Parliament: New initiatives to promote volunteerism and corporate giving

Mrs Angela Perumal-Schooling, volunteer and Singapore Press Holdings' pre-press foreman, playing with some of the young beneficiaries from charity organisations on Dec 17, 2013. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Individuals and companies will get more support from the Government to meet social needs and promote volunteerism.

Projects that build national identity or meet needs in society can tap the new Our Singapore Fund and receive up to 80 per cent of the project cost, capped at $50,000 per project.

Businesses will also receive help to set up or strengthen their corporate giving programmes, under a new initiative called Company Of Good.

Being a caring and cohesive community, alongside having a strong sense of national identity and pride, "will determine whether Singapore continues to thrive in the next 50 years", Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said during the debate on her ministry's budget on Thursday (April 14).

She added: "From the many meaningful projects that surfaced during SG50... we know there is a rich store of enthusiasm and public spirit. We want to unlock it with a little support to translate these ideas into reality."

The Our Singapore Fund of $25 million, first announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech on March 24, will be set up by the second half of the year. Part of it will be set aside for ground-up initiatives by citizens and non-profit groups. The projects should promote the "Singapore spirit", foster a sense of ownership in the community, and have the potential to sustain and scale over time.

Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann also announced a new Company Of Good programme to promote corporate volunteerism. She said: "We regularly speak of corporate transformation in terms of productivity and innovation. It is just as important that businesses in our future economy are civic-minded and play active roles in our communities."

The programme, to be launched in June, is organised by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), in partnership with the Singapore Business Federation Foundation. All companies can sign up for it, regardless of whether they currently practise corporate giving.

They will be able to take an online quiz to assess their corporate giving programmes, and may qualify to display a "Company Of Good" logo on their corporate materials.

NVPC will set up a course to train about 200 companies in two years in corporate giving. Topics covered could include how to set up a corporate giving programme that engages staff, and how to promote skills-based volunteerism. Training fees will be subsidised by NVPC, which will give more details of the programme next month.

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