credit Risk Management; John Mcgowan, Head of Global Markets are delighted at reaching the finish line after over 30 hours on the road!
Nature Reserve and the heart of the city, and back to HSBC Building, says the pushing of their physical limits was instrumental in expressing their commitment to the cause. “By the time we crossed the finishing line, we had been on the road for over 30 hours and covered a distance equivalent to 253 rounds on a standard stadium track. But this is precisely why we undertook the challenge in the first place – to show how committed we are to doing our part for the community. The discomfort we experienced is just one small way we hope to show the children, in particular those from the Society for the Physically Disabled, that we appreciate the immense difficulties they face everyday and are doing our part to help make their lives easier.” Similarly sweating it out for a good cause in September this year was a group of employees from footwear, outerwear and Sep-Dec 2007 S A LT •
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luggage company Timberland, who helped to clean up the home of an abandoned widow, Madam Samayapukam, as part of a day-long Habitat for Humanity community project. She had been living in an uninhabitable, ramshackle one-bedroom flat in Redhill Close with a filthy floor, pieces of old newspapers, a dust-caked fan and a dirty mattress without a sheet. Hours later, Timberland staff had madeover the space with a much better and cleaner environment, complete with a new bed and a side table.
LG is currently working on sustainable initiatives to assist the beneficiaries of the Sunlove Neighbourhood Link in different aspects of their daily living, beginning with a weekly lunch programme for needy seniors. With the start of this lunch programme, LG will also look towards other potential employee volunteering opportunities such as food rations for low-income households, as well as other meaningful events and activities. Meanwhile, ABN AMRO has adopted Students Care Service (SCS) as its sole
CSR activities on benefiting the youth in society. The new partnership has worked very well: four pilot community projects to promote sports, entrepreneurship, arts and education among the youth through fun and interactive activities have been executed. All funded entirely by the bank, the events also do double-duty to enhance the skill sets and confidence of the youth, and promote active volunteerism among ABN AMRO employees, who execute and run the programmes entirely. “On average, we have a minimum of 50 employees involved in each project,” says managing director and country executive (South East Asia) David Wong, “and a big scale event may involve up to a 100 volunteers. The participation rate is very encouraging. In fact, we have seen participation rate increasing very year. In 2006, we saw a 20% increase in the number of employees taking part.”
SHAREHOLDERS OR STAKEHOLDERS?
Saleforce.com’s Spin For Charity fundraising event.
WHAT THEY DO BEST Doing things a little differently, consumer electronics, home appliances and mobile communications company LG Electronics Singapore and global banking group ABN AMRO have steadily built on their strong track record of philanthropic pursuits through regional and local initiatives, and leveraging on their employee skills respectively. Last year, as part of LG’s corporate social responsibility initiative across Asia, the 2006 LG Pan Asian Family Festival (LG Wishing Wall) was rolled out in nine Asian countries and a donation of $78,120 was contributed to Community Chest to support PAVe (Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence). The donation will go towards supporting programmes and services that help to promote, maintain and improve the wellbeing of families in need.
“True corporate vision must embrace the wider community rather than just shareholders, customers and suppliers”. VWO partner in line with the bank’s strategy to adopt a more focused approach in implementing CSR activities. In choosing a single VWO to focus on, the bank is able to better understand the needs of the organisation as well as the community it serves, which in turn will help its volunteers come up with more customised programs and plans for the organisation. SCS was chosen for two key reasons – the long working relationship it has already cultivated as a partner of the bank’s four year-old Employee Volunteering Program, and the bank’s decision to concentrate
In practising CSR, it is inevitable that many questions come into play as organisations find that tricky balance between being both a successful business and a responsible community partner. But the biggest question remains: How can we justify to our shareholders that we are giving away what could have been dividends, so as to benefit the community? Holding fast to the truism that true corporate vision must embrace the wider community rather than just shareholders, customers and suppliers, most organisations say the move from shareholder to stakeholder value is not as difficult as it may appear to be. HSBC’s Harvey Samuel concedes that as a successful global business that serves over 125 million customers in 83 countries and territories, the bank’s first responsibility to its shareholders is to be successful. However, it “cannot enjoy long term success unless we fulfil our basic responsibility to conduct ourselves in a manner that earns the trust and respect of the wider community.” Samuel adds that as “The World’s Local Bank”, HSBC believes in fulfilling its role as a corporate citizen and contributing to the growth and development of the communities in which it operates
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– bottom-line considerations should and, in fact, must feature, but this bottom-line is of a more progressive nature; in other words, the long term sustainability of the communities that support its business. Similarly, ABN AMRO’s Wong says in today’s increasingly globalised world, businesses and societies are very much interdependent. “Increasingly, we see a trend that people want to invest in companies that do good and are responsible in their business practices. In recent years, there have been more fund managers adopting a socially
“Many employees find it empowering that they can play an active role in contributing back to the community. They tell us that it’s the secret weapon that keeps them grounded.” responsible mandate in their investment processes. This shift in mindset is a reflection of the increased social and environmental consciousness of society,” he adds.
ADDED STAKES At the same time, another group of stakeholders come in the form of the employees of these corporate organisations who have much to gain from their employers’ CSR initiatives. “In encouraging our employees to use their capabilities to improve their communities and people’s lives, we have
helped them become more motivated and productive,” says LG Electronics Singapore’s managing director Howard Lee, while Super Bean International’s Kang says employees don’t mind going the extra mile because they understand and embrace the top-down objectives. Gains are also made in terms of staff morale and community goodwill. Says a Salesforce.com spokesperson, “From a human resources stand-point, many in today’s workforce are looking for more than just a job. Our philanthropic mission
LG Electronics Singapore sponsored a 32” LCD TV to Sunlove Neighbourhood Link. In the photo: Howard Lee, Managing Director of LG Electronics Singapore at Sunlove Home with Mr Wee Lin, Chairman, Sunlove Home (right).
helps us attract, and maintain the best talent in the industry. One of the greatest benefits we have gained is strengthened team bonding amongst employees where volunteering provides them with a fun and alternative avenue to interact with each other outside the work environment. “Many employees find it empowering that they can play an active role in contributing back to the community. They tell us that the foundation is the secret weapon that keeps them grounded; they want to do more than just make money and they are proud to identify with the company’s philanthropic efforts, which give them the opportunity to make the world a better place.”
WILL YOU DO IT? Suffice to say that when it comes to corporate philanthropy, there are many ways in which corporations can stand up and be counted. The organisations mentioned above have found CSR success because they tailored their efforts to match
their corporate culture, to produce the best results possible. An ideal starting point is NVPC’s ComCare Connection, a national initiative that provides a dedicated platform for organisations, schools, associations and other interested bodies to lend their expertise and resources to support social enterprises and voluntary welfare organisations that serve the needy. The service matches corporations with suitable organisations for the development of fruitful, sustained partnerships. One such success story is the partnership between Starbucks Coffee and The Salvation Army. Recently, on 6 December, Starbucks held their Christmas Open House fundraiser: all its 50 stores offered complimentary tall-sized beverages from 5pm and 7pm, and customers were encouraged to make a donation. The partnership was facilitated under the ComCare Connection under which both organisations work on sustainable and collaborative initiatives to bring benefits to the beneficiaries of The Salvation Army. Starbucks will also look into the possibility of other mentoring programmes and internship opportunities for youth beneficiaries from Salvation Army to learn job skills and responsible work etiquette. In the end, the hope is that corporations continue to step up to the plate as good community partners. There is so much more that can be done by way of strategic corporate philanthropy that benefits corporations, their partnering agencies and the community at large. Partnerships of this nature are invaluable: their mutually beneficial relationships can lead to closer ties between the private, public and people sectors. And with strong support from businesses, non-profits can grow to be more efficient and effective in their delivery of services. SALT recommends former US President Bill Clinton’s new philanthropy and civic action tome ‘Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World’ and NVPC’s ‘Time, Talent & Treasure: Best Practices in Corporate Giving’. The latter (available for $35 from www.nvpc.org) showcases corporate giving best practices in Singapore. Both books contain moving tales of corporate givers, drawn from various organisations in different industries. ✩ Sep-Dec 2007 S A LT •
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should be either able to comply with the guidelines, or explain why they do not. The proposal to tighten the existing regulations has helped restore trust among donors. But it may also have had a knockon effect for the boards themselves when it comes to finding fresh blood. “It has always been a real challenge to find people with the right qualifications for the board,” says Wong. Now, following the fallout from the IT MAY BE HARDER FOR SOME NON-PROFIT BOARDS TO RECRUIT National Kidney Foundation, Singapore PROFESSIONALS, WITH THE NEW CODE OF GOVERNANCE AND Association for the Visually Handicapped, THE FALLOUT FROM RECENT CRISES. BUT, AS ANDREW DUFFY Youth Challenge and Ren Ci episodes, and the tightening of the guidelines, the DISCOVERS, A NEW BOARD MATCH PROGRAMME SHOULD HELP task has become even harder. MATCHMAKE THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO THE RIGHT CHARITIES. “It’s just fear,” says Dr Uma Rajan, who has been a regular on NPO boards for 20 t sounds like the start of a joke: the Code says. The Code “will therefore years. “Fear because it is difficult to underAn accountant, a human resources help members of the public understand director and a public relations (PR) the hallmarks of good governance and also stand all the governance rules in one go. practitioner walked into a bar... help charities prepare themselves to cater They’re scared of the heavy responsibility, because they have to come more often, they But the bar is the board room of to an increasingly discerning public”. have to know more details, their concerns a charity; and it’s no laughing matter, The Code is largely not new but a are ‘What am I signing up for?’ so it is because they aren’t walking in fast enough. rationalisation of existing Codes and best going to be difficult to rejuvenate boards.” With the Code of Governance for practice guidelines issued by the National As a result, there is currently an urgent Charities and Institutions of a Public Council of Social Service and the previous need to look for volunteers with profesCharacter finally in place, the spotlight has Council on Governance of IPCs. Some sional skills in accountancy to stand in fallen on the issue of getting more profesmodifications were made to enhance the as treasurer; PR to promote the charities; sionals onto the boards of non-profits. The Code, based on best practices in advanced and human resources to advise on best new Commissioner of Charities and Charity jurisdictions abroad, for use locally. Broadly, practice for the staff and volunteers Council are both looking in the same the Code sets out best practices in board “It is also more stringent now,” admits direction: how non-profits are managed. governance, strategic planning, conflicts of William Tng, executive director of the So far, so good: charities need profesinterest, programme management, as well Association for Persons with Special Needs sional guidance to be run with greater as HR, financial management, disclosure, (APSN), adding that some volunteers have rigour, especially following recent highfund-raising and public relations. voiced concerns that they’ve profile scandals. “The new emphasis on The guidelines are professionalism and accountability will tiered into Basic, Enhanced “The new emphasis had to declare their spouse’s make it harder, but we will have a stronger and Advanced sections, on professionalism interests as well, for example. board and better outcomes for the benefiaccording to the IPC status and accountability To be fair, the Code states ciaries,” says Kevin Wong, executive director and size of the charity – will make it harder, there should be procedures for board members to declare of the Singapore Disability Sports Council. higher standards apply to but we will have a actual or potential conflicts, for The need to restore public confidence IPCs and larger organisais clear. “Good governance is becoming tions. It has a “comply or stronger board and example, where board members an increasingly important criterion in explain” principle, which better outcomes for have personal interest in busiassessing whether to donate or volunteer,” means charities and IPCs the beneficiaries.” ness transactions.
