Lee Wei Ling gets it right this time!

Like most Singaporeans, I read Dr Lee Wei Ling’s articles which appear in the Straits and Sunday Times mainly out of kay-pohness.

She’s the daughter of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the sister of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the sister-in-law of Ho Ching, boss of Temasek Holdings. So one reads with the hope of getting insider nuggets about her politically powerful family.

Beyond that, I’ve not given her views on this, that or other much thought other than her fierce advocacy for women to try to have children, seemingly regardless of the consequences, if not to themselves, then at least to their unborn child, an advocacy which I thought reckless and have said so.

But today, I found myself nodding in agreement to her piece in the Sunday Times castigating the way some people raise money for charity and the way some people donate money to these people’s causes, when it might be neater and more effective to donate to the actual beneficiaries directly.

Fact is such a thought comes to mind every time I see fund raisers go through gymnastics, sometimes death defying acts, to elicit the charity dollar. It’s particularly ridiculous too that charities are allowed by law to spend up to 30% of every dollar raised on the cost of the fund raising!

It’s for reasons like this that increasingly I prefer to give directly to needies that I come across, rather than give to organised charities, where the top layer of the $ raised goes to the activities for fund raising.

This week-end I have this reaction again on reading about a new fund raising tactic being used by the Straits Times Pocket Money Fund — a coin bank sold at $5 with the proceeds going fully to the fund.

Singapore Press Holdings, NTUC FairPrice and OCBC together have bought 13,000 coin banks to be given to their staff while OCBC is also giving another 5,000 to children who top-up or open a savings account with a minimum $20 deposit.

I have a few problems with this charity drive:

1) for the supposedly environmentally conscious supermarket chain, why add thousands of plasticky coin banks to the rubbish that’s out there?

2) Why can’t the same encouragement to savings and charity be done without adding more clutter to the planet, when alternatives abound that could achieve the same end without adding 50,000 plastic coin banks to the rubbish heap some time in the future?

3) Why not encourage the same saving and giving by asking children to use empty jam or coffee jars, biscuit tins, soft drink cans etc to stash their spare coins and when they are full, do what they want to do — donate to the Pocket Money fund or open an account with OCBC?

4) Since the proceeds from selling the coin banks will go fully to the Pocket Money fund, someone must have sponsored their production. Why not get this sponsor to donate the equivalent amount to the fund?

5) Oh sure, $250, 000 would have been raised by selling the coin banks and if there are no banks, there won’t be this sum. If those behind the ST Pocket Money Fund raising die-die must go with their coin bank idea, then why not make use of the Internet? Why not have virtual coin banks for Internet donors to adopt? Create a link page on the ST platform and for every blogger who donates $5 for a virtual coin bank, reciprocate with a one-year link?

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4 thoughts on “Lee Wei Ling gets it right this time!

  1. Years ago, I used to do creative projects for NKF. They scrapped several projects on a whim and wasted precious money. When I questioned them about their money wasting fun-raising gimmicks, they declared, “It is not easy to raise funds for charity. We need to do alot of hard work before people are willing to fork out money.”

    We need to change the mindsets of the public, as well as the fund raisers.

  2. Blur, thanks for sharing. IMHO, I think the public’s mindset is generally OK as witness how almost everyone who visits the Kwan Yim Hood Joo Temple in Waterloo St gives something to the collection box, even without any exhortation or even knowing which charity will get the money.

    What has become a very unhealthy development, led by the old NKF, is the way we tend to emulate the American way of running charities and fund-raising. Must throw big $ to raise big donation$. Consequently, we now have professional charity fund raisers; sponsors who use fund raising to advertise their services etc.

    Perhaps voters can pressurise the Govt to be more stringent with matching $ for $ donations. Most particularly I object to Govt encouraging giving to the Arts and other “jam” donations, when we have tens of thousands of kids still needing ST Pocket Money Fund to have breakfast, becos they don’t even have bread!

  3. Pocket Change!
    These bankers can tons of money. it’s an insult to the Singaporean who believes in this nonsense!
    Let me put it this way- this is propanganda for the average Singaporean.
    If any Singpaorean believes in this, then they are still babies in the wooods.
    So you know what? if u believe in it- go give your money.

  4. Pingback: 2010 in review « FOOD fuels me to talk…

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