I have always been involved in some form of community work or other. Why do I do it? I have no clue! Maybe I just enjoy helping and seeing the fruits of a project working for the benefit of a selected group makes me happy.
In total over my current life span, I ran 10 golf tournaments (of 132 pax min per tournament), 8 major fund-raising dinners (average of 1,000 pax max) and other small-scale events. My credit is SGD12 million to date for funds raised.
Fund raising taught me networking, meeting and talking to different people from all walks of life. It taught me marketing and interpersonal skills. More importantly, it gave me wisdom in how to observe people.
I have hung up my boots on fund-raising – call it donor fatigue or I am tired chasing after dollars for a good cause! Perhaps it is also how good corporate governance may have lacked in the past and how fund-raising may have become a negative instead of a positive.
Instead, I now give time to help the community. If and when I have spare change in my pockets, I would make mindful donations. For now, my pet cause is the elders. For lack of a more creative approach, elders are called seniors, silver-haired, pioneers etc. But face it, at the end of the day, it is the elderly that is of concern without need of frills for a better branding.
The elderly population in Singapore is a real concern. Soon, I will join the elders and if you carefully observe, we are surrounded by elders. A reality that Singaporeans must face. Engaging this group and keeping them active is of major concern to government and citizens.
The fear of being ‘useless’ is a major concern of elders. What if dementia sets in or they end up alone. Most usually do, as many are single.
I pass by a community club to work each day and I cannot help but remember a grassroots person who used to Chair this community club then. They ran a food ration pack for elderly poor on a once a month program. I gave to support the cause. I am sure many others did as when I blew the whistle for help, I further raised another SGD2,500. I did not mind helping but what saddened me was the need for me to chase down this Chair and insist that he acknowledged each donor’s contribution, regardless of how small it may be. I believed in good faith and trust and I had to account to each of my donor contacts that their funds were not misused or it went into an abyss!
A good learning point is that the community club, much less the chair lacked the expertise to appreciate and cultivate donor’s network. By giving a negative impact to donor’s for their good deed, it may deter them from ever returning to give. I gave on account of the cause and the fact that I knew the Chair personally. What I did not expect was the unfortunate lack of follow-up to acknowledge or issue receipts to donors. A failure in good corporate governance and communications protocol. I owed my duty of good faith and trust to the fellow donors I approached.
At the end of it all, I did not receive a word of thanks from the Chair and ended up without any receipt for self nor a thank you note. If I am not active in community work, I would not have put this past and moved on. I wish this community club well in continuing their fund-raising programs.
The morale of this story is, appreciate and thank your donors profusely so as to actively engage them in your giving or gift program. Donors how small or big must be respected and treated with dignity and appreciation as from them, you get leads to help out in furthering your cause. [Marketing concept]
Perhaps this Chair was not aware of this simple etiquette. But I frown, as I knew he gave SGD200 once to a charity I was helping and was told he hounded for a huge certificate and later on scoff at the charity saying it was not worthy of his help as their cause was not as magnified as another well know charity!