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BOARD MATCH PROGRAMME The immediate past chairman of NVPC, Rear-Admiral (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin, recognises this new challenge, which prompted his championing of the new Board Match programme. This initiative, launched at the end of October by NVPC, aims to help non-profits source talented and suitable volunteers to serve as members of their Boards or in other leadership positions in committees. “Because of all these changes, we thought it would become more difficult to find good people,” says Kwek. “That was part of the reason for setting up Board Match. For smaller NPOs, it is difficult to find people with the qualifications and the qualities they need to make up a good board. We are the matchmakers.” Board Match helps find suitable people on both sides of the equation. “For the demand side, we have written to the NPOs in our directory, and whenever we have training sessions for their executive directors and CEOs, we present the service to them,” says Devi, assistant director of the NVPC’s community partnership division. Devi adds that it does not work as well for a charity if a stranger calls in out of the blue as someone referred by NVPC. “To filter the volunteers, we look at their qualifications and years of experience,” she says. “Some organisations say their board members must have certain experience in, say, working with special education children, or possess qualifications like HR”. When APSN heard that NVPC had potential volunteer board members, the organisation figured it made sense to approach the centre. APSN wanted someone with a personnel background to head the HR sub-committee,
“They’re scared of the heavy responsibility, because they have to come more often, an accountant to be a treathey have to know surer, and someone with an more details, their entrepreneurial drive to raise concerns are ‘What the profile of the organisation am I signing up for?’ and implement projects. “We put these criteria to so it is going to be NVPC,” says Tng. “It started difficult to rejuvewith a chat, we emailed them nate boards.” and they came up with three volunteers. We met them and found we had something in common, which was a passion to help children. Two have come on board. The third was too busy and did not have time, even though he wanted to do something for the society.” For all parties, it was a quicker and more efficient system than the classic approach of asking friends and contacts. On the supply side, the Board Match programme makes it easier for volunteers to find a charity, rather than knocking on doors. Kwek added that it is difficult to walk into a charity and ask ‘Take me!’ Instead, NVPC finds people with the right qualities and also knows the needs of the non-profits, so they can match the two. “Of course, the chemistry has to be there, too,” Kwek says. The Board Match programme saves a lot of time for volunteers looking for somewhere to help. “Applying directly to different charities may necessitate researching charities independently to find out about their work, and possibly need a lot of personal contacts and time to establish which charities might be in need of board volunteers,” points out Manojit Sen, who is Global HR Manager for Shell Marine Products. “This would entail significant commitment; something which folks like myself would be unable and unwilling to give.” Sen has no specific charity
he wants to help – he just wants to do something, to “lend a helping hand to the good, inspired work being done by some.” The programme also opens a door for volunteers. One, Eddy Chong, signed up because “I knew they wanted it, rather than knocking on doors and saying ‘Do you want me?’ which seems a rather roundabout way.” Chong, who is a manager of the Service Learning Programme at Republic Polytechnic, has a Masters in health and exercise science, and wanted to work with youth in areas where his sports medicine training would help. He was put in touch with the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) and is waiting to hear if he will join the board. The SDSC’s Wong says, “We needed people who understand corporate sponsorship and have a sports background. That is why we tapped into NVPC’s programme and their expertise.” They were looking for two kinds of persons: “One to work on publicity and raising awareness; and the second to work on community sports participation, to help us reach out to the community because we want to get those with physical disabilities playing sports.” It is this second category that appealed to Chong, who has been involved in civic engagement for five years. The connection is that his Service Learning Programme allows students to engage with civic projects, working for the good of the community. “They may need people, and I have students working in health, for example, so they can get involved in a relevant area which is a learning opportunity for them, and helps the organisation. It’s a win-win situation.”
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On top of this, to increase the pool of volunteers, NVPC’s Kwek says, “We reach out through umbrella organisations such as the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS) and the Law Society for those people with qualifications boards need.” Board Match looks for more professionals to contribute to the boards, but that doesn’t mean they can just turn up, offer a few words of wisdom and then go home. The commitment still has to be to the whole NPO. For one thing, it’s more satisfying that way. “A contribution is only really felt between the board member and the staff of the organisation if it goes beyond the meetings,” says Rajan. “So that when you come to meetings you’re in a better position to contribute. It’s more like being part of the staff. They ask you for your advice and make you feel needed – and that helps keep you on that board.” For another, some NPOs already see little division between the board and the direct-service team. “We encourage active involvement from the board,” says Wong at SDSC, “so for example at all events, we have a board member as the chair, or for overseas events a board member will head the team, or in competitions a board member will present the prizes. It has helped a lot to clear up misunderstandings, and they come up with creative ideas to deal with issues.”
OWN RESOURCES The Board Match programme does not promise to be a panacea for all charities’ management concerns. NVPC realises that it has to manage volunteers’ expectations, and tell people that it may take some time to place them. Also whilst NVPC would help where possible, it might not be able to find all
board decides if they can join,” says Tng. the people a VWO might want. “We hope A fit is not always guaranteed, though. that they will continue to tap on their When it comes to volunteers, some own resources,” says Devi. charities have special requirements, or a And they do. At St Luke’s Hospital, for very broad pool to draw on anyway. Take example, there is a system of shadowing, the case of the Asian Women’s Welfare where alternative board members from Association (AWWA). each foundation member shadow their “At AWWA, board members have to be respective board members to be groomed women because our constitution requires to take over the leadership. it, and they need to have a certain type of At MINDS, over the last two years, fit,” said vice-president Anita Fam. “The “we have elected or co-opted a lawyer, a volunteers also need to have time, because banker, an architect, an accountant and we meet during office hours which makes a finance and HR practitioner,” says its it difficult for people with full-time jobs.” Honorary Secretary Jeffrey Tan. “We are Their own contacts, she says, have on the lookout for a suitable medical always been enough to find new people professional and an educationist as well.” for committees and boards. “We have MINDS also offers training to new always been careful with who we approach. board members, through courses conducted We need people with a by SSTI or workshop/briefThe Board Match similar working philosings organised by NCSS that Programme does not ophy; this is a working are open to all its executive promise a panacea for board so there are a lot of committee members. Says all charities’ manage- expectations.” Tan, “Internal briefings are ment concerns. NVPC At the other end of also conducted, whenever realises that it has to the spectrum, some volunthere are new members, on manage volunteers’ teers are not ready for the new rules and regulations expectations, and tells Board Match programme. such as the new IPC regulapeople that it may take “We do have people who tions, critical issues on intelsome time to place them. have just joined the worklectual disability, outcome management, corporate governance and force and who want to join a board,” says NVPC’s Devi. “But we tell them the draft Mental Capacity Bill.” that to serve on a board, you should have At SDSC, they have a broader pool some understanding of the sector, so we of expertise to tap on, because they suggest they try out direct service first.” have 18 VWOs registered with them as Inevitably, any matching programme direct members. “During the AGM, they will have some who end up on the shelf. elect our executive committee, so our “We haven’t reached that stage yet,” board members are usually our affiliate says Devi. “But at the end of a year, members,” explains Wong. “We have if someone hasn’t found a position on a also created in our constitution the right board, we will check if they are still interto co-opt people, for example from the ested or if they would consider another Ministry of Education for someone with programme instead.” an expertise in special schools, or from That is some way away. For now, the Singapore Sports Council to get with the new programme, perhaps the joke these key stakeholders on board.” should run “An accountant, a human Meanwhile, at APSN, there is a trial resources director, a PR, and a matchperiod for would-be board members. “We maker walked into a bar...” have our own constitution and own policies, That has a much more promising so they come and join as a member of a subpunch-line. ✩ committee first for a year, and then the
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The Dynamic Duo
As The Necessary Stage turns 20, MICHELLE BONG catches up with founders Alvin Tan and Haresh Sharma to get their insights on the local theatre company’s success and birthday wishes for the future.
hen artistic director Alvin Tan and playwright Haresh Sharma formed The Necessary Stage (TNS) back in 1987, they did so “without much thought of the future”. To begin with, the path has been anything but smooth. There’ve been controversial productions. Most notably Off Centre, a play about mental disorders nearly couldn’t be staged because it was deemed to cast the Ministries of Defence and Education in a negative light. Then there was a dark period in 1994, one which Tan calls “the most horrible period of our career”. In a Straits Times article, TNS was accused of using theatre as a political tool to effect social change. This followed Tan and Sharma’s visit to New York to attend forum theatre workshops by the Brecht Forum, a Marxist cultural and public education organisation whose founder famously declared that all theatre was necessarily political and a “very efficient tool for liberation”. Tan recalls it “was a trying period” though, in the end, it all worked out. Professor Tommy Koh, the then Chairman of the National Arts Council, wrote a letter to the forum page stating that TNS still had the Council’s support, while the TNS board of directors echoed the stance. When the going got tough, it never occurred to either Tan or Sharma to throw in the towel. Sharma says matter-of-factly, “I’ve never had the urge to. At most, I wanted to air the towel or lie on it to get a nice tan! No job is easy regardless of which occupation you have. I don’t think having a career in the arts is any different.” Today, Tan and Sharma have every reason to be pleased with their efforts. In the face of huge odds, TNS has scored
to date, the play has been staged in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo. Tan believes that the social services sector, with whom arts companies like TNS constantly compete for funds, “do need more help to become entrepreneurial whereas the arts groups, in being brought up to not rely so heavily on government’s grants, have found ways to be sustainable. The arts groups are, and can be, more competitive than the NPOs from the social service sector.” Sharma and This harmonious mix of financial several successes including the Haresh Alvin Tan of TNS. smarts and creativity stands TNS in selection of Off Centre as the first Singaporean play to be literature text good stead in the years to come. For now, as the company celebrates its 20th annifor the GCE ‘O’ and ‘N’ levels, as well as versary, Sharma has a couple of birthday TNS’ strong reputation as the company wishes: one is that more people appreciate helming the annual M1 Singapore Fringe the arts for what it is and can do, as opposed Festival. Asked about the reasons behind to how much money it can make or how the company’s success, Tan cites one of glamorous it can be. The second is that them to be Sharma’s strengths “both as an more people give respect to Singaporean artist and an astute administrator” who artists instead of comparing them to interkeeps direct watch over the coffers so national ones, and that Singaporean arts finances are always managed. Tan credits and artists be taught at all primary schools. Sharma’s “financial acumen as a major creative factor why we still exist despite creating non-commercial work. We practically ‘fundraise’ for all our projects, manage costs and take on external projects to afford our idealism.” Case in point was Sharma’s recent Till then, TNS looks ahead to the unrelenting efforts to source for funding creation of more intercultural and while pressing ahead and securing the interdisciplinary works, buoyed by what talents of nine performers, two directors and four playwrights for TNS’ inter-cultural Sharma describes as a vibrant theatre scene. He adds, “I’m grateful for the work Mobile, about migrant workers and public who believe in and support the mobility of Asians today. Undaunted, Singapore theatre and arts. I strongly he sent out funding proposal after funding believe there is an audience ready and proposal to numerous local and internawilling to be challenged.” Here’s to tional funding agencies. Japan’s Saison another 20 good years. ✩ Foundation came through with aid, and
“ When the going got tough, it never occurred to either Tan or Sharma to throw in the towel.”
