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Temasek Trust Conversation 2019

Technology and Social Innovation — A Focus on Singapore’s Landscape of Giving

Technology and Social Innovation — A Focus on Singapore’s Landscape of Giving

(Speakers of the panel discussion. From left to right: Ms Catherine Loh, Dr Ang Hak Seng, Ms Anita Fam, Mr Fong Yong Kian and Ms Melissa Kwee.)

Like every other sector, the social sector has benefitted from advancements in technology and other innovations. Organisations are pitching in to provide resources and support for charities in Singapore, in order to facilitate their adoption of technology and social innovation.

Tote Board and the Tote Board group for example, have been working on iShine Cloud, which provides charities with an affordable and integrated suite of sector-specific solutions via a secure cloud-based IT platform; also, the National Council of Social Services (NCSS) has two new initiatives — Tech Booster and Project Back-to-Basics — that offer ready technologies and innovative solutions at attractive subsidies to alleviate manpower challenges in the sector; at the same time, the Singapore Cares (SG Cares) national movement by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) has seen the launch of a mobile app that matchmakes do-gooders and causes; and finally, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) has created, a one-stop online platform to match donors and volunteers with charities.

While technology undeniably resolves some obstacles faced by the philanthropic sector, it is pivotal to recognise that technology is a means rather than an end to achieve social impact. To build a trusted environment for giving, Dr Ang Hak Seng proposed a shift from regulations to co-regulations in Singapore’s charity sector, avoiding the danger of overburdening charities with regulations.

Fundamentally, the charity sector centres itself on humanitarian issues. Ms Melissa Kwee made an acute observation that people and purpose should be placed at the forefront of the motivations in utilising technology, and hence connecting with beneficiaries and forging partnerships should remain the primary focus of charities.

For separate reasons, Ms Anita Fam and Mr Fong Yong Kian stressed the need for a mindset change. An inherently change-resistant charity sector and an inclination for technology to be perceived as merely a tool have made it necessary for businesses and charities to appreciate technology as a strategic enabler, where partnerships and leadership in the social sector work in tandem to ensure sustainability for organisations in the long run. While it takes a village to raise a child, in the charity sector- it takes a village to make a difference.



About Temasek Trust Conversation

Temasek Trust Conversation is one of Asia’s philanthropic-focused conferences to facilitate dialogue and insightful panel discussions among experienced practitioners and thought-leaders on today’s giving landscape. Organised by Temasek Trust, the Temasek Trust Conversation is a signature event held annually to inspire and enable giving.

About the Speakers


Dr Ang Hak Seng is the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth leading MCCY’s efforts in Singapore Cares (SG Cares).

Ms Anita Fam is the President of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) Board and the Chairman of Assisi Hospice.

Mr Fong Yong Kian joined Tote Board as its Chief Executive on 1 January 2014, bringing with him over 25 years of experience and expertise serving in the public sector.

Ms Melissa Kwee is the third Chief Executive Officer of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC).


Ms Catherine Loh is the Chief Executive Officer of the Community Foundation of Singapore, with more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry.

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