Collaborating with others to do good enables partners to reach out to more, says panel

One of the trends in philanthropy is the idea of the power of the collective.
One of the trends in philanthropy is the idea of the power of the collective.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The different ways Singaporeans have given back to society during the pandemic was the topic at a panel discussion at the Temasek Trust Conversation on Tuesday (Nov 3).

These include distributing thousands of care packs and the setting up of a new radio station tailored to the needs of senior citizens - keeping them engaged and entertained, and helping them to bridge the digital divide.

The discussion was hosted by philanthropic group The Majurity Trust executive director Martin Tan.

The panellists were Asia-Pacific lead of the Internet giant Google's charitable arm Marija Ralic, Mediacorp chief executive officer Tham Loke Kheng, Ninja Van Singapore co-founder and chief executive officer Lai Chang Wen and Vintage Radio SG co-founder and Radioactive managing director and co-founder Aloysius Tan.

Temasek Trust is the philanthropic arm of Singapore investment firm Temasek.

Mr Martin Tan noted that one of the trends in philanthropy is the idea of the power of the collective - collaborative philanthropy where different partners come together.

Doing so will not just help to reallocate resources more efficiently, but also help to enlarge the pie for beneficiaries.

The various speakers shared about the ways their organisations have played to their strengths in helping the vulnerable and those in need amid the Covid-19 pandemic here.

For example, Mediacorp as a national media platform was able to put out public education in the various languages, as well as helped to raise funds for those with disabilities through the Mediacorp Enable Fund administered by SG Enable, said Ms Tham.

Ninja Van as a logistics company tapped its nationwide network of doorstep delivery fleets to physically take care packs to those in need.

It also collaborated with other partners who were more well-placed to raise awareness of the initiative, such as creating social media campaigns - demonstrating the spirit of collaborative philanthropy, said Mr Lai.

The topic of collaborative philanthropy was also discussed in a conversation with Temasek International executive director and chief executive officer Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, hosted by The Straits Times editor and editor-in-chief of the English/Malay/Tamil Media Group at Singapore Press Holdings Warren Fernandez.

Mr Fernandez said that it is through bringing partners together to tackle a complex issue and devise solutions that these solutions can be implemented on a larger scale and at a quicker speed.

Mr Pillay said one issue during this Covid-19 pandemic that Temasek tackled was the issue of transporting Covid-19 patients.

The team at Temasek, with partners such as SMRT, SBS Transit and other transportation companies and engineering company Hope Technik, managed to retrofit more than 50 vehicles that could safely transport the patients.

Mr Fernandez said that in partnerships, trust and empathy is important, to have a shared sense of purpose.

Mr Pillay added that relationships are a multi-year investment, and that as an individual organisation, "we don't have all the skills and capabilities required".

"We have to augment what we have with others. But what gets us together has to be reliability and trust," he said. A common sense of purpose is also important, he added.

Mr Pillay also elaborated on Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration Desmond Lee's call for a culture of regular giving to be cultivated, which would be a way of ensuring adequate funding for programmes at social service agencies.

"Generous giving is not about the amount but what you can afford to give... I think for us in Singapore, many of us have been a beneficiary of the system we've had in place, this is a good time for us to give back," he said.

Technology is also an enabler for regular giving, making it easier to do so, he added.