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Keppel Corporation’s CSR thrust has been underpinned by its philosophy of valuing its people MICHELLE BONG finds out more.
s one of Singapore’s biggest MNCs with the sectors of offshore and marine, property and infrastructure as its key business areas, Keppel Corporation’s success has been built on the proverbial Holy Grail of successful conglomerates: enduring relationships, successful businesses and synergistic opportunities. And in the arena of corporate social responsibility, Keppel shines just as brightly. To date, it has raised money for the Singapore Red Cross Society’s Indonesian Disaster Relief Fund, participated in the Yellow Ribbon Job Fair in March 2006 and short listed 23 inmates as potential employees after their rehabilitation, sponsored $50,000 towards last year’s National Day celebrations, and was a key sponsor of the 119 year-old National Museum of Singapore’s opening festival in December 2006. Keppel’s history of CSR practices can be traced back significantly to October 2000 when it set up the Keppel Volunteers Programme (KVP) and adopted the Association of Persons with Special Needs (APSN) on an ongoing basis. A groupwide programme, KVP is a strategic tool through which staff members, known as “Keppelites”, give back to the community.
“ Without people, there is no future growth; without resource preservation, there will be no next generation.” In line with its philosophy of providing financial support while playing an active role in the development of APSN students, Keppelites visit the schools regularly and help out in weekly activities such as social competence excursions that familiarise the students with the public transport
Says Chan Soo Sen, Director (Chairman’s Office), “These initiatives were carried out in the last year or so, and have not been without their share of challenges. As a publiclylisted company, Keppel has to be accountable to its shareholders, Launching Singapore’s first system and cooking coral nursery on 30 July 2007. to convince them of our vision and bring them along. For us, it’s always classes. Keppelites also about looking for a win-win situation; organise special events that aim to help we want to be successful in both a business APSN students assimilate into society, sense and yet be relevant to the commuincluding the annual APSN-GEP nity.” Chan further explains that like a (Association of Persons with Special business, its employees want to grow and Needs – Gifted Education Programme) discover themselves. As he puts it, “We all Games Day which has brought together want to be given opportunities to push children with special needs and the gifted the boundaries of excellence.” to interact, and learn from one another. At the core of these efforts is Keppel’s More recent initiatives include the touchstone: an unwavering commitment setting up of a safety board to provide to valuing its people. Chan explains that reports of safety statistics from the Group’s this process requires Keppel’s commitment businesses. Keppel has also collaborated to providing staff with “a good working with the Practice Performing Arts School environment, and we pride ourselves on to offer the teaching of performing arts, being a good employer. At the same time, as a form of art therapy, to students of we realise the potential of not just people Chao Yang School, one of six schools but also resources, and so we support under the APSN umbrella. environmental programmes. Without In addition, Keppel’s efforts to go people, there is no future growth; green have translated into two meaningful without resource preservation, there will collaborations. It is the first private organbe no next generation. This is something isation to step forward to support the we believe in, and want to do our part National Environment Agency’s (NEA) in providing support for the Ministry of “Bring Your Own Bag Day” programme Environment’s efforts.” through the sponsorship of 100,000 On 27 November 2002, the Keppel “Colour Your Future Green” re-usable Group’s community efforts were recoggrocery shopping bags to NTUC Fairprice nised with the prestigious Outstanding shoppers. Keppel has also entered a Corporate Volunteer of the Year award joint partnership with the National Parks given by the National Volunteer & PhilanBoard, the NEA and the National Univerthropy Centre. At the rate it is going to sity of Singapore to launch Singapore’s underline its commitment to benefiting first coral nursery off Pulau Semakau. the communities in which it operates, A significant milestone in Singapore’s it will not be surprising, going forward, marine conservation efforts, the two-year that its haul of awards is not limited to project aims to grow as many hard coral those given by the business world. ✩ fragments as possible.
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SALTS HAK ERS&MOVERS
Ship to Shore
As NVPC’s chairman calls it a day, it’s time to take stock of the organisation and the course ahead for the charity and philanthropy sector. ANDREW DUFFY sets sail one more time with Kwek Siew Jin.
ith NVPC’s last chairman, it’s easy to turn to nautical metaphors. Rear-Admiral (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin runs a tight ship; he leaves the NVPC all ship-shape; he’s steered a true course – you get the idea. But a more apt metaphor does not come from his days as Chief of the Navy in the mid-Nineties. It comes from dry land, as Rear-Adm Kwek, 57, is an avid walker. It’s not that he strolls through life. But it does flavour his approach to things. Neither fast nor flashy, Rear-Adm Kwek takes time to consider what is around him. On his weekly 20km walks around the island’s parks and connectors, he pauses with his Nikon D200 to snap the wildlife, the scenery, anything that takes his fancy. And he takes the time to chat to his half-dozen walking buddies. “At the end of the day, my throat is more tired than my body,” he said, “because we talk and laugh so much.” Taking life as it comes, the group meets on Friday morning at Ghim Moh hawker centre, and ask each other “Where shall we go today?” They walk for six or seven hours, and then home. It’s an inclusive, non-competitive activity that captures Rear-Adm Kwek perfectly. As a manager, he has always preferred to work through and with other people. “I don’t believe a person can do everything by himself,” he said. “My belief is that management in all departments must know everything about the company, and workers must be able to share and work with each other, not just look after his own department.
At this point, the nautical metaphors make sense. “My first feeling was that it would blow over, but that things would be bad for a while for the charity sector because of the bad publicity” he said. “But what happened was beyond my expectations.” It meant that NVPC had a much bigger role to play, RADM (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin interThat comes from his and he got behind the message acting with beneficiaries at the seafaring days, as Rear-Adm NCSS’ Christmas Light-Up 2007. to donors that this was just Kwek acknowledges. “In the Navy espeone isolated incident – a squall in an cially, on board a ship everyone has a very otherwise calm sea – and that they had to important role, even the cook. Not everyone continue to give, as the other NPOs still can maintain the engines or the guns. needed their support. To the NPOs, the All have a role and all must do their best message was that they also needed to do for the ship to perform well.” their part, to tell donors what the money In a battle, it can be a question of life was for and to be more transparent. and death. Even in peacetime, the sea is dangerous, “It’s either your enemy or your friend. It can be rough out there!” he said. So, at a big-picture level, Rear-Adm Kwek likes to bring people along with him, so that everyone knows what is happening even as they have different roles. He also makes a point to ask for contributions and suggestions. That way, people can say “this is our project”, so he does not really have to be there to push them. “I like to have people with different makeups in a team, to get different views, More squalls in the shape of SAVH and take them all into consideration before and Youth Challenge, and in June 2007, making a decision,” he said. the St John’s Home for Elderly Persons He himself was faced with some have left the charity ship a little more decisions soon after he took the helm of storm-battered than he had expected. the NVPC in 2005 and the NKF situaIt all led to the greater focus on tion blew up. promoting informed giving to the public,
“ My belief is that management in all departments must know everything about the company, and workers must be able to share and work with each other, not just look after his own department.”
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greater transparency and accountability for the charity sector and the Board Match programme, among other initiatives taken to restore the public’s trust. Rear-Adm Kwek sees it as his role to take the long view with a weather eye on the distant horizon and the stars, rather than keep his eyes on the compass all the time. “The chairman’s duty is to make sure the organisation moves in line with its vision and mission, to help form that vision and mission and to review it to make sure it is still relevant,” he said. The principle is firm that the CEO and the staff should be the ones who run any organisation, not the chairman. “You can see if the trend is going in the right direction, but I don’t set way markers.” The big picture at the moment, he believes, looks positive. Apart from the volunteering rate which has crept up steadily from 14.9% in 2002 to 15.5% in 2006, volunteering hours, as an indicator of how the wind is blowing, are up, from an average 4.4 hours per week in 2004 to 7.5 hours in 2006. Occasional volunteering was up from 16.6 hours a year in 2004 to 24.3 hours by 2006. “Charitable giving, too, has not dropped in spite of all that has happened,” he pointed out, after the post-NKF dip. Figures from the Inland Revenue Authority show that donations to IPCs went up from $475 million in 2004 to $535 million in 2006. On the other hand, demand for VWO help is up, and not just because the population is increasing. “Demand is increasing, and we are really seeing more people who need help,” he said. “Now there are different kinds of problems, so for example more children are diagnosed with dyslexia and autism and given help, while in the past we didn’t have that luxury and they just dropped out of school. We also provide a better quality of care than in the past, such as better nursing homes for the elderly, for example.” He also sees that there is less family and neighbourly support generally, and
that the old kampong spirit has eroded, something that NVPC is also trying to address in its upcoming programmes. And yet, while keeping the bigpicture in mind, Rear-Adm Kwek takes pleasure in small things, too. “I look for little victories,” he said. “I don’t need for there to be a big hoorah, but when I read about VWOs doing well, I feel happy.”
“The chairman’s duty is to make sure the organisation moves in line with its vision and mission, to help form that vision and mission and to review it to make sure it is still relevant.” He was involved in charity work while in the Navy, as units’ officers and men would adopt perhaps an old people’s home or some other organisation for a year and visit to help run it, cut hair, paint walls, he said. It also raised funds for the ComChest, as well as the NKF. He launched his career in the charity sector when he retired from the Navy in 1996, and was approached by the Students Care Service, where he was Chairman till 2006. Being involved at SCS led him to a new career in volunteering. “I found it very enjoyable working with social workers. People in this sector are very passionate, and find a lot of joy in what they do,” he said. Last year, he received the Public Service Medal for social service. He has also been President of the National Council of Social Service since 2006, and has seen major progress in his time there. In 2006/7, for example, NCSS implemented 15 new services to address service gaps, while its training arm the Social Services Training Institute organised 155 training programmes and filled nearly 4,000 training places.
And – closer to the water – he is President of the Singapore Dragon Boat Association, “but in a non-executive role. I don’t row!” he said. His wife, Yvonne, is now also retired and is devoting her time to volunteer work at a couple of after-school care centres, while his son Benjamin studies in Australia and his daughter Jeanette works for Mindef. Rear-Adm Kwek’s own career took him from the Navy to President of SMRT in 1996 and later of Singapore Power in 2002. At the latter , he was involved in corporate sponsorship of the Society for the Physically Disabled, raising $900,000 to build and fund an ability therapy centre for two years. While he was President of SMRT, a group of disabled people in wheelchairs was taken on a special train ride right round the line to raise funds for ComChest. “They were very happy because it was the first time they had experienced a train ride,” he smiled. And there was walking, naturally, as his team raised funds through a sponsored walk along MRT tunnels at midnight, and also funds for the President’s Challenge through a public walk between EXPO and Changi Airport stations. So even if Rear-Adm Kwek has dwelled in the upper reaches of the professional world, all his work has kept him firmly in touch with the people on the ground. “I’ve always worked with people,” he said. “In the Navy you have several thousands people, and in Singapore Power and SMRT we also have the whole range of people.” He still takes his time, and still travels mostly by MRT, where he is often recognised in the stations. But when he doesn’t always walk or take the MRT, and there are a few perks of a successful professional life, including a sporty Mazda RX8 in the garage at home – for the days when he doesn’t feel like walking. ✩
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The Second Philanthropic Revolution In his focus on mega-philanthropy, WILLIE CHENG observes how the new philanthropists are following – and not following – the advice and example of Andrew Carnegie.
he problem of our age,” reflected Andrew Carnegie, pioneer of modern philanthropy, in his enduring 1889 essay, The Gospel of Wealth, “is the proper administration of wealth.” In Carnegie’s view, “the true antidote for the temporary unequal distribution of wealth” was for the rich to distribute it for the common good during their lifetimes. In line with this philosophy, Carnegie applied himself diligently, giving away all his fortune.
