Singapore – Indicators of International Philanthropy from Asia

Singapore – Indicators of International Philanthropy from Asia

This is the second in a series of twelve articles looking at factors influencing international philanthropy across ten Asian countries, paying particular attention to giving in the areas of international aid and education.

The study identifies nine country specific factors affecting the propensity of people to give offshore funds to these two causes. By using nine general indicators and adding the aid or education indicator, organisations working in either sector can assess background issues determining their ability to raise philanthropic gifts in a particular country. For a full explanation of indicators used, please refer to Article 1: Introduction to the series.

 

Assessment of international philanthropy from Singapore

 

Political & Economic Security

Rating: 4.5

Comments: Steady economy with minimal corruption, high education and healthcare standards. All racial groups and religious groups as well as minority communities are represented in politics. One of the lowest corruption levels in the world [1]Euromoney Country Risk.

Capital Accumulation

Rating: 3

Comments: 1,350 ultra high net worth individuals with collective wealth of $160 billion. Singapore could have a higher rating on the basis that it is a compact city state so wealth is concentrated and the wealthy people are socially networked [2]Wealth-X. 2011. World Ultra Wealth Report 2011: Uncovering Pockets of Opportunities.

Incentives

Rating: 4

Comments: Very high level of incentives available for charitable giving. The Singapore government provides generous tax deductions to individuals who donate to registered organisations, those with the status of Institute of Public Character (currently 2.5 x tax exemption). Businesses also receive substantial tax deductions if they donate to approved charities. Approved charities are given tax-free status. Highly regulated environment and the registration of charities is tightly controlled. This rating would have been 5 except the status of Institute of Public Character, which provides tax deductibility of donations, is available only to organisations that provide benefit to Singapore. [3]The Economist, Economist Intelligence Unit. 2011. Something’s gotta give: The state of philanthropy in Asia. [4]UBS Insead. 2011. Study on Family Philanthropy in Asia

Trust in NGOs

Rating: 4

Comments: Lack of exposure and underdevelopment of charity sector in many places. This partly explains low level of charitable donations in Singapore. Establishment of Commissioner of Charities and strong response to financial abuse at National Kidney Foundation helped establish trust in regulation of Singapore charities. [5]The Economist, Economist Intelligence Unit. 2011. Something’s gotta give: The state of philanthropy in Asia. [6]O’Halloran, K, M McGregor-Lowndes and KW Simon. 2008. “Charity Law and Social Policy: National and International Perspectives on the Functions of the Law Relating to Charities.”: 333 [7]Cheng, Willie. 2009. Doing Good Well. Singapore: Jossey-Bass: 224

Priority of Human Development

Rating: 2

Comments: In Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan there is a greater degree of emphasis on investment in university educations, special needs education and education in less advantaged countries. Government match-funding initiative available to donations to university sector. [8]UBS Insead. 2011. Study on Family Philanthropy in Asia

Propensity to Give Internationally

Rating: 3

Comments: Wealthier countries in Asia, like Singapore, are beginning to orient more of their activities towards less advantaged countries in the region. The requirement that at least 80% of a Foundation’s assistance be focused on Singapore has been lifted, but few foundations will give more than 20% internationally. Status of Institute of Public Character which provides tax deductibility of donations is available only to organisations that provide benefit to Singapore. [9]UBS Insead. 2011. Study on Family Philanthropy in Asia

Overall Level of Philanthropy

Rating: 3

Comments: Traditionally low to moderate level of philanthropy in Singapore, but there is evidence this is substantially increasing. Charity contributions have increased in Singapore every year since 2006. Individual charitable donations have more than doubled in Singapore in less than a decade, from US$348m in 2004 to US$847m in 2010. Size of donations has also increased. 35% of donations are from individual sources and 65% are from corporations. Singapore ranked 91 out of 153 in the World Giving Index for 2010, with 35% of the population donating money to charity. There is substantial Government support for strengthening charities (note establishment of Charity Commission), volunteerism and philanthropy (note National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre). [10]The Economist, Economist Intelligence Unit. 2011. Something’s gotta give: The state of philanthropy in Asia. [11]UBS Insead. 2011. Study on Family Philanthropy in Asia [12]Charities Aid Foundation. 2010. The World Giving Index: 2010.

Fundraising Practice

Rating: 4

Comments: Singapore is considered a leader in fundraising practice in Asia, with sophisticated fundraising in charities, schools and universities. However, effectiveness is limited by over-reliance on event-style fundraising and lack of experienced staff (many expatriates are employed in these roles). With the downturn in economy some private bankers have made a successful transition to fundraising executives. The USA-based Association of Fundraising Professionals has a small chapter in Singapore, and the education-focused Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has its Asia-Pacific office in Singapore. Fundraising regulations in Singapore are detailed but workable. [13]Purnell, Newley. 2011. “Starting from Scratch: Fund-Raising Lessons Learned in Singapore.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 18. [14]Commissioner of Charities Office, Guidance on Regulation of International Charitable Organisations (ICOs) [15]O’Halloran, K, M McGregor-Lowndes and KW Simon. 2008. “Charity Law and Social Policy: National and International Perspectives on the Functions of the Law Relating to Charities.”: 333

Development of Giving Foundations

Rating: 4

Comments: There are a small number of very large giving foundations in Singapore. The largest of these family foundations are: the Lee Foundation, the Shaw Foundation, the Khoo Teck Puat Foundation, the Lien Foundation and the Tan Chin Tuan.

Financial Openness

Rating: 5

Comments: Singapore received the highest possible score of +2.5 in the Chinn-Ito (KAOPEN) index for financial openness, indicating that it is a country with a high degree of capital account openess and minimal controls for cross-border transactions. The Singapore government requires any organisation or person tranferring money over SGD 30,000 to report it to the Commercial Affairs Department. This is an attempt to curb illegal activity, and is not meant as a currency control measure. [16]Singapore Police Force. 2012. Reporting of Cross Border Movement of Physical Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments. [17]Chinn, Menzie D and Hiro Ito. 2008. “A New Measure of Financial Openness.” Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice 10 (3): 309-322. [18]Chinn, Menzie D and Hiro Ito. 2010. “Notes on the Chinn-Ito Financial Openness Index 2008 Update.

 

Giving to Education

Rating: 4.5

Comments: There is a high to very high priority on giving to education in Singapore. A study conducted by UBS-Insead suggested that 50% of giving from family philanthropies in Singapore in 2010 was directed towards education. [19]UBS Insead. 2011. Study on Family Philanthropy in Asia

 

The total scores for Singapore are:

  • Index of International philanthropy for aid from Asia 36.5

  • Index of international philanthropy for education from Asia 39

Jacqueline Cameron

Jacqueline Cameron

Consultant & Research Manager at AskRIGHT
Jacqueline is a dedicated, motivated and results oriented fundraising professional. She enjoys the variety in fundraising, and brings broad experience to clients on all aspects: from identifying prospects to liaising with donors, advising on collateral, writing case statements and bequest brochures, data mining and analytics, and developing fundraising strategies.

To find out how Jacqueline can help your organisation, email j.cameron@AskRIGHT.com.
Jacqueline Cameron
Dr Daniel McDiarmid

Dr Daniel McDiarmid

Principal Consultant at AskRIGHT
Daniel is a highly experienced and innovative fundraising professional with more than 30 years of success raising funds for higher education, research, religious and other organisations in Australia and New Zealand.

To find out how Daniel can help your organisation, contact d.mcdiarmid@AskRIGHT.com.
Dr Daniel McDiarmid

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