Charities woo partners via speed dating

Care Corner Singapore's Daniel Ong (in white) with Nike representatives Raena Cheong and Jordan Hanauer. Ms Cheong, whose company does not yet have a regular local charity partner, says the speed dating model for networking works "because Singapore h
Care Corner Singapore's Daniel Ong (in white) with Nike representatives Raena Cheong and Jordan Hanauer. Ms Cheong, whose company does not yet have a regular local charity partner, says the speed dating model for networking works "because Singapore has so many charities".ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

App allows companies, charities to hook up and discuss tie-ups

"She" is single and ready to mingle. Through an app, she has been matchmade to three prospective partners and is set to spend 20 minutes with each of them.

While she is on her first date, the app keeps her posted on the upcoming one. At the 15-minute mark, a bell rings. And then she moves on to the next suitor.

The "dates" were part of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC)'s adaptation of technology-based speed dating, to help charities woo companies with workers keen to donate or volunteer.

Finding the right match of skills, resources and interests can be quite a feat on the burgeoning charity scene. Yesterday, some 250 companies tried to find "the one" from more than 30 charities and non-profit organisations in The Giving Marketplace, an event at The Arts House.

Said NVPC chief executive Melissa Kwee: "This is the first time that we are experimenting with the novel concept of using a match app to facilitate the interaction of non-profits and corporates, all under one roof. There are many commercial matching apps out there for dating so we thought: Why not apply our talent and technology to use it for doing good?"

NVPC's 2015 Corporate Giving Survey showed that four in five companies here have given time or money to disadvantaged people, and one in two has organised volunteering activities for employees.

Sports apparel giant Nike had earlier received a meeting request from AMKFSC Community Services on the app. Competition was stiff and Nike turned down eight of the 10 invitations to meet, owing to a mismatch in interest and schedule.

But AMKFSC got lucky and scored a date with Nike a little after 2pm yesterday. Nike asked about its student care services as the company has sports expertise that may benefit the children.

Nike next met Care Corner Singapore and said it hopes not only to bring relevant skills to the table but also find ways to engage its employees in community outreach.

Care Corner agreed, and gently tried sussing out if Nike is already seeing someone.

Nike replied that it does not have a regular local charity partner yet.

But Nike has been diligent in doing its homework, said community impact director Raena Cheong.

"We went to their websites to read up about them before meeting up. This speed dating concept works because Singapore has so many charities and both sides need to understand each other's needs and goals."

Mr Daniel Ong, head of corporate partnership at Care Corner, said neither he nor his colleagues had first date jitters when they met people from multiple companies.

"We try our best to help them get to know us and will leave things to develop naturally," he added. "Of course, we hope for a second 'date' and a longer-term relationship."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2017, with the headline 'Charities woo partners via speed dating'. Print Edition | Subscribe