The First Revolution Up to the early 1900s, philanthropy had been mainly about localised giving to the needy. Carnegie and his contemporary, John D. Rockefeller, oil tycoon and often regarded as the richest man in history, started a philanthropic revolution by creating foundations with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.
“ What is fueling this golden age of philanthropy? Perhaps it is the mega giving that has captured the headlines of recent years.” They also changed the nature of philanthropy from alms giving to organised philanthropy that is professionally managed to make a broader impact in their communities. They built and invested in institutions such as libraries, schools and research organisations. Since then, this kind of philanthropic
giving has grown steadily, especially in the U.S. Foundations, the vehicles through which many of the wealthy channel their giving, has increased from 505 holding about US$1.8 billion in assets in 1944 to more than 71,000 foundations with US$550 billion in assets in 2005. Still, the annual grants of more than US$36 billion the foundations give only represents about 12% of total philanthropic giving in the U.S. (about US$295 billion in 2006). Much of the growth in foundations has been in the last decade, with a doubling of the number of foundations and more than a doubling of foundation assets. So much so that many observers are calling these last few years a golden age of philanthropy. Competitive Philanthropy What is fueling this golden age of philanthropy? Perhaps it is the mega
giving that has captured the headlines of recent years. In a way, this phenomenon could be traced to 1997 when Ted Turner, the media mogul who founded CNN, threw down the gauntlet with a dramatic billion dollar pledge to the United Nations. Turner openly challenged his fellow wealthy “skinflints” to “open their purse strings” wider. Turner suggested that instead of just fighting to be at the top of Forbes list of the world’s richest men, the wealthy should just give a billion dollars each and move down the rankings accordingly. His remarks prompted Slate, the influential online magazine, to start an annual listing of top donors which, in turn, sparked off more media coverage of philanthropy. Three years later, Bill Gates pumped a staggering US$16.5 billion into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2006, Warren Buffet made a stunning announcement that he was going to
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inject over US$30 billion into the Gates Foundation which, by then, was already the world’s largest by far with US$30 billion in assets. Over the last decade, several members of the world’s mega rich, led by the Americans, have set up foundations. A significant number seems to come from those who prospered with the surge in the information technology industry. For example, Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay and Jeff Skoll, the first President eBay set up the Omidyar Foundation (later the Omidyar Network) and Skoll Foundation with their share of money from the public listing of eBay. More recently, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google.org as its philanthropic wing with a starting fund of US$1 billion. Other philanthropists have come from more traditional industries such as finance. Notably, George Soros, the billionaire investor who started the Quantum Fund, is an active philanthropist. To date, he has given away US$4 billion through the Soros Foundation and the Open Society Institute.
“ Today’s philanthropists, while building on the traditional vehicles of giving, are not content with cheque-book writing and ribbon cutting exercises.” The gifts of many of the other philanthropists may not have been of the size of Gates and Buffet’s, but they are still in the millions, hundreds of millions – more than small change for us mere mortals. Just as in the first philanthropic revolution, much of the big giving in the current era came out of the U.S. However, in recent years, the wealthy outside the U.S. are noticing the American example and following suit. Sir Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur and chairman of the Virgin Group, jumped on board in September 2006 with a pledge of some US$3 billion from the profits of his Virgin airline and
train operations over the next decade to combat global warming. In May 2006, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, pumped in US$10 billion to set up his own educational foundation with the objective of increasing education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East. Over in this region, Li Ka-Shing, Asia’s richest industrialist, pledged in August 2006 to give away one third of his fortune, a gift then estimated at US$18.9 billion, to his charitable Li Ka-Shing Foundation, which had already given away grants of nearly US$1 billion. Second Revolution But is this enough? For there are some who argue that these endowments, large as they are, do not really dwarf those of the early philanthropists. Put in context, the US$350 million and US$530 million that Carnegie and Rockefeller gave respectively in their lifetimes is worth more than US$3 billion and US$6 billion in today’s dollars (adjusted for inflation). More significantly, the global economy has grown. Measured as a proportion of the annual GDP of their respective eras, Carnegie’s gift is 0.44 percent, Rockefeller’s gift is 0.59 percent and Warren Buffet’s large gift of US$37 billion is only 0.3 percent – about half that of Rockefeller’s. According to Lester Salamon, Director of Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, “philanthropy is not holding up its part of the bargain” in keeping up with the growth of the economy and the accompanying societal challenges. He notes that while there has been an absolute growth of philanthropic giving, it has been outpaced by the growth of non-profit needs which are, increasingly, being funded by other sources such as government grants and service fees. That said, it should be noted that beyond the absolute size of their gifts, the new givers are changing the nature of philanthropic giving. Today’s philanthropists, while building on the traditional vehicles of giving are not contented with chequebook writing and ribbon cutting exercises.
They are engaged with their philanthropy in strikingly different ways from earlier generations of philanthropists. It is their bold and innovative approaches which have captured the imagination of many, that is stoking the second philanthropic revolution. Although there is diversity in their approaches, we can extract some common characteristics of their giving: • It’s more ambitious • It’s more capitalistic • It’s more personal • It’s more collaborative High-Impact Philanthropy The agendas of these neo-philanthropists are bold and global – nothing short of finding and implementing solutions to the world’s problems. They are taking head-on issues such as poverty and global warming that private enterprise and governments have been reluctant or unable to adequately tackle. Turner’s one billion dollars commitment to the United Nations was to address the world’s pressing problems and broaden support for the world body. Bill Gates’ push into philanthropy is to redress “the awful inequities in the world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair”. His big idea is to overcome the market failure afflicting poor consumers of health care by deploying his money on behalf of the poor to generate the supply of drugs and treatments they need. For instance, his money provides market incentives for drug companies to put some of their resources to work for the needy. The money that Gates spends is bound to make an impact. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation support global health initiatives with about US$800 million annually – this amount approaches the annual budget of the World Health Organisation. Meanwhile, many social experts believe that microfinance, pioneered by Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, is a powerful tool for economic self-empowerment of the poor in developing countries. Recognising that the sector is nascent
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and needs access to capital, Omidyar teamed up with Tufts University in 2005 to launch a microfinance fund. His donation of $100m is the largest private allocation of capital to microfinance by an individual or company. Omidyar’s goal is “to unleash at least US$1 billion in microloans to the poor throughout the world over the next decade as we make loans that are paid back and recycled.” Another area is global warming which has found increasing support among the new social entrepreneurs. Richard Branson’s initial focus on clean technologies is to produce “cellulosic” ethanol, a biofuel derived from agricultural waste and fast growing crops which produces no greenhouse-gas emissions but is not yet proved in the marketplace. One of the foundation Google.org’s maiden project is to develop an extremely fuel efficient, plug-in hybrid car engine that runs on ethanol, electricity and gasoline. Philanthro-capitalism As many of the new philanthropists are corporate highflyers and successful entrepreneurs, it is not a surprise that they seek to apply capitalistic ideas and approaches to the social arena. And not just straightforward corporate ideas of applying management discipline to planning and implementation, but sometimes going the whole hog, such as pushing the envelope of venture capital thinking. This latter approach has come to be known as “venture philanthropy”. The venture model was initially posited in the landmark 1997 Harvard Business Review article, “Virtuous Capital: What Foundations Can Learn from Venture Capitalists”. The authors, Letts, Ryan and Grossman contended that traditional philanthropy with its lackluster performance would benefit from the infusion of venture capital techniques such as adopting performance measures, placing fewer but larger bets on chosen organisations, engaging them closely to produce results, and exiting at the appropriate time. There are now several hundred venture philanthropy groups active in the U.S. and some in Europe. The largest
group is Social Venture Partners based in Seattle with affiliates in 23 U.S. cities. With more than 1,700 individual partners, the network has benefited more than 250 non-profit organisations with grants and “countless hours of volunteer time.
“ Social venture capitalists take a more direct handson role as an owner with shared responsibilities in socially positive ventures.” In taking a capitalistic approach, the line between profit and non-profit organisations is blurring. The Omidyar Network for example has two funds: a fund to make for-profit investments and another for philanthropic donations. The “investment team” – whose main criterion is whether the investment will further the social mission of the organisation – is free to put its money in either for-profit or non-profit projects. The foundation, Google.org shuns nonprofit status. It will pay taxes on any profits, but this also enables the foundation to fund startup companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. Page & Brin have promised shareholders that they will make a social impact that will eventually “eclipse Google itself” by tackling the world’s problems. Branson’s Virgin Fuel, which was set up to tackle climate change, is a regular enterprise that seeks “to do good through good investments”, but it will be funded through donations from Branson’s share of his profits from his other ventures. In a sense, both Branson and Google have taken the view that the best way to accelerate the development of green technology is to let normal market competition dynamics work – but they will help jumpstart the process with an initial capital injection and reinvest any profits made. High-Engagement Philanthropy The new rich do not seek to solve problems just by throwing money at causes. They want to make sure that their money is properly used so they want to be involved
in it. Bill Gates said that you have to work as hard at giving away your money as you do making it. Many of the newcomers especially the dot-comers are much younger; they are in their 30s and 40s, compared to the pioneer industrialists who started in their 60s. Being young, they want to give their time and youthful energy to mentor, guide and direct those they give money to. This certainly applies to the venture philanthropists. Central to the venture model is the notion of treating funding as an investment with expectations of (social) return on investment, operating efficiencies and management oversight. Social venture capitalists take a more direct hands-on role as an owner with shared responsibilities in socially positive ventures. This is in contrast to the traditional concept of a charitable grant which is hands-off and viewed as more of an outright gift. The focus areas of the new philanthropists usually reflect their personal interests and their methods often leverage their talents. George Soros, an immigrant to the U.S – influenced by his early experiences of Nazi and Communist rule and the writings of the philosopher Karl Popper (author of “The Open Society and Its Enemies”) – campaigns for socio-political change in more than 60 countries especially those in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He has authored or co-authored several books on the subject of open societies. The organisations he has created and funds seek to free political prisoners from life-long confinement in state institutions, win release for prisoners held without legal grounds, halt the spread of TB and AIDS, create open debate, and promote freedom of the press. Among his many talents, Jeff Skoll is also a movie producer. His Participant Productions, a media company that funds feature films and documentaries that promote social values while being commercially viable, produced the Oscar winner An Inconvenient Truth, a movie which has been credited with raising awareness of global warming.
