By Goh Yan Han
The Straits Times/ANN
From January to May this year, $90 million was donated to the Community Chest, the Community Foundation of Singapore's Sayang Sayang Fund which was set up in February, and through online donation platform Giving.sg.
This amount was about equal to the overall donations received by the Community Chest and Giving.sg throughout the entire 2019, said the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Ministry of Social and Family Development in a joint statement on Monday (June 22).
The ministries added that more than 13,300 people signed up to volunteer through Giving.sg during the first five months of 2020, compared to 11,300 in the same period last year.
This was despite a decrease in volunteering opportunities during the circuit breaker period.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said that the pandemic had not dampened the spirit of caring among people here but instead brought out the best in Singaporeans and showed that many in the community care about the country deeply.
"Let us to continue to grow this spirit of Singapore Together and partner one another to overcome our challenges. By doing so, we will make it through this difficult period and emerge as a stronger society," said Ms Fu.
Of the $90 million, $42.2 million was donated to the Community Chest, of which 40 per cent went to Covid-19-related causes.
Donations also came from companies such as security and aerospace firm Lockheed Martin.
The company donated more than $280,000 from its Job Support Scheme payments to The Courage Fund and The Invictus Fund, both of which are managed by the Community Chest.
During the same period last year, the Community Chest collected $22.9 million in donations.
These include pro-wrestling fitness school Grapple Max, which raised $6,000 during an online fundraiser while showing a wrestling match, and home-based skincare start-up Soul Good Project that donated a month's worth of profits.
"These smaller but equally valuable contributions to the Sayang Sayang Fund reflect the charitable nature of many Singaporeans who are still willing to donate, even in times of adversity," said the ministries.
The donations to the Sayang Sayang Fund have funded over 330 projects that help individuals, families and seniors from marginalised backgrounds who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Giving.sg portal received $40.7 million from January to May, with $20.4 million donated in April, after the first tranche of $600 Solidarity Payments was given out.
The bulk of donors contributed to causes related to Covid-19, such as to help migrant workers and healthcare staff.
They added that the Community Chest projected a 20 to 30 per cent drop in donations in 2020 for its funded programmes.
To aid these charities, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre has launched the City of Good Show, an online game show fundraiser.
Episodes will air every Wednesday at 8pm on the centre's Facebook page from this week on.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said that he was encouraged that the community spirit is strong and Singaporeans from all walks of life have pitched in to help fight against the coronavirus.
He added though that it was imperative to focus on community needs that go beyond the Covid-19-related causes.
"Our social service agencies need our sustained support so that they can continue to deliver critical services, as well as meet growing and more complex needs in our society," said Mr Lee.