In the light of the gloomy economic outlook, voluntary welfare organisations (VWO) in Singapore must come up with "innovative ways" to attract donors, said Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society (THK) chairman Lee Kim Siang.
At Junction 8 in Bishan yesterday, THK launched a roadshow highlighting its services, with an example of such innovation - the introduction of two claw machines that offer users a chance to win stuffed toys at $2 a try.
The money raised will go towards services such as THK's free meal centres and free clinics, which do not receive government funding.
Mr Lee said the roadshow and the machines were a "minor expenditure" to attract people to find out more about THK's services and programmes. An anonymous donor sponsored about $10,000 to buy 10 claw machines.
VWOs, Mr Lee said, must raise awareness of what they are doing to help the needy, adding that THK had not yet been affected by the sluggish economy.
"We are OK. In good times and bad times, people help us," he said. He added that, during this time, the public may be more likely to help bigger VWOs which they are more familiar with.
Mr Saktiandi Supaat, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, agreed that VWOs could do more to raise funds, given the economic slowdown. He said: "Creative methods of fund raising could be one way."
Other charities are also looking at innovative ways of reaching out.
During the Christmas season, private-hire car service Uber roped in drivers to collect toys and books to donate to the Singapore Red Cross, while HCA Hospice Care aims to hold a golf tournament this year.
THK's roadshow and claw machines will be at Junction 8 until Sunday. From Jan 16, they will be at AMK Hub in Ang Mo Kio, as well as Northpoint in Yishun, for between one and three months.
In the future, THK hopes to place the machines at other malls, as well as places such as community centres and swimming complexes.
Mr Prakash Gedam, whose two children tried out the claw machines at Junction 8, said it was a good way to raise funds. Said the 41-year-old, who works in a bank: "The kids can enjoy themselves while the parents give to charity."