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Network Philanthropy Aggregation of philanthropic resources took place with the creation of community foundations. A community foundation allows mid-tier donors to essentially create their own “foundations” (or donor-advised funds) within a larger foundation on a very cost-effective basis. The first community foundation was setup in Cleveland in 1914. Today, there are more than 700 community foundations in the U.S. and about 1,000 around the world. However, each foundation – whether community or not – has traditionally tended to work on its own programs and processed its grants individually. While multiple foundations may co-fund the same cause, this has traditionally resulted from fund-seeking on the part of the grantees. But as foundations become more proactive and ambitious in their quests for social change, they are also looking at new ways to collaborate. They are forming partnerships, not just with each other, but commercial partners, governments and other non-profits. Even the world’s largest foundations are collaborating to deal with the enormity of their causes. The Rockefeller Foundation teamed up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in an Alliance for a Green Revolution to alleviate hunger and improve agriculture in Africa. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which has enough money to go on its own in any project emphasises effective multi-sector collaborations. It has crafted a series of incentive-based investment partnerships such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. About 80 percent of the foundation’s grantmaking in the area of global health is undertaken with strategic partners. Networks are being formed to leverage money and experience. Peggy Rockefeller Dulany’s Global Philanthropists Circle brings together about 50 super-rich families from 20 countries to exchange ideas and experiences, and tap into spheres of connections and influence, mainly with a view to finding solutions to international poverty and inequality.
Where We are in Singapore The U.S, leads the world in its generosity and innovative approaches to giving. Singapore, like most other countries, lags behind although there are signs that we are taking heed of American developments. For decades now, the Lee Foundation, the Shaw Foundation, the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation and the Lien Foundation have been at the helm of philanthropic giving in Singapore. Among them, the Lee Foundation stands out for the size of its giving, some S$600 million to date), much of it to educational causes. These foundations are now being managed by the second and third generation of family members. A few of these family foundations are moving to modernise themselves. Leading the pack is the Lien Foundation with its philosophy of “radical philanthropy”. It has sought to break new ground by proactively forging strategic partnerships and catalysing action on social and environmental challenges. It has been a leader in professionalising grant making and has championed such causes as the dying, dementia patients and social innovation. Meanwhile, we wait for the emergence of another Lee Kong Chian or a Bill Gates (on a proportionate basis) from the new super-rich of today. Next Evolutionary Steps Where is this second philanthropic revolution taking the world to? First, the hopes are high. There is the potential of the size of giving and its implications.
“ ... if the present rate of mega giving snowballs, the amount of money and impact would be awesome.” So far, only a few billionaires have stepped up. But if the present rate of mega giving snowballs, the amount of money and impact would be awesome. There are 950 billionaires on Forbes List with a total estimated worth of US$3.5 trillion.
That is about more than 6 times the total asset base of foundations in the U.S. According to Jeff Sachs, special adviser to the UN Secretary General, “An annual 5 per cent ‘foundation’ payout’ from these billionaires, amounting to $175bn,” would lift Africa out of poverty obviating the need for aid from the G8 leading nations – aid which has not been forthcoming. But poverty in Africa is only a small fraction of the world’s problems and that does not leave much else on the table for other needs. The fact is that government funding is going to continue to be needed and philanthropic giving will not be able to fully replace it. For example, social welfare spending in the U.S. is 18% of GDP in contrast to just over 2% of GDP for total philanthropic giving. Secondly, the new innovative approaches of the new breed of philanthropists take their cue from the business world. In the long run, will, or should, business and charity converge into one seamless world? Thirdly, the increasing amounts and visibility of mega giving creates concerns of accountability for these institutions. In the same way that foundations are demanding accountability of their grantees, lawmakers and the public are asking for measurable results, while questioning unjustifiably high administration costs of the foundations. Indeed, the U.S. Congress is showing increased interest in foundations, and new tough laws that will “dramatically transform the relationship between the federal government and foundations” have been proposed. But in the end, when you get past the targets, the methods and the scale of the giving of the neo-philanthropists, the broad intent of their giving – as many of the philanthropists have articulated – have remained largely the same: benefiting society and humankind. Or perhaps, they are simply heeding Andrew Carnegie’s message: “The man who dies leaving behind many millions of available wealth will pass away unwept, unhonored, and unsung... The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.” ✩
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Maintaining the Motivation Keeping your volunteers motivated is a delicate balancing act. MARTIN J COWLING shares some valuable insights into the process. BY
MARTIN J COWLING CEO P EOPLE F I RST -TOTAL S OLUTIONS
Salt and pepper shakers from a private collection.
remember once arriving early for my meeting at a hospital. The volunteer I met in the foyer was warm, friendly, welcoming, helpful and passionate about her job. Though I spent less than two minutes with her, the encounter left me feeling very positive about that hospital. It was clearly motivated to do their welcoming job as effectively as it could. Universally, volunteers who are positively motivated will provide more of their time; give freely of their knowledge and ideas; are more generous financial donors; volunteer for other causes; stay longer; and speak highly of the organisation. Indeed, when we engage our volunteers, we want to ensure that we are building and maintaining their motivation. The three keys to ensuring this are:
1. Good Matching There are organisations that still grab and place volunteers into roles simply because there is a fear that they might “lose” the volunteer otherwise. This approach means that the organisation and the volunteer can miss out on a potentially dynamic relationship. First up, when matching organisational volunteer needs with volunteer, we need to know three things: • Why does the volunteer want to volunteer with us? • What skills are they bringing and can we use them? • What are they actually interested in doing? In our application process, we need to find these three things out. We can do this through the information about the role, on the application form and if we
use an interview (depending on the role). If we do not believe that we can offer a volunteer a role or an opportunity that matches his needs, then do not engage him. For example, many people are attracted to volunteer in some organisations because they think this will bring them guaranteed employment.
“ Volunteers who are positively motivated will provide more of their time, and give freely of their knowledge and ideas.” Under no circumstances should organisations employ what I call the “bait and switch” approach. That is, they attract volunteers with the promise of a fun or glamorous role when the reality is they are doing a more mundane or even dull job. For example, the animal shelter that promises contact with animals when, in reality, the role is stapling papers. Many organisations are excellent at performing an initial match, but we also need to make sure we are checking in with volunteers to see that we continue to match their needs through their experience. People change, and their motivations, skills and interests will change too. 2. Clear Support As volunteer programme managers, we need to aim to offer three kinds of support. The first is that the volunteer knows what her job is. In research conducted in 2000 by Hinds Workforce Research and AFS Australia, volunteers who understood their roles were three times more motivated than those who did not understand their role. How many volunteers have become frustrated because they do not know or understand
what their goals and tasks are? The second is that the volunteer should have someone who is there to show her what to do when she needs it. This means being ready when the volunteer arrives, having resources or tool kits or advice she can access quickly. And finally, when something goes wrong, what support does the volunteer have access to and does she know it? At one organisation I was involved with, we had a counsellor who was available to volunteers for no charge to assist with difficult situations they might encounter in their work. The service was not extensively utilised by the volunteers, but the knowledge that it was there should they need it was an attraction. 3. Showing Gratitude Fundamentally, we all like to think that what we have done in the world has been noticed. How this occurs will differ from person to person, and culture to culture. The two things that do not vary are, first, that it must occur; and secondly, it must be appropriate to the volunteer and his context. Many organisations spend money on recognition events and resources when a simple “thank you” is all that is being looked for. My experience of my visit to that hospital would have been very different had that welcoming volunteer not been matched, supported and thanked well. Getting this right will ensure you meet your goals, give volunteers a good experience and attract more volunteers. ✩ The author is one of Australia’s leading consultants on volunteer management. He has worked with commercial and not for profit organisations for almost twenty years. Currently CEO of People First Total Solutions, Martin works regularly with individuals and organisations in the US, UK and Australia on areas connected with not for profit management, staff motivation, effective volunteer management and constructive personal development.
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A Winning Attitude JACK SIM says you must never start solving a problem with a defensive mind-set. Believe you can win. And you will.
aced with a formidable task, we often ask ourselves, “Can I succeed?” or “What if I fail?” When you ask these wrong questions, you’ll get the wrong answers. If you believe you can win, you’ll make it easier to solve even the biggest problem. Start with a strong mental picture of the end result: You’ve won, the joy you feel, smiling faces of people around you, and the sweet smell of success. The more you keep thinking about it, the clearer the image resolution becomes, every day, every moment. Obsess for success and you’ll complete the journey because you’ve decided to win from Day One. I learnt this paradigm from David Green. I recently met this amazing social entrepreneur who’s had great success financing eye care, cataract removal and curing blindness. He’s made eye operations affordable to all. And for those who can’t afford it, it’s free (financed through cross-subsidies from paying customers). He reduced the cost of intraocular lenses from US$150 to US$2 each! He partnered Aravind Eye Hospital in India to perform 250,000 eye operations last year and he is expanding into hearing aids with the same low cost philosophy. I wanted to copy his approach to bring safe sanitation to the 2.6 billion toilet-less people in the world. He advised me not to rely on donors as a primary support. I had to drive the cost of proper sanitation technologies down to a level that the poor are willing to buy. And I had to sustain the operation by running at a financial surplus each year. In particular, he said, “You must ask, ‘Under what conditions will the poor be able to buy sanitation?’ Answer that question and you’ll know how to do it.” I started to list the conditions: driving
demand to create a social trend where homes with toilets are seen as higher status than those homes without; getting grand economies of scale with plastic injection mouldings using recycled plastic, cut packaging, and then distribute through locals. But I was concerned that despite doing everything, the cost was still beyond their means. David’s answer? “You can’t even think that way. You have to believe you are going to make it happen because people are dying every day because of contaminated water. You want to stop the suffering, so you must be driven by your mission. Imagine your project is now successful. What were the factors that brought about the desired result? It must happen.” This was my break-through moment. I’d never thought of problem solution like that. I started thinking deeper, beyond the cost of the product itself: What if I collaborated with microcredit NGOs to make sanitation affordable with instalment payments? I could bundle micro-credit interest loans with products, effectively halving the operating overheads. And instead of bringing in foreign experts to villages as consultants to survey, design and set up local sanitation systems,
I could partner with a software company to capture all this expertise and simplify it into a comprehensive (cheaply duplicated and distributed) software which the villagers could use to self-train and self-help. Other ideas started flowing. I could train locals to become entrepreneurs and transfer to them the job of promoting and selling, installation and maintenance of the toilets. After all, only a market-based economy can be sustainable. I could attach ads to the toilets and earn advertising revenue. Or I could enlist partners who were knowledgeable in sanitation to brainstorm new innovations, and solutions. Or bring in manufacturers, banks and services vendors to tender: 2.6 billion customers strong bargaining power!
“ Imagine your project is now successful. What were the factors that brought about the desired result? It must happen.” As I continued to practise this form of thinking, I felt more in control of the dream as my mind dived into every aspect of the problem in great detail. After that mentoring session with David, I was both empowered and humbled. All I’d needed to do was to switch my mind into a positive mode. The power of focus cut through all barriers like a laser beam. I felt a new sense of freedom with the increased bandwidth. I am starting the World Sanitation Fund Project now. ✩ Jack Sim is the founder of the World Toilet Organisation, World Toilet Congress and the Restroom Association of Singapore. He was also Singapore’s inaugural Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005.
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SCENE&SEEN President S R Nathan, Niam Chiang Meng, Quek Bin Hwee.
Stanley Tan, President S R Nathan, David Wong, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.
The National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2007 A Celebration of Doing Good Well
Kit Chan, Tan Chee Koon.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Stanley Tan, Rear Admiral (Ret) Kwek Siew Jin.
