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Building the capabilities of the non-profit sector

Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law, at the MOU Signing Ceremony between SG Cares Office and SUSS for the Centre of Excellence for Social Good

Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, SUSS
Professor Tsui Kai Chong, Provost, SUSS
Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. Good afternoon everyone. A warm welcome and it is a great pleasure to be here today to see the launch of the Centre of Excellence for Social Good, and to witness the MOU signing between SG Cares Office and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). I believe this is a landmark moment and one that I’m sure in years to come, we look back on as something that will kickstart the start of a great collaboration.
  2. The Centre of Excellence for Social Good aims to uplift non-profit organisations (NPOs) through higher learning programmes. This partnership between SG Cares Office and SUSS will facilitate partnerships with corporates that wish to contribute to the non-profit sector.

    Non-profit sector: Capability building is crucial for the non-profit sector to effectively meet the needs of the vulnerable

  3. COVID-19 has impacted all our lives in so many ways, especially those from vulnerable groups such as low-income families, seniors living alone, and persons with disabilities. The impact has been uneven but I would say and I think you would agree particularly for this group, it has been quite hard. I would like to start by acknowledging the very good work of NPOs across Singapore, which aims to ensure that no one is left behind during this crisis. At the same time, NPOs also face challenges of their own, and they need our support to thrive in this new normal.

    a) First, as the economy remains uncertain and it will be so for the foreseeable future, fewer Singaporeans might choose to donate. A poll conducted by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre earlier this year found that the percentage of Singaporeans willing to donate dropped by nearly one-third, from 32% in April to 23% in July.

    b) Second, safe measures have led to a fall in volunteerism due to restrictions in carrying out physical volunteering activities.
  4. In times of change and uncertainty, there is a pressing need for NPOs to improve their capabilities. In doing so, NPOs can better engage givers, adapt the modality of volunteering programmes, and also deliver services that best suit the needs of vulnerable groups.

    a) The launch of the Centre of Excellence for Social Good is indeed timely and crucial in developing capabilities in the non-profit sector. For example, management skills such as design thinking and lean management will help to equip NPOs with the ability to adapt to uncertainty and at the same time leverage opportunities that come their way.

    b) This Centre of Excellence will also engage in research relevant to the local and Asian contexts to advance the non-profit sector in Singapore. Not every idea can be imported - sometimes we have to make it work for our special and unique society.
  5. With NPOs having stronger capabilities, the whole non-profit sector will become more trusted and vibrant. NPOs would also be able to effectively partner one another to address needs in a more coordinated and systematic way.

    3P Partnerships: Partnerships are key in resolving complex social issues

  6. As social issues become more complex, we find that solutions that come from all segments of society working together with the government – they will also need to evolve.

    a) The Centre of Excellence for Social Good will therefore enable the people and private sectors to come together, work together and support social causes. I am confident that this will result in more partnerships where resources are pooled together, capabilities are shared, and good ideas are exchanged to meet the needs of vulnerable groups more effectively.

    b) For example, Singapore Pools set up the “iShine Cloud” to provide charities with software solutions via a secure cloud-based platform at a subsidised rate. By tapping on these services, charities can improve the productivity, governance and efficiency of their back-end operations, something that needs to be done but is not always at the forefront of someone’s mind as you go out there and try to do good in society.

    To everyone: The building of a more caring society is the responsibility of everyone

  7. In addition to growing capabilities and partnerships, I would like to stress that the building of a more caring society is truly the responsibility of everyone. No one is alone responsible for this, and no one can operate in an environment in a solo way.

    a) Everyone has to play a part and we can contribute by putting our own values into action through active volunteerism, and everyday acts of care.

    b) Through SG Cares initiatives, efforts of different strengths can be complemented to make a larger, more coordinated home and have a bigger collective impact. For example, the SG Cares Volunteer Centres were set up in towns to coordinate efforts, to leverage existing networks to build partnerships, and improve the capabilities of the social service agencies.
  8. The success of Singapore is defined by the resilience and cohesiveness of our people especially during tough times. It is also exemplified by the care that we exhibit for each other and that is the hallmark of being truly Singaporean. My Ministry will continue to support Singaporeans in embodying and growing the SG Cares spirit.


  9. Finally, I would like to thank all of you for being here, both in person as well as online, and also congratulate SUSS and SG Cares Office once again for the launch of the Centre of Excellence. Thank you very much and I wish all of you an enjoyable afternoon ahead.


Last updated on 06 November 2020