Budget 2021: $20m fund to match ComChest donations raised through spontaneous acts of giving

The programme encourages companies and individuals to commit to making regular donations. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A $20 million fund will be set aside to match Community Chest (ComChest) donations raised through spontaneous acts daily, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Feb 16).

An example of a spontaneous act of daily giving is when customers make a donation at the point of transaction, he said, adding that businesses have the potential to do more to facilitate such giving.

The new Change for Charity Grant will match the donations raised through this initiative.

The grant will also co-fund one-off development costs needed to integrate or enhance donation functions onto businesses' payment platforms, said Mr Heng.

The ComChest Share as One matching period, which provides dollar-for-dollar matching for new and additional donations through the Share programme, will also be extended to the end of the financial year of 2023.

The programme encourages companies and individuals to commit to making regular donations, and this will spur more giving through the challenging times caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, said Mr Heng.

"ComChest plays a critical role in raising funds for many social service agencies, including for programmes that uplift lower-income families, such as KidStart," he noted.

The 250 per cent tax deduction for donations made to Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) will be extended for another two years until the end of 2023.

It was set to lapse at the end of 2021.

"As it stands, the current level of 250 per cent tax deduction on donations to IPCs in Singapore is high, compared to other jurisdictions," he said, noting that it is part of a multi-pronged approach to encourage charitable giving.

In addition, the Tote Board's enhanced fund-raising programme will be extended by one year. Through this programme, charities can apply to receive dollar-for-dollar matching on eligible donations raised from projects in the 2021 financial year, up to a cap of $250,000 per applicant.

More details will be provided in the debate on the Ministry of Social and Family Development's budget.

While donations to certain platforms such as Giving.sg and for specific causes like Covid-19 have risen, Mr Heng noted that donations to many charities in general and income streams for their recurrent programmes have fallen.

"Some charities even had to dip into their reserves to keep operations going. This affects the help that goes to those who need it," he said, calling on individuals and corporates to do more for charity where possible.

To encourage more corporate volunteerism, the Business and IPC Partnership Scheme, where staff use skills to help out at IPCs, will be extended for another two years until the end of 2023.

Mr Heng also lauded ground-up community efforts by voluntary organisations, corporate partners and individuals to meet the "last-mile" needs of different groups, such as a group of NS buddies who pooled close to $1 million to set up a surgical mask manufacturing facility here and donated many of the masks to the community.

To provide greater support for bottom-up initiatives, a $50 million fund will be set aside for the CDCs' Care and Innovation Fund where the Government will provide $3 for every $1 raised, he said.

Said Mr Heng: "Despite the stresses that Singaporeans face in this period, we continue to hear many heart-warming stories of our people stepping up to make a difference... I hope these acts of kindness will inspire more people to step forward."

Read next: Highlights of Budget 2021 - From household vouchers to GST on imported low-value goods bought online

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