This year’s National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards honoured seven outstanding recipients for setting excellence benchmarks in encouraging the spirit of giving in Singapore. President S R Nathan and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports presented the awards at a gala dinner on 15 November at the Marina Mandarin Singapore. Gracing the occasion were some 400 guests comprising decision-makers from the people, private, and public sectors. To enable wider participation, NVPC expanded two of the five Awards categories – the Non-profit Organisation and Corporate
President S R Nathan, Saw Phaik Hwa, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.
Citizen categories – to recognise organisations which were strong in either volunteerism or philanthropy, in addition to the overall category winner that excels in both. Now into its fourth year, the Awards were presented to the following winners: 1. New Non-profit Initiative Award Asian Film Archive 2. Innovative Fund-raising Initiative Award Inspire ‘06 – Hwa Chong Institution 3a. Outstanding Corporate Citizen Award SMRT Corporation Ltd 3b. Corporate Citizen Award for Volunteerism ABN AMRO Bank N.V.
Alan Chan, President S R Nathan, Lawrence Khong, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.
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Saw Phaik Hwa, President S R Nathan, Fang Ai Lian, Joy Balakrishnan.
7 Yuen Pak Man, Thng Shu Hui, Pierre Habib, Tan Jin Rong.
4a. Outstanding Non-profit Organisation Award TOUCH Community Services Limited 4b. Non-profit Organisation Award for Philanthropy Management YMCA of Singapore 5. Special Recognition Award Dr William Tan The night, boasting a scintillating set of performances, opened on a passionate
David Wong, Quek Bin Hwee, Laura Hwang, Liak Teng Lit.
President S R Nathan, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Khristine Quek, Peter Lye.
Volunteer flamenco dance group, BaileCante featuring Auditor-General Lim Soo Ping on guitar (right).
President S R Nathan, Albert Ching, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.
note when volunteer flamenco dance group BalieCante took to the stage. The group, featuring none other than Auditor-General Mr Lim Soo Ping on guitar, sizzled with their rendition of Garrotin. Professional musician Gilbert Bardoza then serenaded the guests, inviting song requests from the audience, and dedicated the inspirational song “You Lift Me Up” to President Nathan. The evening closed on a high, with Singapore’s own diva, Kit Chan, entrancing the audience with her soulful rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings”. But it was the Awards winners who took centre stage. In his welcoming remarks, NVPC Chairman Mr Stanley Tan noted that the evening’s celebrations were in recognition of extraordinary organisations and
individuals. He also dedicated the Awards to those who were not specifically acknowledged and paid tribute to their selfless and generous acts. “This event is particularly important as it is a timely reminder that not only do we need to do good, we actually need to do it well,” he said. Winners were presented with a specially designed trophy from Royal Selangor. Partners of the NVPC 2007 Awards included Ian Ferguson Foundation, Regency Steel Asia, Harvard Singapore Foundation and Fortis Bank SA/NV.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Dr Kenneth Paul Tan.
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HOW TO DO GOOD WELL: THE WINNERS OF THE 2007 NATIONAL VOLUNTEERISM & PHILANTHROPY AWARDS. Written by Michelle Lee
NEW NON-PROFIT INITIATIVE AWARD
ASIAN FILM ARCHIVE
nce in a while, a phenomenon occurs that proves that all it takes is one person to make a difference. In this case, the phenomenon is the Asian Film Archive and the catalyst, Tan Bee Thiam. In 2004, Tan had just returned from The NUS College in Silicon Valley, where he’d worked as an intern. There, he had watched in fascination as brilliant talents shared ideas and created dreams together. In particular, he was enthralled by the idea that people might think about what they can do together, instead of how to protect their territory. Without meaning to, he had found his philosophical touchstone. Aflame with entrepreneurial fire, he resolved to build a great, enduring organisation. The question was: what enterprise? He found the answer just as he lost something irreplaceable. Shortly after his return to Singapore, Tan discovered he had misplaced an important film he had made earlier. Discussing his loss with other local filmmakers, he discovered that they were stashing away their films under their beds and on bookshelves because there was no storage space for their films. An idea took root. He spent the next five months talking to filmmakers, film associations and government agencies about starting a local film archive. On the sixth month – the first day of 2005 – he registered Asian Film Archive as a non-profit organisation. And things began to move quickly. “Things just kept snowballing and it hasn’t stopped,” Tan says. In its first year, the Archive coaxed spon-
AFA’s Tan Bee Thiam and Miles Films’ Riri Riza providing insights at the Library@Orchard.
direction. That, and passing the torch. In 2006, sors to chip in $100,000. By 2007, sponsors were shelling out about half a million dollars. it began conducting Singapore’s first ever film literacy education workshops. By 2007, This enabled the hiring of five paid staff. The it had trained over 600 teachers. first hire was a Harvard University postFrom the start, the Archive has devoted graduate student who threw in her studies itself to saving, exploring and sharing the art in favour of a job at the Archive. From 20, of Asian cinema and to building an institute its pool of volunteers swelled to 150. that will last.“When people entrust you with And the Archive kept scoring coup after their masterpieces, you have to ensure coup. In October 2006, the Asian Film Archive that you have the ability to preserve them Collection was launched at the National forever. Also, it’s very much in our culture Library. And after persuading the National that everything is possible,” Tan adds. But Archives of Singapore to provide storage once the original vision was established, space and backend facilities, the organisation “it was very easy to make decisions. A vision quickly amassed a library of 600 Asian films. helps you decide what you should and Today, it is a haven for independent Asian filmmakers to share their creations. And this should not do and what kind of people to hire. It also helps a lot in getting things done past April, it became the youngest organiand in evaluating how well you are doing.” sation ever to be invited to join the InterFor its pioneering work done well, national Federation of Film Archives, one of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy the world’s leading film associations. Centre conferred on the Tan, now 29 and the “ A VISION HELPS body’s executive director, YOU DECIDE WHAT Archive the New Non-profit Initiative Award. chalks up the rapid strides YOU SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT DO For those seeking to made to a strategic use of AND WHAT KIND OF make a difference, Tan has resources. “We don’t need PEOPLE TO HIRE.” one simple message: Just do to have our own library, it. “I did things straight after my graduation. storage space or film vaults when we can When you want to do something, don’t partner people with these facilities.” But the most important thing the Archive think so much that it deters you. Instead, focus on how you can get it done. Then, got right, he says, was to lay down strong somehow or other, the universe conspires core values and an anchoring philosophy to make it come true.” ✩ that gives the Archive its heart, soul and
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he seven winners of the 2007 National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards could not be more different from each other. Among them: A bank, a transport operator, a volunteer welfare organisation with Christian roots that is over 100 years old and a newborn film archive organisation that has taken on the responsibility of preserving Singapore film, and along with that, Singapore’s cultural heritage. Then there is the VWO offering one of the broadest spread of social services in Singapore. The four teenagers who inspired
INNOVATIVE FUND-RAISING INITIATIVE AWARD
n 2006, four teenagers did something uncommon: they inspired 2,500 other teenagers to care about the underprivileged. Armed with seed funding of $3,000, the four recruited and spurred a troop of 2,500 fundraisers to pound the streets for four months selling teddy bears and Post-It Notes, netting a laudable $100,000 for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. Their campaign inspired other students and teachers. An art colouring competition organised by the teens drew over 25,000 entries by primary school students, while their efforts touched 10,000 secondary school students and teachers who wrote heartfelt letters with donations enclosed to the Fund. Aptly, their campaign was called ‘Inspire ‘06’. It all started in a café with a meeting between four teenagers. Edwin Tan, 19, had previously headed Inspire ‘05, which used seed money from the Citibank-YMCA Youth For Causes programme to raise funds for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund. Together with friend,
2,500 other teenagers to take to the streets week after week for four months. And not least, the marathoner who fights both the elements and his physical disability in the many brutal races he runs. Despite their dissimilarity, there is one tale they tell in common: Their triumphs in volunteerism and philanthropy did not come by accident. Together, they reveal their collective success as one founded on hard-nosed perseverance and clear vision, together with passion that lights a fire in countless others, and, importantly, a commitment to doing good well.
Recalls Thng Shu Hui, “That was when Thng Shu Hui, 19, Tan looked for two more we began shifting our focus to raising members to form a team that would lead awareness of the cause.” To achieve this, Inspire ‘06 and raise funds towards the same Inspire ‘06 asked primary and secondary cause. Over coffee, the two recruited Tan school to get their students to colour posters Jin Rong, 17 and Yuen Pak Man, 17. and write letters to the poster girl for the With $3,000 in hand from Citibank, YMCA Fund. Over 30 schools responded. and the National Youth Council’s Young “With this project, the students had to ChangeMakers scheme, the four recruited think about what they should say to this 50 other friends as volunteers. These friends, child, and so they had to think about what in turn, recruited more volunteers. The pool this child is going through,” explains Thng. of volunteers grew. “We believe everyone should have a sense of social responsibility,” “This was an opportunity for their teachers to expose their students says Tan. However, as weeks went “ WE BELIEVE EVERY- to the plight of underprivion, the initial stream of eager ONE SHOULD HAVE leged children.” A SENSE OF SOCIAL For the art competition, volunteers dried up, so the RESPONSIBILITY.” the team rented a venue, team responded with a bold catered food, judged 25,000 drawings and recruitment campaign. As Tan says, “If we invited guests to the award ceremony – didn’t have this burning passion, we would all in seven days. have given up long ago.” The team gained as much from the The teenagers began giving talks at experience as the beneficiaries and the schools to rally support. For one of these talks, participating students, reckons Thng. they enlisted Campus Superstar Ng Chee “I think the ones who benefited the most Yang to lobby for volunteers at Nanyang were ourselves and our fellow volunteers. Girls’ High School. Ng’s efforts netted 500 It was quite a feat. We learnt how to work new volunteers. They also went online to under stress. We gained in every way, from recruit, posting listings on internet forums the sense of fulfillment and achievement and created a website where volunteers can to the building of our character. An undersign up. And they sent emails to friends, taking like this strengthens determination, who in turn emailed their and reinforces the belief that nothing friends. This landed them is impossible.” several hundred signups. The National Volunteer & Philanthropy The team also Centre agreed that Inspire ‘06 was quite a convinced the principal of feat and presented the team with the InnoHwa Chong International vative Fundraising Initiative Award at the School, Mr Chung Wen 2007 National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Chee, to call off school on Awards. And as with so many inspirational the eve of National Day so that his students could stories, the ripples continue to spread beyond the accolades: Inspire ‘06 has sparked off go out on the streets to Inspire ‘07 and all four original members of canvas for Inspire ‘06. Inspire ‘06 are already mentoring the new And the money team, with an even higher fund-raising poured in. By the second target of $300,000 in mind. ✩ month, the team had met its target of $50,000.
