PARLIAMENT:Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

Do good and get rewarded with grants of up to $50,000

Ministry rolls out initiatives to promote culture of giving back to society

Doing good has received a big boost. Singaporeans and non-profit groups can soon apply for a grant of up to $50,000 each time they have a project that builds national identity or helps the underprivileged.

The Our Singapore Fund will pay for up to 80 per cent of the cost of an approved project.

Similarly, companies will get help from the Government to promote volunteerism among their workers, under a new programme called Company of Good. They will get training on how to set up or strengthen their corporate giving programmes, and if their efforts are assessed to be good enough, they may display a "Company of Good" logo.

These moves to promote a culture of giving back to society were announced yesterday during the budget debate of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Being a caring and cohesive community, alongside having a strong sense of national identity and pride, "will determine whether Singapore continues to thrive in the next 50 years", said its minister, Ms Grace Fu.

The many meaningful projects that came up during the SG50 celebrations last year show there is a rich store of enthusiasm and public spirit, she added.

"We want to unlock it with a little support to translate these ideas into reality," she said.

Hence the $25 million Our Singapore Fund, announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech on March 24.

It will be set up by the second half of the year and will last five years.

Help is also afoot to encourage corporate volunteerism in businesses, especially small and medium- sized enterprises.

In announcing the Company of Good programme, Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann said: "We regularly speak of corporate transformation in terms of productivity and innovation.

"It is just as important that businesses in our future economy are civic-minded and play active roles in our communities."

She was replying to Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) and Mr Henry Kwek (Nee Soon GRC).

The programme, to start in June, will be organised by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), in partnership with the Singapore Business Federation Foundation.

All companies can sign up for it, regardless of whether they are practising corporate giving at the moment. They can take an online quiz to assess their corporate giving programmes, and may qualify to display a "Company of Good" logo on their premises and corporate materials.

NVPC will train about 200 companies in two years and the course will cover topics such as how to start a corporate giving programme that engages staff, and ways to promote skills-based volunteerism.

NVPC will subsidise the training fees. Details will be available when the website www.companyofgood.sg goes live next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2016, with the headline 'Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth Do good and get rewarded with grants of up to $50,000'. Print Edition | Subscribe