More giving time, money directly to causes they support: Survey

SIAU MING EN Today Online 16 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — More people are now giving their time and money to directly support causes that resonate with them or to start their own campaigns, rather than doing so through organisations.

This was one of the findings from the latest Individual Giving Survey conducted by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC).

Speaking to the media yesterday, Mr Jeffrey Tan, director for knowledge and advocacy at NVPC, said that the centre has observed a “giving revolution” based on its biennial study. The last survey was done in 2014.

“There is a very strong ground-up resurgence happening right now, where people are volunteering and donating informally, directly with beneficiaries, without going through the formal routes (such as charity organisations),” he added.

Of the 389 people surveyed from last December to January this year, almost three in four have volunteered or donated informally. The survey questioned respondents’ about their giving behaviour over a 12-month period from December 2015 to last November.

Volunteering informally — as defined by the NVPC — could involve, say, people coming together to help stray dogs on the street instead of doing so via an animal welfare group.

About half (51 per cent) of the respondents had volunteered directly with beneficiaries, up from the 25 per cent in the 2014 survey.

Likewise, 41 per cent of the respondents donated money through informal means, a three-fold increase from the 13 per cent in 2014.

Asked which were the top sectors to which they gave their time and money, more respondents replied that they gave directly to causes and beneficiaries they chose to support.

Religious organisations, education, health and the social services sectors were the next most popular sectors.

Stand Up for Our SG is one example of the social movements and causes supported by donors. Founded in 2012, it managed to raise S$32,000 for hawkers who lost their stalls and livelihoods during the fire in Jurong West last year, for example.

Its founder, Wally Tham, said that the group does not have a fixed pool of volunteers, and encourages people to step forward each time there is a new project.

“Usually, the people who come to us don’t regularly volunteer,” he added.

The “resurgence” of informal volunteerism could also have contributed to an overall increase in volunteerism, the survey found — 35 per cent of the respondents volunteered last year, compared with 18 per cent in 2014.

However, on average, a volunteer served fewer hours a year — a drop from 93 hours in 2014 to 84 hours last year.

Findings from the survey also showed that people were turning more towards niche and “under-served” causes. These include green efforts such as environmental protection. More people also volunteered their time in the arts and heritage sectors, and in animal care.

In all, people are also giving more money: S$2.18 billion was donated to organisations last year, almost double the S$1.25 billion in 2014.

On average, an individual donated S$910 to organisations last year, which is more than double the S$379 in 2014.

When the survey results were broken down by age groups, there were higher volunteerism drop-out rates for those aged between 25 and 34, as well as those aged between 55 and 64.

Mr Tan said that this could be because younger workers are hesitant to take the lead in volunteer work, for fear of being seen as “goody two-shoes”.

As for the older group, they might want to use their retirement years to relax.

NVPC chief executive officer Melissa Kwee added that this older group might also feel that they have lost a sense of identity upon retirement.

“From a sense-of-self-worth perspective, the involvement in the community addresses those particular issues, (where) you can use your skills and experience to contribute back (to society) … (People) really value somebody with more skills and experience as opposed to seeing you as being a useless old person,” she added.

More Singaporeans helping others, while those giving are digging deeper
Audrey Tan, THE NEW PAPER AsiaOne 16 Mar 17;

Fewer people are donating to charity, but those who do, are giving more generously.

When it comes to volunteering, the reverse is true.

More people are giving their time, although in shorter periods.

But these developments over the last two years, driven by what experts believe is a resurgence of the kampung spirit, still mean a win-win for charities, according to a biennial study commissioned by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC).

Donations went up from $1.25 billion in 2014 to $2.18 billion last year - a rise of nearly 75 per cent. This was despite 76 per cent of last year's respondents saying they had donated money, compared to 83 per cent in 2014.

The time put in by volunteers went up more dramatically. In 2014, when the last survey was done, they clocked 66 million hours. Last year, the figure nearly doubled to 121 million hours - despite the number of hours put in by each volunteer falling from 93 to 84 hours.

The ninth edition of the study, called the Individual Giving Survey and which polled 389 respondents living and working in Singapore, also showed a rise in informal volunteerism.

Almost three in four volunteered or donated through such informal channels.

These are ground-up efforts in which, instead of working with or donating to an organisation, people helped others on their own, including banding with neighbours to form community networks to look out for seniors.

Or, instead of donating to animal welfare groups, people rescue injured stray dogs and cats on their own.

About half of volunteers gave their time to such efforts last year, compared to a quarter in 2014.

"This reflects a positive trend for civic participation in Singapore, as more people are starting ground-up efforts or volunteering directly," NVPC said.

"It shows that the kampung spirit is coming back," said NVPC director for knowledge and advocacy Jeffrey Tan.

Dr Kang Soon-Hock, head of the social science core at SIM University, said the rise in informal volunteerism could be due to the awareness created by social media for certain social causes.

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