The Inspire’06 Team. Sep-Dec 2007 S A LT •
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OUTSTANDING CORPORATE CITIZEN AWARD
somebody else. But to turn that inclination colleagues and create a into action, you must, first, awaken that feel-good contagion. And at inclination and, second, give people all the regular tea sessions, SMRT’s opportunity and support to do good. At vice presidents share the SMRT, we have been successful in this.” corporation’s values with So successful, in fact, that the National new recruits to ensure they Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre conferred buy into its vision. on SMRT its Outstanding Corporate Citizen The impact of this wider concern is considerable. Previously, when volunteering Award at the National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2007. For SMRT, the was a top-down affair, participation was award is just the icing on the cake. The real low. By 2007, however, 90% of the staff of reward is a new pride among the staff. SMRT was donating their time or money “An organisation can be just nuts to charity causes, with 1,800 engaged in and bolts,” says Saw. “Or it organising events. can be about how people Saw says, “Every project “ AS AN ORGANISATION, WE HAVE feel about themselves and now, our staff come up with DISCOVERED WHAT their organisation. Before, great ideas, such as the ‘SMRT WE CAN DO AND their job may have been Challenge’, a race styled after WHAT WE ARE AS ‘The Amazing Race’. The staff AN ORGANISATION. just a job, but now our AS A RESULT WE organise their own time to HAVE GAINED A LOT staff feel a lot of pride in, and identification with, collect more money. If we IN THE JOURNEY.” the values the company need anything, we just have to ask and people will be there. Every event stands for. As an organisation, we have discovered what we can do and what we has them wanting to do more. I believe in are as an organisation. As a result we have every one of us there is a sense of decency, gained a lot in the journey.” ✩ a sense that one should do something for
hen SMRT Corporation speaks of its vision of ‘Moving People, Enhancing Lives’, the public transport giant is not just referring to better transportation of people better; it is also talking about inspiring its staff and members of the public to make a difference socially. Propelled by that vision, the provider of bus, rail, taxi and other transport services to millions of commuters has embarked on a journey of its own – a journey to selfdiscovery through volunteerism. The story begins in 2004 when SMRT decided to forge a new corporate vision for itself, its customers and all 5,400 employees. This eventually crystallised into its current slogan, ‘Moving People, Enhancing Lives’. As part of this new vision, the corporation created an SMRT Corporate Volunteerism Programme to allow its staff an opportunity to volunteer their time and skills. It also adopted the Geylang East Home for the Aged, Singapore Red Cross Society and Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centres. “We started to define the things we wanted to do and how to do them,” says Saw Phaik Hwa, President and CEO of SMRT Corporation. “And this is a vision our staff created.” The question then arose: once the vision has been created, how do you bring it to reality? SMRT’s answer was: Communicate, communicate and communicate. However, Saw points out it’s not as simplistic as sending out an email.“It is about touching the staff through your own personal involvement. Each project, we go out and communicate to our staff what we want to do and why we want to do it.” An example is the SMRT Silver Tribute Fund, a fundraiser for the needy elderly. Says Saw,“For the fund, five of us from across the organisation with experience in corporate social responsibility work sat down with the staff in a big auditorium and spoke about our own experiences. It’s important for people to share experiences. I revealed my own very personal experience with aging. People were touched and they began to believe in the project and they committed themselves to it.” And so, every programme has its own staff champions who “infect” their
SMRT’s donation drive for their Silver Tribute Fund.
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CORPORATE CITIZEN AWARD FOR VOLUNTEERISM
ABN AMRO BANK N.V.
t ABN AMRO, volunteering is not all talk. One in four employees is an active volunteer, working with challenged youths in projects that they conceptualise and put together themselves. And the bank supports their work. The staff is given one day’s paid leave to participate in any volunteer activity of their choice. The bank throws an appreciation dinner after major volunteer events. Volunteers are conferred awards. And at the start of each year, the bank organises an Opportunity Day, inviting voluntary welfare organisations and current staff volunteers to speak: staff are then invited to sign up for volunteer projects of their choice, based on their interests. “Everyone says they want to give back to society, but do they, in fact, walk the talk?” asks David Wong, the managing director and chief executive of ABN AMRO Bank N.V. for South East Asia. “Do you get your hands dirty? Does your corporate culture and infrastructure help make that happen? If you ingrain corporate social responsibility in your business, your staff will care.” The journey to caring for ABN AMRO started in 2001 when it launched its Opportunity Programme. Over the past six years, the bank has developed multiple programmes aimed at the holistic development of youths, to help youths in different areas of their life. This year, the bank decided to take a more strategic approach to community work by partnering a single welfare organisation, Students Care Service in conjunction with NVPC’s Comcare Connection initiative. The focus: arts, sports and education for the youths under their charge. In 2007, the bank organised four signature events for these youth. In The Amazing Race Sports Challenge, youth participants ran a race paired with an adult mentor from the bank. Then came a series of edu-motivational seminars that coach teenagers on handling life’s challenges such as setting life goals and managing responsibilities. For a one-day bazaar, the teenagers were given stalls to sell handmade merchandise, taught handicraft skills and trained in entrepreneurial and merchandising skills. The last event was the Shining Stars Concert, where teens showed off their talents in the performing arts.
Amazing Race Sports Challenge: The Rock Climbing Challenge at Yishun Safra.
“Each event develops a different facet Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre conferred in young people, motivating them in different on ABN AMRO the Corporate Citizen Award ways and developing different skill sets,” for Volunteerism at its National Volunteerism explains David Wong. & Philanthropy Awards 2007. The two annual events, The ABN AMRO But making a difference to the life of Amazing Race Sports Challenge and the the beneficiaries is only one half of the story Shining Stars Concert have become very for the bank. The second dimension is what popular with the youths because of their the act of volunteering does for staff. energy and fun-quotient. “But they pick up “They feel that they are giving somevaluable life lessons along with the fun,” thing back to the community and they are points out Wong. “ EVERYONE SAYS THEY energised by the experience,” For instance, in The WANT TO GIVE BACK Wong observes. “Our volunAmazing Race Sports Chal- TO SOCIETY, BUT DO teers come back year after THEY, IN FACT, WALK year and they bring in more lenge, the teenagers learn THE TALK?” discipline, teamwork and colleagues.” planning; while The Shining Stars Concert The staff’s esprit de corps is also allows them to discover talents that may be strengthened. “We are a very big bank with latent, previously undiscovered or overlooked. 1,500 people,” remarks Wong. “Through Says Wong,“By giving youths the opporvolunteering, our staff make new friends tunity to look at themselves differently and among their colleagues and bond with them.” acquire entrepreneurial skills, we are giving And the proof is in the numbers. Staff them different options in life. This is a very volunteerism jumped from a low of 5% in powerful opportunity for them. That is why 2001 to 25% today. Wong’s point is that our programme is called the Opportunity volunteering and its associated activities Programme. We worked with 500 youths are about more than raising money; it’s about this year, which is significant, but if we involving staff on a human level. As he only touch one person, I think we’d have points out, “Everyone can raise funds, but accomplished a lot.” how do you get people engaged and Citing the bank for its sustained, strategic committed? That is what differentiates us development of youths, the National from other companies.” ✩ Sep-Dec 2007 S A LT •
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OUTSTANDING NON-PROFIT ORGANISATION AWARD
TOUCH COMMUNITY SERVICES
hat makes for a successful voluntary welfare organisation? From a modest beginning as a centre for latch-key children, TOUCH has evolved over the years into one of Singapore’s largest and successful VWOs. Its clients under the six service groups – Children, Youth, Family, Elderly, Special Needs and Healthcare – include children from lowincome or single-parent families, youths at risk, needy families, people with special and healthcare needs and the frail elderly. Indeed, since it was first registered as a non-profit organisation 15 years ago, TOUCH has reached out to more than 80,000 individuals of all races and religions. In 2006 alone, it touched the lives of over 9,000 individuals each month through its network of 17 services with 18 centres located in different part of Singapore. Its success is reflected in the support it receives. When it first began life, TOUCH was fully funded by Faith Community Baptist Church, founded by Lawrence Khong and also the driving force behind TOUCH. In contrast, today, almost 95% of TOUCH’s $8 million annual budget is met through programme fees, donations, fundraising projects, and government support. In bestowing the organisation with the Outstanding Non-profit Organisation Award at the National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2007, NVPC paid tribute to the fact that “in the way it manages its volunteers, donors and supporters, TOUCH is the epitome of doing good well.” The story of TOUCH began with one person driven by a cause she believed in. In 1986, moved by the difficulties low-income, single-parent families were experiencing with raising their children in a positive environment, Koh Bee Choo rallied 15 young church volunteers to open a centre for latch-key children. The programme was so successful, it was subsequently endorsed by the government and run as an after-school programme. Then along came another right person with a burning cause, Patrick Koh, who cared deeply about the physically disabled, asked to start a training centre to help the disabled find jobs. And TOUCH obliged.
TOUCH Community Services’ Seniors Activity Centre.
