Thursday 5 December 2013

S'poreans becoming more generous

More donating or volunteering, but still few helping strangers: Survey
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 4 Dec 2013

SINGAPOREANS are becoming more generous when it comes to giving their time or money for a good cause.

About 55 per cent donated to charity last year, almost double the 29 per cent the year before, according to a global index for charitable giving released yesterday.

More Singaporeans are also volunteering, with 17 per cent contributing their time and efforts, up from 8 per cent.

Thanks to the surge in generosity, Singapore shot up 50 places in the World Giving Index 2013 compiled by the Britain-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).

It ranked 64th out of the 135 countries and economies polled - a stark improvement from its 114th place last year. It is also Singapore's best showing since the annual ranking began in 2010.

While more are willing to give money or time, Singaporeans appear to be more hesitant when it comes to helping strangers.

The CAF found that only 24 per cent of those here had helped a stranger last year - the same as the year before - placing Singapore in second last place, just ahead of Cambodia. The United States topped the table for helping strangers, with 77 per cent assisting.

The CAF measures three areas - volunteering, donating and helping a stranger. Respondents were asked if they had done any of the three in the month before they were surveyed.

Polling was conducted by Gallup, which surveyed more than 155,000 people in 135 countries and economies last year. The foundation then averaged out the findings in each category to give an overall score and ranking.

Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, noted that while people here have altruistic intentions, they tend to associate giving with donating money and not so much in helping strangers.

Official data appeared to bear this out. Last year, tax-deductible donations hit a record high of about $1 billion, 12 per cent up on the $896 million in 2011.

Dr Wan said Singaporeans may be hesitant when it comes to helping strangers "due to shyness or tuning out from our surroundings to mind our own business".

The 2012 survey by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre told a different story. It found that one in three Singaporeans engaged in volunteerism, including helping neighbours and strangers.

NVPC chief executive Laurence Lien said the CAF index tracked giving over the past month, while the NVPC poll is conducted once every two years and measures giving over 12 months.

But the findings of the two surveys were consistent "in the sense that giving has improved", he said.

Those who want to donate or volunteer can visit SG Cares ( and SG Gives (

S'pore joins global day of giving to help charities
More than 90 organisations, including SPH, raise funds on Giving Tuesday
By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 4 Dec 2013

CHARITIES benefited yesterday when more than 90 organisations volunteered time and money to make it a Tuesday with a difference.

One of them, NTUC Income, sold 1,000 plant terrariums hand-made by its employees.

The proceeds of $20,000 went to the Society for the Physically Disabled. The insurer absorbed the $15,000 cost of the campaign, including materials like jars and plants.

"It's a meaningful gift as you can see the plant growing, unlike stuffed toys, which you throw away after awhile," said financial consultant Ong Kim Eng, 59, who bought two jars. "When I give them to my grandchildren, I can also explain to them about charity work."

Chief executive of NTUC Income Ken Ng said the campaign was "as much about employee giving as it is about corporate giving", adding that "employees rallied each other and created a positive, collective momentum to do more and give more together".

The sales event was just one of many held yesterday for GivingTuesdaySG, which encourages charitable activities to support non-profit groups.

They included canvassing for donations, as volunteers for the Singapore Cancer Society did, and free beverages for an hour at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in exchange for donations to the Singapore Children's Society.

Spearheaded by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), it is part of the worldwide Giving Tuesday movement that sets aside Dec 3 as a global day of giving.

It was launched in America last year to counter the excessive consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

This year, the event went global, with Singapore the first country in Asia to take on the initiative. Organisations included The Straits Times' parent company Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and theatre company Wild Rice.

Mr Thomas Tan, NVPC's head of advocacy, said: "It wasn't too difficult convincing our partners to come on board as many corporates, organisations and individuals recognise the importance of growing a culture of giving in Singapore."

At SPH, some 20 staff volunteers went around various divisions to collect donations for Loose Change Day.

Donations will reach a range of charities under Community Chest to help beneficiaries such as children, the elderly and the disabled. Staff volunteer Sandy Chew, a 45-year-old senior sales representative in marketing, said: "Though it's a bit tiring, it's a satisfying feeling to see the donation box filling up at the end of the activity."

Mr Alan Chan, CEO of SPH, said: "Through our support of the inaugural GivingTuesdaySG... we hope to inspire our staff and the public to give generously to the less fortunate, especially during this festive season."

Cloud computing firm Salesforce sent 15 volunteers to spread festive cheer with a Christmas party at the Arc Children's Centre, a day-care centre for child cancer patients.

Some 23 children and their siblings had fun playing games, snacking, singing songs and watching a puppet show.

Said six-year-old David (not his real name): "I liked the games, and the food was nice."

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