SINGAPORE - Donations on fund-raising website Giving.sg jumped sharply in February compared to a year ago amid the coronavirus outbreak, hitting more than $2.2 million.
The number of people who volunteered with the site also rose to reach 1,000 volunteer sign-ups.
The National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), which runs the site, said on Monday (March 2) that this shows that "the Singaporean spirit is shining bright amid dark times" and that adversity breeds altruism.
Giving.sg is a one-stop platform supporting over 500 organisations here, including charities like The Food Bank and Food From The Heart. It aims to make volunteering and donating here more convenient.
The latest figures released by the NVPC show that the $2,248,357 raised in February is 67 per cent, or almost $900,000, more than that raised in the same period last year. This is also 91 per cent, or just over $1 million, more than the amount raised in February 2018.
The 1,080 people who registered as volunteers on the site in February is also 10 per cent higher than the 990 in February last year and 40 per cent higher than the 766 people who volunteered in February 2018.
The NVPC said: "While three-year donation figures for the month of February have been on the rise, this year's leap is higher than usual at 67 per cent, compared to a more modest 14 per cent increase between 2018 and 2019, signalling that Singaporeans are more willing to help others during uncertain times."
Among the efforts listed on Giving.sg that directly help those affected by Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are O'Joy Care Services pumping hand sanitisers into smaller bottles and then distributing them to the elderly, as well as initiative Refresh Flowers, which repurposed 175 bouquets donated by Singaporeans on Valentine's Day for healthcare staff.
The Sayang Sayang Fund, set up by Community Foundation Singapore, also managed to raise nearly $200,000 for the safety and transport of healthcare workers on Giving.sg in just three weeks.
The NVPC said 15 per cent of the amount raised in February was from the 19 fundraising campaigns that are part of the SG United movement. On Feb 20, the Government launched an SG United website to streamline community contributions to the help those affected by the virus, including linking to coronavirus related initiatives on Giving.sg
The remaining funds raised on Giving.sg went to other causes not necessarily linked to Covid-19, with these five categories receiving the most: children and youth, the elderly, community, social service, and families.
The top five charities that got the most of the remaining 85 per cent of funds in February were: the Singapore Red Cross Society, Presbyterian Community Services, Save Our Street Dogs, Boys’ Town, and the Community Chest.
Much of the volunteering efforts from Giving.sg also went to causes not directly linked to Covid-19.
For instance, Food From The Heart used Giving.sg to recruit volunteers for its food packing sessions after about 80 per cent of volunteer sessions were cancelled in the first week of February, with volunteers dropping out as more cases of Covid-19 in Singapore were confirmed.
Food From The Heart told The Straits Times that through its Facebook page and Giving.sg, it made an “urgent call for replacement volunteers” and was able to get about 400 volunteers to pack 4,000 food packs between Feb 10 and 29.
It said that although front-line health workers are affected by Covid-19, the impact on “some (sectors) is less direct, including the social service sector that relies heavily on volunteers”.
“At such times, many want to help in whatever way they can, whether as a volunteer or to donate. It bonds people towards a common cause,” said the charity.
While there was a 12 per cent dip in the number of fundraising campaigns on Giving.sg last month compared to a year ago – 133 for February 2020 compared with 151 in February 2019, the number was up 79 per cent over the 74 campaigns in February 2018.
There have been other moves to raise funds to help those affected by the coronavirus.
About $3.2 million has been raised so far for The Courage Fund, which aims to help front-line workers combating the coronavirus outbreak, according to an update last Saturday.
The fund was set up in 2003 for healthcare workers and victims who battled Sars or the severe acute respiratory syndrome.
But the fund is now being used again to help front-line workers, including doctors, nurses and cleaners, affected by Covid-19.
The Singapore Red Cross also said in February that it had raised more than $6 million in donations here to help communities in China, the epicentre of the outbreak, affected by the virus.