“As the Government disburses extra $8.6 million to VWOs in financial difficulty, charities debate the way forward” (Feeling The Pinch, Mr. Leong Wee Keat and Mr. Ong Dailin).
The article, “Feeling The Pinch” (October 5, 2009), by Mr. Leong Wee Keat and Mr. Ong Dailin, reveals the challenging times and circumstances that local charities and non-profits are presented with. Unfortunately, the sense of donor fatigue – with a growing number of organisations and a smaller pool of contributions – is not unique to Singapore.
Indeed, the end of charity drives, increased competition and the global recession have been important reasons why individuals are giving less, and organisations are receiving less. More importantly, fund-raising confidence is at an all-time low, when people no longer give because they are tired of solicitation. Furthermore, with the accessibility of the Internet and the proliferation of globalisation, it is increasingly difficult for different causes and groups to compete for the limited bandwidth of individuals. From illness research to environmental awareness to philanthropy groups; many have reached a threshold in terms of fixed capacity and ability.
Personally, I have gotten tired of being asked to donate because I rarely know where my donation goes to; and more significantly, because I simply cannot respond to the assortment of demands that are increasing almost exponentially.
There is a multitude of methods in which the traditional fund-raising methodologies and mechanisms can be improved and diversified. Many overseas charities – and even some local ones – have ventured into revenue-generating enterprises to fund activities and initiatives. The notion of a social enterprise within charities allows the latter to make use of profits more effectively and efficiently. Though initial conceptualisation and planning might be challenging, a charity which manages to balance profit orientation and the key social objectives would find its income more sustainable; and in some ways, involve its beneficiaries too. Alternatively, charities with parallel or similar aims can find ways of collaboration; or continue to involve student groups in the search for more projects to boost fund-raising awareness. From my knowledge, organisations such as the Student Advisory Centre (SAC) has been active in doing so.
Ultimately, the key is for VWOs and NPOs to adapt and adopt new methods to meet with the challenges of fund-raising and awareness development. Maintenance on the status quo and continued reliance on the authorities – except for key organisations – is not the way to go.
A version of this article was published in TODAY.