that social service is something that you And on it went. In this way, the organiembark on long term. When you have that sation launched service after service to cater long-term commitment, the clients sense to an increasingly diverse web of clients, it and you draw the right people. Passion and fulfilling its mission to establish an begets passion,” declares Khong. integrated network of community-based “The passionate person attracts the services that strengthens the family. right people and starts a fire going. And According to Khong, every TOUCH TOUCH is able to tap passion because it programme has the same beginning: the made people its priority. We are not short right person with fire in his belly. “We have on hardware or software. What the core passion and enthusiasm, because people with real passion are behind each programme. leadership of TOUCH is always on the lookout for is ‘heartware’.” This is why social service is called people TOUCH readily admits that while it has service. It is not in the programming, it’s big dreams, it is also a realist. in the people.” TOUCH has a formula: “ THIS IS WHY SOCIAL Tellingly, besides ‘people’, the other touchstone People, Programme and Place. SERVICE IS CALLED PEOPLE SERVICE. word in TOUCH’s culture is Or find the right person. IT IS NOT IN THE ‘relevance’. This means doing Create the right programme. PROGRAMMING, IT’S IN THE PEOPLE.” work that is relevant to real And find the space for the needs, and not ‘busy work’. programme. “We keep worrying that we are “By the right person, we mean someone running a programme just because we with the right attitude, or passion, and aptihave always run it,” says Khong. To stay tude,” explains Khong. “Someone may have relevant, TOUCH continually questions if the passion, but can’t handle the undertaking a particular programme is required. With professionally. Or he may have the right such introspection, Khong says TOUCH aptitude but without the passion, he won’t looks “back with great comfort that what last the course.” we have begun has become part of SingaAnd lasting the course is all-important pore’s social fabric.” ✩ in social service. “One thing we discover is
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NON-PROFIT ORGANISATION AWARD FOR PHILANTHROPY MANAGEMENT
years old with a ‘social venture capital fund’ raised $2.1 million for 214 voluntary welfare organisations, with 45,400 volunteers of $1,600 to execute creative business ideas mobilised who together reached out to 2.7 that will benefit any charity of their choice. million people.” The programme is reinforced by a mentorship But Citibank-YMCA Youth For Causes initiative where teams are guided by working is not the only way YMCA of Singapore professionals from both organisations. labours for other NPOs. The programme has since grown from t the National Volunteerism & PhilanThe YMCA-Tan Chin Tuan Community strength to strength. Since 2003, the Citigroup thropy Awards 2007, the National Service programmes are another. Partially Foundation has provided $608,000 in Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre funded by an annual grant seed money and raised $2.1 conferred the Non-profit Organisation from the Tan Chin Tuan million. Each year, between “THE MULTIPLIER EFFECT IS Award for Philanthropy Management on Foundation over the next 200 and 300 applications for TREMENDOUS. YMCA of Singapore for doing something three years, these programmes the programme are received. SINCE ITS LAUNCH, few other Non-profit Organisations (NPOs) see YMCA running structured Another indicator of its success: THE PROGRAMME HAS RAISED $2.1 do – looking after the needs of other NPOs. The Citigroup Foundation and sustained programmes 214 In bestowing the award, NVPC noted with selected non-profit quadrupled its annual seed MILLION FOR VOLUNTARY WELFARE organisations that cannot that “there are not that many NPOs in Singafunding for the programme ORGANISATIONS, pore that would go out of its way to raise to $168,000, up from WITH 45,400 VOLUN- do their own, either because funds for fellow NPOs on a sustained basis.” $40,000 during its pilot run. TEERS MOBILISED they lack the capacity or WHO TOGETHER In particular, NVPC commended the organbecause economies of scale “We initiated the REACHED OUT TO 2.7 do not favour it. isation for the way it has committed to its Citibank-YMCA Youth For MILLION PEOPLE.” relationship with Citibank on the annual The various programmes Causes to raise resources Citibank-YMCA Youth For Causes programme. – financial and manpower – for the social under the scheme aim to enrich the lives of “That YMCA of Singapore has been able to elderly, underprivileged and abused children, services sector because this sector is sustain the bank’s partnership on an ongoing out-of-school youth, and intellectually, always in need in these areas,” explains basis is also testimony of its professionalism Albert Ching, General Secretary of YMCA mentally and physically challenged benefiin working with its corporate partner.” ciaries from the VWOs through activities of Singapore. “This programme recognises Piloted in 2002 to commemorate the like gardening, dancing, arts and crafts, that young people have great ideas, lots centennial celebrations of both Citibank and outings, nature walks, singing, educational of energy and want to do something. We YMCA in Singapore, Citibank-YMCA Youth tours and reading. Looking ahead in the play the role of the enabler, providing the For Causes has proven to be a runaway next three years, YMCA aims to increase the mentors, training them and funding them. success. Aimed at promoting social entrereach from the present 10 to 14, to benefit “The multiplier effect is tremendous,” preneurship among youth in Singapore, the Ching adds.“We track every project we fund 800 beneficiaries from the current 400. programme provides youths aged 15 to 35 YMCA is always gazing into the future, and since its launch, the programme has sorting out kinks along the way. Ching says, “We are very dependent on volunteers, but we get a lot of feedback from VWOs that volunteers want to serve but are not familiar with the sector and are not equipped to serve. We ask: How can we enhance the effectiveness and capacity of volunteers?” The answer has been training. To better equip the Y Volunteers with the right skills, YMCA conducts a range of volunteer development training programmes, such as YMCANUS Business School Volunteer Services Management programme, Y Service-Learning, Y Events Safety Management and Y Service Project Management. Ching says that YMCA’s track record speaks volumes, but sustaining the passion is a challenge.“I think there are a lot of young people who are very passionate and want to do something. We run very structured programmes because we want to sustain the passion of our volunteers. It is important that we provide this platform for volunteers; without this platform, you wouldn’t get new volunteers because they wouldn’t The YMCA-Central Singapore Proms @ the Park entered the Singapore Book of Records as a picnic with the most know how to get started.” ✩ number of beneficiaries.
YMCA OF SINGAPORE
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SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
DR WILLIAM TAN
euroscientist. Medical doctor. Olympic wheelchair athlete. World record holder. International motivational speaker. Few people have lived life bigger than William Tan. Certainly few have done as much as he has for the disabled. Since he first started racing 20 years ago, Tan has taken part in over 92 marathons across the globe, raising more than $18 million for charity. In the process, his feats have awakened the world to the notion that the disabled, too, possess worthy gifts, talents and potential. It’s no surprise that Tan has chosen marathons as his platform to reach out to the world. Life has been a gruelling marathon since he was two, when polio left him paralysed from the waist down. Because his parents were too poor to buy him crutches, he spent eight years walking on his hands and dragging his feet, until he was given crutches at 10. At 15, in what would prove to be a turning point in his life, a Singaporean pioneer of wheelchair sports introduced Tan to racing. He began to apply to the sports arena that same mental strength and perseverance he acquired through his lifelong struggles. Tan topped Selegie Primary and went on to Raffles Institution on a Ministry of Education Scholarship for his secondary and preuniversity education. He won scholarships to Harvard and Oxford and eventually became a neuroscientist and a medical doctor. Still, even in medical school, he suffered discrimination: In medical school, a professor told him he was a waste of a seat in the school. Utterly undaunted, he continued his medical training and has worked with various prestigious institutions including the Mayo Clinic in the United States. In the meantime, he has continued racing and he shows no sign of stopping, tearing down both stereotypes and world records in the process. “”Volunteerism is a marathon, not a sprint, and the last 20 years have been a sustained marathon effort to serve the wider community in need,” he says, but adds modestly when asked about his achievements, “I never thought it was a big deal. I am just the catalyst, the initiator.” It has been a big deal though. In February 2005, he became the first person in the world to undertake a wheelchair push in Antarctica and the first to compete in 10 marathons in seven continents over 65 days in a wheel-
Dr William Tan after reaching the North Pole.
the Outstanding Young Persons of the World chair. That same year, he broke the world Award, and the Reader’s Digest Inspiring record for the greatest distance covered in Asian Award. And this year, the National 24 hours by wheelchair, wheeling himself Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre celebrated 243km in 24 hours. And in April 2007, his remarkable life and gifts by bestowing he became the first person in the world on him the Special Recognition Award at to complete a marathon in the North Pole the National Volunteerism & Philanthropy over 21 hours and 10 minutes in extreme Awards. The award pays conditions that included “ THERE ARE NO tribute to Tan as an a temperature of minus DREAMS THAT ARE embodiment of passion 25 degree Celsius. UNATTAINABLE The driving force FOR ANYONE WHO and compassion, and for his inspiration for countless behind all this energy is HAS THE WILL AND DETERMINATION TO people around the world. Tan’s determination to REDEFINE WHAT IS “I’ve never regarded champion needy causes HUMANLY POSSIBLE!” myself as special,” says Tan. throughout the world, “For me, it is my duty of care. Maybe my pitting his restricted physicality against the disability has helped me to be more sensitive challenge. In this way, he has also skydived, but we don’t need a disability to invigorate water-skied, sailed and even climbed a us. There are no dreams that are unattainable 14-storey building to raise money. for anyone who has the will and determinaFor his outstanding contribution to humanitarian causes, Tan has been honoured tion to redefine what is humanly possible! At the end of the day, it is not about what with many awards including the Public Service Star and the President’s Social Service we don’t have. It’s about leveraging on our strengths, on what we have.” ✩ Award in Singapore; and, on the world stage,
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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
26 January SPD Education Programme Awards Presentation Venue: Dâ€™Tent, Downtown East Time: 10.30am. Over 200 students with physical disabilities or whose parents are physically disabled will receive bursary awards to help them along their educational journey for the year. The award is part of the SPD Education Programme that aims to ensure the holistic, physical, mental and social wellbeing of disabled students. For more information, contact Angela Chung at 62366395, or e-mail Angela_CHUNG@spd.org.sg
26-27 January 5th Annual Cross Roads Giant Garage Sale Venue: Cairnhill Community Club, 1 Anthony Road Time: 9am-6pm.
This yearâ€™s garage sale brings together nearly 170 vendors selling new or gently-used items at bargain prices. Catch, too, supporting NPOs like Village Works, Aidha and SPCA. For more information, check out www.crossroads.com.sg or call Angelika on 96444286.
31 January NVPC Volunteer Orientation Venue: NVPC, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #04-88 The Central Time: 7-9 pm. Registration begins at 6.45pm. Have you ever wondered what it is like to volunteer? What are the types of volunteering opportunities out there? This orientation programme will help answer your questions. Participating organisations include National Cancer Centre Singapore, Reach Family Service Centre, and SWAMI Home.
For more information, call Kenny Teo at 65509573 or email volunteer@ nvpc.org.sg
Cancer Foundation. For more information, call 68356465 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
15 February International Childhood Cancer Day
18 February to 25 April (weekdays only) Volunteers needed
Venue: Island-wide The objective of this day is to educate the public about childhood cancer and to support local fundraising by member nations. The gold ribbon is the official symbol of children with cancer worldwide. Singaporeans can show their solidarity by wearing the gold ribbon pin from 15 February to 15 March (the actual day falls on 15 February) and show support for childhood cancer. Members of the public can pen their well wishes at www.ccf.org.sg/iccd, wear a gold ribbon pin, or make an online donation to support the Childrenâ€™s
Venue: SPD Ability Centre Time: 9am to 5pm The Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) is looking for volunteers to help its physically disabled trainees in organising, sorting and packing magazines and books as part of a contract job. Proceeds from the job will go towards funding the operating cost of the Sheltered Workshop as well as the allowance of the trainees. For more information or to register, call Ms Alice Hue at 62366391 or e-mail Alice_HUE@spd.org.sg.
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“I attach great importance to general literature for the enlargement of the mind and for giving business capacity. I think I have noticed that technically educated boys do not make the most successful businessmen. The imagination needs to be cultivated and developed to assure success in life. A man will never construct anything he cannot conceive.” Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University.
“Initiate giving. Don’t wait for someone to ask... You may find that you gain a greater clarity about yourself and about your relationships, as well as more energy rather than less. You may find that, rather than exhausting yourself or your resources, you will replenish them. Such is the power of mindful, selfless generosity. At the deepest level, there is no giver, no gift, and no recipient... only the universe rearranging itself.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, doctor and teacher of Mindfulness Meditation.
“‘We’ve always done it this way’ is not a good enough reason to keep doing it if it isn’t working. When an otherwise smart habit or ritual loses its potency and you continue doing it, you’re in a rut.”
“As long as my brain is still active and my two hands are still useful, I will do work to help others. Volunteering is my way of giving back to society. Also, it keeps my mind going and prevents me from going senile.” Mdm Ang, 85 year-old, senior volunteer.
Lionel Jonathan Louis, 23 year-old, in “I’m a volunteer too” (published by NVPC).
“Our studies demonstrate that if you engage in helping activities as a teen, you will still be reaping health benefits 60 or 70 years later. And no matter when you adopt a giving lifestyle, your well-being will improve. Even more remarkable, giving is linked to traits that generate a successful life, such as social competence, empathy, and a positive emotion.” Stephen Post, PhD, and Jill Neimark, in Why Good Things Happen to Good People (Broadway), The Oprah Magazine, September 2007 issue.
Photograph by courtesy of SPH – The Straits Times
Twyla Tharp in The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life.
“ I think Singaporeans are crafted in a way where we value only the academics, the paper qualifications. There is also a belief that if you volunteer, you will end up neglecting your studies or work... I think, as a society, we need to learn and understand that sometimes giving more is better than taking.”
“My vision is to live life beyond the wheel-chair, to rise above it and touch people’s lives.” Dr William Tan, in a Straits Times interview on being conferred the Public Service Star at the National Day Awards.
“In Singapore, people have the mindset that they will do charity when they have the time or when they are free. For the West, charity is a planned thing.” Mr Yong Teck Meng, Director, Habitat for Humanity in a Straits Times interview on generosity of the rich in Singapore.
• S A LT Sep-Dec 2007
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