Speech by President Halimah Yacob at the PropNex Convention
Mr Ismail Gafoor, Executive Chairman & CEO, PropNex Limited
Mr Philip Tan, Chairman, Community Chest
Ms Charmaine Leung, Managing Director, Community Chest & Group Director, Fundraising & Engagement Group, NCSS
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for inviting me to grace the PropNex 2nd Quarterly Convention. I am glad to see staff and family of PropNex gathered here today to celebrate the spirit of giving and keeping an eye out for those in need.
The culture of giving among corporates in Singapore is a healthy one. According to a Corporate Giving Survey conducted by NVPC in 2017, more than half of corporates now find ways to give back to the community. Even more encouraging is that 64% of these corporate givers have integrated giving into their business. This is an important development, as it signals a more strategic alignment in how companies view profit and purpose, and creates a more sustainable giving culture. We should continue to encourage this, and I am glad that the Government is helping to do so by enhancing the measures that encourage everyone to contribute to the society. For example, it has extended the current tax deduction of 250% for qualifying donations for another three years.
Many corporates are also finding innovative ways to give back to the society. Apart from philanthropy, more corporates are now expanding their corporate giving into other forms of giving. For example in 2017, 39% of corporate givers provided platforms for their employees to volunteer or provide pro-bono services. In many of these cases, senior management interest was cited as a strong motivator for this shift. Corporates such as Changi Airport Group, DBS Bank, ComfortDelgro and PropNex have also put in place schemes such as paid time off to support their staff in volunteering.
In 2009, PropNex started the “PropNex Cares programme”, encouraging its staff to participate in fund-raising efforts. Back then, PropNex staff raised funds to build a school wing extension in a village in Cambodia for 250 students. Staff of PropNex continued to regularly raise funds for various charity initiatives through activities such as flag days, internal distribution of pledge cards and voluntary commission contributions. Over 40 of you also shaved off your hair while pledging for Hair for Hope for the Children’s Cancer Foundation.
In 2014, PropNex had raised $300,000 which was channelled into 3 Special Education Schools – Lighthouse School, MINDS Towner Gardens School and Rainbow Centre. During the nation’s golden jubilee, PropNex raised $500,000 for the Community Chest. Just last year, PropNex agents donated generously under the ‘Sponsor-a-Child’ campaign and even participated in volunteering events such as bringing students from Rainbow Centre to the Jurong Bird Park. I am encouraged to see that PropNex takes on a holistic approach to giving by twinning both donations and volunteerism.
The act of giving cultivates empathy and bands people from all walks of life together for a common cause. With growing social needs, it is essential that we are able to confront our challenges together as one people. It is this spirit that the Singapore Cares movement centres on – the call for Singapore to be a nation of givers – not by word, but by action and by deed.
Thank you once again, PropNex, for your generous support for the Community Chest. This year, your contributions will go a long way to touch the hearts and lives of the many less privileged and special needs children from PropNex’s adopted beneficiaries including Rainbow Centre Yishun Park School, Rainbow Centre Margaret Drive School, Grace Orchard School and Corner Student Care Centres.
We just celebrated Singapore’s 53rd National Day last week. As our nation grows and progress, I urge all Singaporeans to constantly think about how we can make positive impact on those around us, because together, we can build a more caring and inclusive society.