“Individual tax-deductible donations reached $240 million, a 13.7 per cent increase over the $211 million recorded in 2008” (Give And Give, The Sunday Times Editorial).
The editorial “Give And Give” (August 15, 2010): it is indeed heartening to know that in spite of the economic downturn that had hit Singaporeans considerably hard through the past two years, individuals and households remain generous in their donations to charities and voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs). After all, it was less than a year ago when the administration had to disburse an additional $8.6 million dollars to the organisations to tide them through their financial crises; while the various agencies had to contemplate methodologies to collect more funds to finance their day-to-day operations.
In addition to the controversies surrounding select charities and their fiscal management, the VWOs have had to contend with the increasing trend of donor fatigue: in which non-profits are struggling to deal with increased competition soliciting donations from a small pool of contributors. The proliferation of the Internet has also made it increasingly difficult for various groups and causes to compete for the limited bandwidth of the donors; many of which are simply overwhelmed and increasingly tired of such solicitation. All these have made it imperative for the organisations to be more creative and innovative in their fund-raising efforts; subtly generating more interest and creating the impetus for Singaporeans to reach for their pockets for worthy causes.
Of course, money is only part of the solution. The thousands of Singaporean households who might be struggling with day-to-day living require more than just cash vouchers and groceries to tide over their woes and worries. Because of the limited number of staff in the social service sector, it has become necessary for individuals to start volunteering hours and efforts to supplement manpower for regular programmes and initiatives. The “charity” and “consideration” aspects of the 5Cs should work in tandem to get people interested and active in volunteerism and community service on a sustainable basis.
The administration needs to make that important first step to motivate and encourage Singaporeans to step out of their comfort zones and participate as positive agents within their communities. Online portals can be remodelled to reach out through networking sites, while new advocacy and awareness campaigns can be instituted to attract more volunteers to join the fray and do our part. Public servants and even politicians must take the lead to contribute a little of their time, on a regular basis, in charitable organisations.
Time and money may be valuable assets to working professionals; but with the comprehension that a little goes a long way, more should be willing to do their part together with their family and friends for our fellow citizens.
A version of this article was published in The Straits Times.