Saturday, 19 January 2013

SG Gives website gets record $8.5 million in 2012 donations

Figure is 37% jump over 2011 as more take to convenience of giving online
By Leslie Kay Lim And Janice Tai, The Straits Times, 18 Jan 2013

SINGAPORE'S largest online donation portal, SG Gives, received record donations in 2012.

The $8.5 million raised last year was a 37 per cent jump from $6.2 million in 2011.

The number of transactions on the portal run by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) increased across the board as well, with almost 33,000 transactions, up from about 25,000.

The top areas of giving, among the more than 270 registered charities, were social services, health, animals and the environment.

With a 46 per cent rise in donations in 2011 over the previous year, SG Gives has experienced strong growth since it was launched in February 2010. It has already raised $19 million for charities.

Awareness of the recent portal seems to be growing, bringing more donors with it.

Yet charities say that more publicity about the portal will help.

"Some members of the public are still unfamiliar with it and with more awareness, it will help push donations up further," said a spokesman from the National Kidney Foundation, which joined SG Gives at its inception.

She added that the portal is popular among the educated and IT-savvy crowd who find donating online hassle-free and convenient.

SG Gives also stepped up its efforts to appeal to this demographic, with two social media campaigns launched for the first time last year.

The campaigns engaged donors' interest by having charities "compete" on Facebook to win publicity on media channels, as well as by having donors vie for cash for their favourite causes through creative photo submissions.

The approach paid off. Of those donors who indicated their profession on the portal last year, 35 per cent are professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

Mr Saad Chinoy, 29, a technology strategist who donates more than six times a year through the portal, said: "It makes good use of technology to enable non-profit organisations to do what really matters."

Additionally, while the average amount donated through the portal last year was $261, the top five donors each gave between $55,000 and $95,000, surpassing 2011's largest gift.

Besides charity groups, more individuals, especially those seeking a secure platform to raise funds for their pet causes or for the needy when crisis strikes, are using the portal.

For example, when a concrete roof collapsed on workers at a Bugis MRT worksite last year, killing two and injuring several others, a donation drive for the victims utilised the portal.

Despite that, there are still some donors who eschew online donations.

Senior executive Shawn Khoong prefers to do his giving in person, explaining that he likes the personal connection it forges.

"I donate or purchase merchandise when I go for events that charities organise because there is a personal touch when you see them face to face," said the 26-year-old.

Like previous years, December stood out as the top month for giving. Donors gave $3.2 million last month, a jump from the $2.3 million raised in the same period in 2011.

Last month, almost $400,000 was raised on Dec 31 alone.

NVPC chief executive Laurence Lien explained that the festive mood leads to the peak in giving. But he recommends that donors and charities be less sporadic in their efforts.

"I urge charities to spread out their efforts throughout the year so that their cause can be more widely promoted with consistent support all year round."

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