Give time and effort to make changes, ST Editorial News & Top Stories
The number of charitable foundations in Singapore has grown significantly over the past decade. Of 91 foundations here, 40 percent have been registered as charities since 2011. And they do more than just distribute cash donations to causes. The new slogan is strategic philanthropy, as opposed to outright charity. This means that donors look at the long term, give more sustained support to projects and seek to use their donations to effect real change for the good of society. Such philanthropy can do a lot to fill the gaps in social policy. In the wake of the pandemic, where issues of income inequality and class divisions have gained traction in mainstream discourse, such philanthropic work can do a lot to meet real needs and correct imbalances. It’s part of a global trend that has also seen billionaires like Mr. Warren Buffett and Mr. Bill Gates pledge to give away a large chunk of their fortunes.
These foundations distribute sums of the order of hundreds of thousands and millions. But as the recent Presidential Awards for Volunteerism and Philanthropy prove, you don’t have to be rich to give back to society. While the awards only recognize 12 individuals and organizations for their contributions, there are hundreds of other ordinary Singaporeans who have also stepped up over the past two years to help. People who cannot afford to donate have instead given their time and expertise to effect social change. Social media here is replete with many examples of businesses, groups and individuals at the local level who have stepped up to do everything from refurbishing gadgets for needy students to helping older hawkers to get by. publicize online. Singapore indeed has a long history of self-help organizations and wealthy philanthropists who all helped meet the needs of the people in the early years of its history. Such generosity and kindness are still needed in the 21st century, even though social and economic infrastructure has improved dramatically. Everyone has a role to play in building this city of good.