It is heartening that a new generation of millennial donors is stepping forward to donate to the Singapore universities which they attended, funding bursaries and scholarships among other philanthropic initiatives. While it is not uncommon for people to leave to their universities a sum of money in gratitude that ties their life achievements to the future of their institutions of learning, some young entrepreneurs are giving five-, six-or even seven-figure sums to their alma mater. Millennials, who, according to one definition, were born between 1981 and 1996 and thus would be 23 to 38 years old this year, are far too young to leave bequests to universities. Yet, that even they appreciate the value of providing opportunities to students following in their footsteps indicates a degree of inter-generational solidarity that bodes well for Singapore education in general and its society at large.
Alumni philanthropy plays an important role in sustaining the economic functioning of universities. Endowments, bequests or even the occasional generous donation towards a scholarship or a bursary help universities worldwide survive government cuts in spending on education. Although Singapore's universities are funded well, even they benefit from the largesse of those who have passed through their doors. A 30-year-old donated $50,000 to his university last year and plans to give another $50,000 to help students go for overseas study missions, which can cost a few thousand dollars per student depending on the destination. He had gained from having gone on three study missions to Hong Kong, Israel and the United States as a business undergraduate. This is a good example of the pay-it-forward attitude.