The Sunday Times says

A year-round spirit of giving back

Volunteers painting the walls of Singapore Children's Society student care centres as part of Giving Week 2016.
Volunteers painting the walls of Singapore Children's Society student care centres as part of Giving Week 2016. PHOTO: NATIONAL VOLUNTEER AND PHILANTHROPY CENTRE

Generosity is seasonal, it appears. In the West and elsewhere, 'tis now approaching the season of "goodwill to all men", while Ramadan in the middle of the year is a month of alms-giving in Islamic communities. For practical reasons, one might concentrate efforts to, say, raise awareness about social causes via campaigns at particular periods - like Giving Week which is now running and The Straits Times' Causes Week starting tomorrow, which will showcase diverse charitable initiatives. But the broad intention is to keep the charitable spirit evergreen and make it a way of life.

Similarly, there is an effort to broaden the expression of that spirit to more than just a donation dropped in a tin can. One can give in other ways too, such as offering time, energy and skills to advance a cause. All forms of altruism and all contributions, whatever their scale, matter.

When good intentions flower, matching these with the needs of non-profits and charities will call for savvy organisation - for example, linking people via various channels, making good use of resources, keeping givers motivated, and tracking volunteers via efficient online systems.

It is gratifying to note that one in two in Singapore helped a stranger last year, at least once in the previous month when surveyed. Nurturing that impulse to develop a larger pool of givers for year-round charitable work will call for concerted community efforts. Singapore has improved its position in the latest World Giving Index, but still ranks 28th out of the 140 countries polled. Myanmar beat wealthy countries such as the United States and Australia for the top spot for the third year running. That suggests the social culture here must evolve if the giving spirit is to flourish.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 04, 2016, with the headline 'A year-round spirit of giving back'. Print Edition | Subscribe