New generation of philanthropists more hands-on and don't just write cheques: President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob (centre) at the Credit Suisse Philanthropists Connect 2022 event at Raffles Hotel on Aug 31. With her are (from left) Credit Suisse's senior adviser Helman Sitohang, chief executive for Asia-Pacific Edwin Low and head of wealth management Benjamin Cavalli. PHOTO: CREDIT SUISSE
President Halimah Yacob and veteran diplomat Tommy Koh (third from left) at the Credit Suisse Philantrophists Connect Forum. PHOTO: HALIMAH YACOB/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The new generation of those with inherited wealth view philanthropy differently, with most being opposed to simply writing cheques and instead preferring to be involved in developing solutions.

President Halimah Yacob said there has been a mindset shift. In the past, individuals became more active in philanthropy after attaining business success. Now, they put high importance on looking after the communities they operate in.

Speaking at the Credit Suisse Philanthropists Connect 2022 in Raffles Hotel on Wednesday, Madam Halimah said: "NextGen (next generation) philanthropists start from a different baseline - they no longer compartmentalise how they deploy capital between their investment portfolio and philanthropy.

"Instead, they embed philanthropic impact into business strategy, moving beyond corporate social responsibility to seeking purpose in tandem with business growth."

She said the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Economic Development Board are working with stakeholders to enhance the country's philanthropic ecosystem as part of the Government's efforts to support the space and channel wealth to good causes.

The partnership will help in initiatives such as developing solutions to monitor social impact, as well as facilitate philanthropic partnerships and investments.

More wealthy families set up philanthropic foundations during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Office of the Commissioner of Charities granting charity status to 12 groups last year. This is up from eight in 2020 and three in 2019.

A report on emerging trends in philanthropy across Asia by Credit Suisse, SymAsia Foundation and Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) found that the continent is growing wealthier, with the population of ultra-high net worth individuals expected to grow by 38 per cent over the next five years.

The model of only writing cheques and providing financial capital is no longer the common approach, and philanthropists now do not separate business operations from social impact.

Instead, those with deep pockets are increasingly sharing their social networks to enable organisations to create greater impact. They also have more latitude to fund high-risk, out-of-the-box ideas in the hope of more solutions to help people, the report found.

AVPN chief executive Naina Subberwal Batra said: "Asian philanthropy is now at an important crossroads as many philanthropists are keen to apply a social impact lens to all of their personal, business and investment decisions.

"The time to leverage all forms of capital towards innovative social and environmental solutions, as well as to collaborate and scale these solutions, is now."

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