Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Volunteerism & Good Corporate Governance

on November 29, 2013

Being a volunteer is not an easy task. Having done more than 10 charity golf tournaments, 8 fund raising dinners and giving time over the years, I have begun asking self why do I do it?

I don’t really know. Except that it makes me happy and gives me a strange sense of pride and achievement.

The end result was a whopping sum of $12 million which helped financed the elderly poor and mentally challenged.

I behaved as a professional beggar each time. I had to balance donor fatigue and identify guest of honors that gave me clout to raise the much needed funds.

I particularly enjoyed being a part of Chinese New Year lunch hosted for vegetarian seniors living in Buddhist Lodge. Seeing their toothless smiles as they get excited over a nice 10 course vegetarian meal comprising veggies and mock meats.

Entertainment is a mix of comical acts or the inmates putting on a skit or their care givers doing a musical segment.

Runned by Buddhist Ven Kuan Yan, she is from the Philippines but lived her life in Singapore, devoting her time and love for the seniors.

Sometimes not all charities are well managed with robust checks and balances. Yes, there has been much adversity and adverse publicity for a few bad apples. For these people, the long arm of the law has caught up with them and they have paid their dues.

Is volunteerism truly altruistic? Not for all would be my take. I have seen power struggles amongst committee members as they jostle for power or status in the charity arena! Sadly it can get ugly too!

I question altrusim. With tax rebate at 2.5 times amount donated, donors give with the carrot dangled to entice donors.

The receipt of recognition for eg name etched on an honor roll, going up on stage to receive recognition of their generosity – is volunteerism truly altruistic?

I asked myself if there were no tax incentives in terms of rebates, would one be motivated to give?

If there were no recognition plaques or medals, would volunteers want to give as readily?

I heard someone telling me that he wanted to be chairman of a “Huay Kuan” ie clan group. To this chap, if he was elected chairman, it meant he was the chairman of all clansmen with successful businesses! I applaud this man’s interpretation of a simple role of a clan chairman into that of the “Lord” status symbol, lording over fellow clanmen! Sadly, a selfish personal gain is foremost in this cotton picking brain!

Being cynical and candid, I have seen how honorary positions are so contentious as grown persons jostle for a man made self glorified unpaid position!

So, in truth and with hand to heart, I ask of donors and volunteers if what is done is absolutely altruism at its best?

As for self….I am single and no matter how hard I aspire to climb this volunteer hierachy, I gain nothing as I am not eligible for priority government housing or elite schools for my non existent children. I give time, money and much sweat and tears to achieve my voluntary goals that is event based.

I only gain happiness in that fleeting moment of seeing the beneficiaries enjoying the fruits of our voluntary labour. Now, that is reward in itself to me 🙂

To some it is time consuming. To me it is an opportunity for me to give back to society and how it has blessed me with a roof over my head, 3 square meals a day and a set of wheels to go to my job each day!

Happy Thanksgiving folks 🙂

I will one day be old and in a home for seniors. I hope then, a volunteer would come make days pass easier, happier and meaningful for me in my declining years 😉


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