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Pro Bono Publico

Community Foundation of Singapore (“CFS”) connects donors to beneficiaries and helps them make engaging and meaningful giving in the community. This article discusses how law practices can work with CFS to embark on a corporate donor programme.

The Bridge to Impact Giving


TOUCH home care outing sponsored by the Outing for the Elderly Fund

Eighty-four-year-old Mdm Sellamah Bte Talib was leading an active life. However, a stroke in 2005 changed all that, leaving her homebound and her days spent in a wheelchair. Her daughter, who works full-time, found it challenging to take her out due to her work schedule and Mdm Sellamah’s mobility difficulties. As a result, Mdm Sellamah had to resign herself to spending her days at home, feeling lonely and with no one to talk to.
 
However, in 2010, things started looking up when she took part in a day trip sponsored by the Outing for the Elderly Fund (“OEF”). The programme was set up to specially support frail and needy elderly – wheelchair-bound or with dementia – to go out for regular excursions such as shopping trips to the supermarket or visits to Singapore’s attractions such as the Singapore Zoo and the National Orchid Garden. Mdm Sellamah looked forward to these outings and it even gave her a chance to get “dolled up”.
 
Through the outings, she not only got a chance to breathe fresh air and enjoy the various attractions, she was also able to make friends with other elderly and volunteers. All this lifted her spirits and she felt blessed to be a part of such an opportunity and to be able to benefit from the OEF. OEF is now in its second year, and more people like Mdm Sellamah are counting on OEF.
 
Funding a Worthy Cause
 
The OEF is just one of many programmes supported by the Community Foundation of Singapore (“CFS”), an independent company which was established with the support of the Ministry of Community Development, Youth & Sports (“MCYS”) in 2008. An Institution of a Public Character (“IPC”), the non-profit organisation’s mission is to inspire philanthropy in Singapore and connect donors, comprising corporates and individuals, to worthy causes and programmes. The team at CFS gives donors the tools to make engaging and meaningful giving in the community.
 
Starting a fund through CFS rather than a private foundation provides donors a number of advantages. One, there is no start-up cost and the minimum contribution is S$200,000, which can be pledged over five years. CFS also provides its donors with bi-annual reports so they have the peace of mind that their money is being put to good use.
 
It further adds value to by holding community leadership events such as philanthropy symposiums and roundtable discussions, so donors can network with other donors, learn more about the giving process and put them into practice with their own giving plans.
 
“Philanthropy can turn a life into a legacy. It is a major catalyst in helping move from success to significance. It is spiritually and emotionally fulfilling, and it brings joy to your life,” says Catherine Loh, deputy CEO of CFS. “Currently there are many issues and needs in Singapore including an ageing population, families-at-risk, relative poverty, migrant workers, the physically- or mentally-challenged, animals, environmental concerns and more, and we need people who can help to plug some of these gaps. Donors can make a difference.”
 
Fast Facts about the Community Foundation of 
Singapore:
●Total pledges raised: S$31 million
●Total endowment received: S$12 million
●Total grants made: S$3 million
●Total donor-advised funds set-up: 28
(Figures as of FY2011.)


How Law Practices Can Help
 
Since its inception, CFS has raised over S$31 million in pledges. Some of its named funds include the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund, Changi Airport Group Foundation and the Ascendas Gives Foundation.
 
One of Singapore’s largest law practices, Rajah & Tann LLP, has set up a Foundation which supports pilot projects focused on the development of underprivileged children, providing necessary care and aid to the elderly, and offering assistance to disadvantaged groups and individuals. Rajah & Tann provides seed funding for the projects, allowing them to get off the ground. One such project, which the Foundation partnered with, was the Society of Moral Charities’ Blister Medication Packaging Service. Targeted at patients above 55 years of age, especially those suffering from multiple chronic diseases, the programme aims to reduce non-compliance of medication with its beneficiaries. The weekly service at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital checks medicines for duplication and contraindications, and packs them according to their consumption schedule after which, they are delivered to the homes of the beneficiaries. Survey results showed that the programme improved the lives of a large majority of the participants.
 
CFS has also partnered Straits Law Practice LLC to fund the Law Society Pro Bono Services Office’s coordination of a pilot run of a screening test for the early detection of accused persons with mental disabilities in the criminal justice system.
 
Says CFS’ Loh, “We are pleased with what we have achieved so far and going forward, we would like to work with lawyers to see how CFS can help their clients in setting up a charitable foundation or incorporate charitable giving into their Wills.”
 
How can law practices start a fund at the Community Foundation of Singapore?
 
Starting a fund at the Community Foundation of Singapore is quick, easy and efficient. In most cases, the fund is operational within three working days after the deed is signed and sealed. You will receive a tax-deductible receipt within two weeks after CFS receives your donation.
 
Our seven-step process:
1.Identify your charitable purpose(s) or intent(s).
2.Decide on the value of donation. 
3.Decide if the fund is a flow-through or if it is for perpetuity.
4.Name the fund.
5.Designate a grant advisory committee for your fund, if necessary
6.Complete a simple deed agreement.
7.Activate the fund by making a donation.
 
Once you establish your fund, you may:
●Add to the fund at any time in any dollar amount.
●Specify how grant disbursements should be acknowledged. You may make a grant using your fund’s name, or you may remain anonymous.
●Make grants to any charities with an IPC status.
 
For more information on CFS, go to www.cf.org.sg, call 6550 9529 or e-mail contactus@cf.org.sg.


Rajah & Tann's blister medication packaging service