Firms already into social work

KPMG holds its own community day, while HP has a committee to organise community-service projects

SOME companies here are ahead of others when it comes to contributing to the community and encouraging their staff to do volunteer work.

For instance, KPMG, which provides accounting, tax and consulting services, holds its own community day each September, during which its offices are closed and its staff go off to help at welfare organisations.

Computer company Hewlett-Packard has a committee in place to organise community-service projects.

And this was way before Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong made his get-involved call to companies, at the official opening of the National Volunteer Centre (NVC) on July 7.

Mr Goh said then: "By providing an avenue for those who wish to do something but may not really know how to begin, companies can be a catalyst for community involvement by the individual."

But at least one company has been prompt to respond to his call.

Two days later, DBS Bank said it was giving all its 8,000 employees two extra days of paid leave each year, so they can perform community service.

A Straits Times check with a number of companies also found that many of them, including Singapore Press Holdings, do have some form of community programme in place.

Overseas Union Bank, for example, runs a Big Hearts, Little Ones scheme in which a portion of credit-card holders' expenditure is donated to the Children's Charities Association.

At KPMG, in the period leading up to its community day each September, employees start a collection that the company matches dollar for dollar.

Last year, it managed to raise $119,330 for five voluntary welfare organisations.

Employees also helped out at, for instance, the Singapore Children's Society on the company's community day.

At Hewlett-Packard, the projects that its community-activities committee is planning includes a day trip for students at the Association For Educationally Subnormal Children Tanglin Special School.

But none of the companies approached has any immediate plans to give its staff paid leave to carry out volunteer work.

Said Mrs Cheong Choy Wai, a partner at major accounting firm Arthur Andersen: "But we do encourage our staff to have a spirit of giving."

At SingTel, employees who wish to do volunteer work during office hours may be granted time off, but this is at the discretion of department heads and if work demands permit, said Mr Chia Boon Chong, its corporate communications manager.

An NVC survey for April to June this year found that only one in 10 Singaporeans is involved in volunteer work.

Three in four of the non-volunteers said that they did not have the time to indulge in such activities.

Nevertheless, since July 7, the number of people registering at the centre to be volunteers has jumped from 400 to 750.

More than 10 companies have also asked how they can set up corporate community-involvement programmes.


WHERE TO OFFER SERVICES

THOSE interested in doing volunteer work can either go personally to the National Volunteer Centre at 7 Maxwell Road, #05-01, Annex B, MND Complex, Singapore 069111, or register online.

The centre's website - www.nvc.org.sg - has a Volunteer eMatch facility.

Or they can call 1800-325-0965 during office hours.

Companies wishing to run corporate community programmes can e-mail NVC at feedback@nvc.org.sg or phone 1800-325-0965.