Coronavirus: Singaporeans donate their Solidarity payouts to charities

Some start fund-raisers on crowdfunding platforms, urging others to do the same

Ms Sharon Shum, a 29-year-old content manager who donated her $600 Solidarity Payment to Aware and started an online fund-raiser encouraging others to donate to various charities, said: "I don't need an additional $600 to survive right now, but there
Ms Sharon Shum, a 29-year-old content manager who donated her $600 Solidarity Payment to Aware and started an online fund-raiser encouraging others to donate to various charities, said: "I don't need an additional $600 to survive right now, but there are people who do."ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Like most Singaporeans, Ms Sharon Shum, 29, received a $600 Solidarity Payment from the Government on Tuesday - a sum issued to help households cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Not only did she donate the full sum to gender equality advocacy group Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), but she also started an online fund-raiser on crowdfunding platform Give.Asia urging others to contribute their Solidarity Payment to five charities or non-governmental organisations - Aware, Hagar Singapore, the Singapore Red Cross, Boys' Town and the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home).

"I naturally have bucketloads of anxiety about the situation the world is in, but my basic privileges are intact - I still have a full-time job and am busier than ever working from home.

"I don't need an additional $600 to survive right now, but there are people who do," said Ms Shum, a content manager.

Since the campaign kicked off on Monday, it has raised more than $64,184.

There are currently at least six other campaigns on Give.Asia that call on donors to give their Solidarity Payment to charity and about four similar ones on the Giving.sg platform run by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC).

In total, more than $130,000 has been raised on the Give.Asia platform as part of its #wegiveinsolidarity movement, while the four campaigns on Giving.sg have raised more than $10,000 so far.

In recent weeks, charities have also been appealing to Singaporeans to pledge their Solidarity Payment to them, with some seeing a spike in donations over the past few days. But help is still sorely needed to support vulnerable groups and operations amid the outbreak, they said.

Ms Choo Shiu Ling, chief executive of Assisi Hospice, said the charity started calling for the donation of Solidarity Payment on April 7, a day after the $600 payout was announced on April 6.

Between April 6 and 8, the hospice received donations from six to 12 people a day for its Support Assisi Masked Heroes campaign, an increase from the average of four donors a day before the announcement, she said.

Aware, which has seen a surge in helpline calls in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, also saw a spike in donations for its Vulnerable Women's Fund on Tuesday. Close to $10,000 came in on that one day from 73 individuals, said its executive director Corinna Lim.

Ms Suwen Low, head of communications and engagement at HealthServe, which helps migrant workers, also noticed a spike in donations on Tuesday for a fund-raising campaign launched last Saturday, which calls on Singaporeans to donate their Solidarity Payment to support HealthServe's general operations.

 
 

While donations have been picking up towards the end of March, data from Giving.sg also indicated a drop in donations for over 30 per cent of charities on the platform, said Mr Jeffrey Tan, director of marketing and advocacy at NVPC.

"Some charities may have been overlooked considering the Covid-19 situation, and have seen significant dips in their donations," he added.

Veteran sports administrator Low Teo Ping, 75, who was Singapore's chef de mission at the 2016 Rio Olympics and formerly helmed SingaporeSailing and the Sentosa Golf Club, has also embarked on a campaign to get his contacts to donate funds to the Community Foundation of Singapore. Funds raised will benefit vulnerable seniors and children.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that he has received a number of messages from Singaporeans who would like to donate their payouts.

"I am very heartened that in difficult times like this, so many of you are thinking of others."

• Visit these websites to donate: 

The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund campaign 

SGUnited

GIVE.asia

Giving.sg

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2020, with the headline 'S'poreans donate their Solidarity payouts'. Subscribe