Workers and Govt giving more to charity

Contributions from salaries to ComChest hit $16m; Govt offers donation-matching grant

Employees are digging deeper into their pockets and giving more to charity each month.

Some 221,900 workers contributed a total of $16.3 million from their salaries to the Community Chest (ComChest) last year, up from $14.5 million in 2013, according to figures released by the National Council of Social Service yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Government launched its Share As One programme yesterday, which will see it match any increase in annual donations dollar for dollar.

It took effect at the start of the new financial year last month and aims to encourage more people to donate and volunteer.

"Companies play a significant role in the giving landscape," said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who launched the Share As One initiative at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru.

"They have the capacity to contribute skills and resources that are highly valued by the social service sector and mobilise their employees to help the less fortunate. This will nurture a more caring community."

HOW COMPANIES CAN HELP

Companies play a significant role in the giving landscape. They have the capacity to contribute skills and resources that are highly valued by the social service sector and mobilise their employees to help the less fortunate.

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT TAN CHUAN-JIN

Companies can use half of the matching grant, capped at $10,000 per year, to organise volunteering activities for their staff or to build their corporate social responsibility capabilities.

Businesses can also use the money to hire intermediaries, such as consulting companies which can act as the middleman to connect charities looking for skilled volunteers with companies whose employees have the expertise to support specific causes.

The rest of the money will go to a fund managed by ComChest to benefit the social service sector. Charities can also apply for it to organise volunteer activities or strengthen their ability to manage volunteers.

According to the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre's Individual Giving Survey 2014, one in two respondents expressed interest in employer-organised volunteering but only one in five workers reported that his or her company organised volunteer activities.

ComChest chairman Phillip Tan said: "With the Government's matching grant to Community Chest's Share programme, not only can more businesses encourage their staff to donate in a sustained manner, but it will also enable more volunteering opportunities as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts."

Employees can engage in three types of volunteering: event-based, where ad-hoc support, such as manpower, is rendered; skills-based, where professional expertise is offered; or service-based, where volunteers complement the role of practitioners, such as befriending or mentoring.

Yesterday, Mr Tan met more than 90 members of the corporate sector, social service and non-profit organisations to discuss topics such as skills-based volunteering.

One of the companies present for the network session was Credit Suisse. In January, it saw the value in getting its employees to use their skills to help Rainbow Centre, which serves children with special needs, expand the scope of its upcoming fundraising charity auction.

Employees coached staff from Rainbow Centre on how to pitch their ideas better to prospective donors and helped to widen the list of artists and celebrities contributing art pieces to the auction.

Credit Suisse also suggested that the centre hold a public showcase for a preview of the auction items to raise awareness and momentum.

Mr Moses Ku, head of communication at Rainbow, said: "Their skills, knowledge and experiences helped us to view and plan our campaign from multiple angles which we would not have had we done it on our own."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline 'Workers and Govt giving more to charity'. Print Edition | Subscribe