Corporate giving not just a business practice, but helps to build a caring society: Heng Swee Keat

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that corporate giving is an integral part of how companies engage stakeholders and inspire their employees.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that corporate giving is an integral part of how companies engage stakeholders and inspire their employees.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Corporate giving these days is not just a business practice, but an integral part of how companies engage stakeholders and inspire their employees, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking at the inaugural Champions of Good recognition event on Tuesday (Nov 7), Mr Heng added: "Each of us has an important part to play in giving. None of us can go at this alone. Government's efforts alone will not be sufficient nor sustainable. A caring and inclusive home for all must be built by all of us together."

The annual event recognises businesses in Singapore that practise good giving, and are committed to "influencing and multiplying" corporate giving in Singapore.

The event, held at the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, is an extension of the Company of Good programme that was launched by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) in June 2016. The programme helps companies kick-start or design more meaningful ways to give.

In addition, the Business Leaders Network which the NVPC had earlier launched will help these companies connect with and learn from one another.

"Today, we celebrate the Champions of Good as powerful catalysts of change and meaningful contributors to our community. We recognise them for their initiative to lead, connect and influence fellow companies in corporate giving," said Mr Heng.

He was referring to the 25 large enterprises and 20 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore who were recognised at the event as champions for their outstanding giving efforts in the past year. They were selected from a pool of 74 companies.

This year's awardees included large enterprises such as United Overseas Bank, Mastercard, Sodexo, CapitaLand, Singapore Press Holdings and OCBC Bank, and SMEs including Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee, Spic & Span, Direct Funeral Service, Dynasty Travel and Ang Chin Moh Funeral Directors.

Microsoft, for instance, holds the annual We Tech Care event, where the public can participate in hands-on activities or talks related to digital transformation, innovation and digital literacy for people with disabilities.

Meanwhile, eco-friendly packaging company Greenpac, one of the SMEs recognised at the event, has sponsored hydroponics systems in schools to teach them about the importance of sustainability. Its volunteers also teach strudents how to take care of the plants.

The company contributes to other social causes - such as befriending the elderly from Thong Teck Home from the Aged, and arranging for Dignity Kitchen, a hawker training school for disabled and disadvantaged people, to provide them with lunch.

Mr Heng, who encouraged corporate givers to innovate and collaborate, added: "When we look at our champions, we see that whether you are an established MNC or a young SME, a traditional professional-service provider or a disruptive tech start-up, you can play a part in giving. Whether you give of your professional knowledge, your employees' time, or even involve users of your services to do good, you can make a difference."

Mr Nicholas Goh, founder and chief executive of Verztec Consulting, one of the SMEs recognised, said corporate giving enables closer bonds to be forged among team members. 

“Our team has also grown closer and some colleagues have even gone the extra mile to serve as volunteers on a personal capacity for some of the charity partners we reach out to,” he said.  “It is important to collaborate with partners because together, we can complement each other’s strengths and touch more lives of those who are disadvantaged.”

Said NVPC's chief executive Melissa Kwee: "Society is facing complex challenges at an unprecedented level, and we believe that businesses have the potential to make a significant difference. Besides driving economic stability, businesses can also catalyse social change through their influence, partnerships and business models."