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Fusing Corporate Social Responsibility And Needs Of Less Fortunate Children In Singapore

April 1, 2010

Entrepreneurs' Digest
CONTRIBUTOR: Woon Tai Ho

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)hasbeenahotlypromoted subject in recent years. With the trend of SMEs evolving to become more global and progressive, many have included CSR as part of their total enterprise agenda. However, it was not too long ago, that most SME owners did not see the necessity or feel that they should expend time and resource which could otherwise have been reinvested in the business itself. “It is when they take that first step and perform their first CSR activity, that companies will discover the added-boost to their overall business framework and underlying strength” says Kurt Wee, Vice President for Communications at ASME. “Companies benefit in grounding and realigning their workforce and internal corporate culture when they take time to perform tasks of service, giving and humility. They would also enjoy greater stickiness and loyalty from their informed customers.”

It was over a cup of coffee when Kurt, who also serves in the Executive Committee and chairs the Appeals Sub- Committee at the Singapore Children’s Society, and Mr Koh Choon Hui, the charity’s chairman, seeded the idea to fuse CSR goals of businesses in Singapore with the charity’s objectives to serve the needs of less fortunate children.

“We have been exploring ways to engage more local enterprises to support children in need and we thought what better way than to put together a framework which allows companies to easily tap in and channel their CSR agenda.” explained Mr Koh. “We were also challenged by the recent global economic events and faced the trend of decreasing donations coupled with increasing needs in a recessionary environment. The charity has an expenditure of about $10million a year and we had to think outside of our traditional means to meet the challenge.”

Subsequently, on a business trip in Southern China, Kurt crafted a text message and sent numerous messages to all the business contacts he had developed over the years, and to his surprise he instantly raised over $40,000 just via text- messaging. The idea had become not only possible but urgent and exciting. OCBC Bank, Noble Group, SPC and Pei Hwa Foundation were also roped in to provide seed money for the project inception.

Supported by ASME, the “1000 Enterprise for Children-in-Need” project was officially launched in February 2009 by the Singapore Children’s Society. With the aim of rallying 1000 or more businesses to adopt Singapore Children’s Society as their official charity and a pledge to give yearly, the project hopes to receive between $1,000 to $10,000 from each participant that will fund the needs of the less fortunate children that the charity serves.

“Operating a successful business in Singapore also means negotiating your business in a generally higher cost environment relative to other parts of Asia. Participating in this project allows all companies to give in a modest way relative to their total business costs.” shared Mr Chan Chong Beng, Chairman of Goodrich Global Pte Ltd, which committed an annual donation of $10,000 as a Leading Enterprise participant of the project.

Over the last 12 months, the project garnered over 280 participants but still fell short of rallying 1000 companies. Facing the trend of decreasing donations in 2009, Kurt then sought the help of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean to be the Patron of the project to rally more companies on board to which DPM Teo readily agreed. “It doesn’t matter if the contribution is big or small, corporate social contribution must be a part of all companies,” says the new Patron of 1000 Enterprises for Children-in-Need, DPM Teo. “The target is 1000 participating business organisations. After a year of launch, we are now standing at almost 300 companies. My hope is, in this second year of the project, we will hit our target of 1000 companies and that this can be sustained year-on-year.” says DPM Teo.

DPM Teo says that children are the future of our country. Most Singaporeans, he says, live in comfort and may not be conscious that there are children that are not as fortunate and require help. Helping the less fortunate, especially children, is something all Singaporeans and Enterprises should embrace. “By helping, we enrich ourselves,” he adds.

Now with DPM as Patron, the project looks good to sail past the 1000 company mark as it enters 2010. The Singapore Children Society has been providing different and a wide variety of services to needy children since 1952. With this new injection of including it in companies’ CSR initiatives, the charity is set to bring more smiles to many more children in need.

About 1000 Enterprises for Children-in-Need

Singapore Children’s Society initiated the “1000 Enterprises for Children-in-need” project on 26 December 2008 and officially launched it in February 2009. Presented by Noble Group and SPC with OCBC Bank as the Community Partner, the project hopes to amalgamate a total collaborative effort of 1000 business enterprises to meet the needs of the less fortunate children that the charity serves. Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Defence, DPM Teo Chee Hean, is the Patron of the project.

Companies may participate as a Leading Enterprise donating $10,000 upwards annually or as a Participating Enterprise donating between $1,000 to $9,999 annually. This project also encourages all participants to adopt Singapore Children Society as their official charity.

For any interest and queries please visit http://1000e.org.sg or contact our Fund Raising Executive, Ms Evon Chua at 62732010 or via email at echua@childrensociety.org.sg at the Singapore Children’s Society.

About Singapore Children’s Society

Over the years, Singapore Children’s Society helped protect and nurture children and youth of all races and religions, especially those who are abused, neglected, and/or from dysfunctional families. Each year the charity reaches out to about 46,000 children, youth and families in need. Established in 1952, the charity’s services have since expanded islandwide via the six service categories of: Caregiving, Preventive, Developmental, Remedial, Community and Public Education.

Singapore Children’s Society is managed by an Executive Committee. All committee members are volunteers and come from diverse backgrounds such as education, law, healthcare, business and more. The charity’s Patron-in-Chief is Mr. S. R. Nathan, the President of Singapore.

he charity employs approximately 110 staffs and has an annual expenditure of approximately $10 million.


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