Singapore hopes to double its volunteerism rate from one in three currently to seven in 10 in five years' time, in an effort to create a caring and empowering environment for its rapidly ageing population.
"We hope for Singapore to grow as a giving nation with a volunteer in every household," Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said in a keynote address yesterday at the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network's conference.
"We believe technology can empower and enable citizens to do good by providing time, money and resources to meet the needs of their neighbours and build stronger social bonds," she added.
The conference at Suntec Singapore, which began on Monday and ends tomorrow, is the largest gathering of social investors in Asia, bringing together 1,000 delegates from 40 countries to address issues related to climate action, education and wealth disparity, among others.
Ms Fu noted the challenge faced by many countries: "In the face of technological advances that disrupt our businesses, our jobs, the way we communicate with one another; in the face of an ageing population that will change the societal structure and dramatically increase the need for social services; in the face of globalisation that may result in uneven economic progress for segments of society; our challenge is to activate and strengthen the social compact in the face of increasing social and technological divides."
Ms Fu said collaboration across the private and public sectors is key to achieving impact in the social sector. "Corporations could step up and partner government and non-profit organisations to do more for the community."
She added: "Business leaders should move beyond conducting ad hoc, one-off sponsorship or events to incorporating sustained giving programmes as an integral part of their corporate strategy and identity."
She said social enterprises can play a critical role to achieve inclusive growth. "They bridge the people and private sectors, and deliver on both purpose and profit.
"Corporates can help grow the capacity of this important sector by providing strategic counsel and business mentorship to social entrepreneurs," she said.