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Covid-19: Fewer Singaporeans donate, more charities close their doors

SINGAPORE — With fewer Singaporeans making donations in the Covid-19 battered economy, some charities are suffering and have even ceased operations to divert funds into their programmes, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) has found.

Covid-19: Fewer Singaporeans donate, more charities close their doors

The National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre said that fewer Singaporeans were willing to donate to charity as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded.

  • Between April and July, Singaporeans became more focused on their own economic security, a survey showed
  • A declining percentage of people were willing to donate to charity
  • Some charities are feeling the pinch as donations begin to dry up


SINGAPORE — With fewer Singaporeans making donations in the Covid-19 battered economy, some charities are suffering and have even ceased operations to divert funds into their programmes, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) has found.

These charities include independent organisations such as Playeum, which gives children equal access to learn and play, and One Singapore, which disburses money to assist low-income individuals and families in Singapore who urgently need help.

Playeum and One Singapore told TODAY that donations have “flat-lined” recently, so much so that Playeum has been forced to shut the doors of its main children's centre.

A recent poll — conducted by NVPC between April and July this year with survey firm Toluna — found that the percentage of Singaporeans willing to donate dropped nearly one-third from 32 per cent in April to 23 per cent in July.

The main reason they gave was the lack of resources such as time, money and items to give away, it revealed.

The survey, released last Thursday (Aug 20), polled 1,100 respondents aged 15 and above to understand the giving habits of Singaporeans as well as the issues at the forefront of their minds in the midst of the pandemic.

It found that Singaporeans’ greatest concerns have shifted as the crisis unfolded.

In early April, when the circuit breaker was imposed to restrict movement and activities, 43 per cent of Singaporeans listed protecting public health as the most urgent issue to address.

In July, however, 34 per cent of respondents listed that as a top priority. Over that same period, those who ranked the rising cost of living as a top priority rose from 22 per cent to 30 per cent, while those most concerned about a lack of job security increased from 10 to 16 per cent.

On the giving habits of Singaporeans, results showed that among those who contributed to charities in July, 77 per cent took the form of monetary donations, up from 60 per cent in April.

Contributing in the form of volunteering, on the other hand, dropped from 33 per cent in April to 24 per cent in July.

NVPC said the results showed that Singaporeans have shifted their priorities from a tendency to focus on collective thinking to self-preservation during the pandemic.

The lack of donations in the last few months has taken a toll on charities here.

Mr Michael Switow, founder of One Singapore, said that requests for assistance have shot up over the past few months, as families in Singapore are struggling.

"We saw an initial surge in support at the beginning of the circuit breaker but donations have flat-lined recently. Perhaps it’s because One Singapore is not as high-profile as other charities that are regularly featured in the news," Mr Switow said.

While One Singapore is still surviving, Playeum, which works with children with disabilities and from marginalised backgrounds at its Children’s Centre for Creativity at Gillman Barracks, has closed its centre.

Ms Charlotte Goh, its executive director, attributed the closure to the organisation “falling under the radar” as well as its inability to hold fundraising events during the circuit breaker.

Ms Goh believes that Playeum was perhaps not considered an “immediate need within society” and organisations that addressed needs such as food shortage or educational needs, were given more attention at that time.

“In light of financial sustainability, we were forced to really look at the function and use of our centre. Was it really necessary for us to execute our mission? The answer that we realised was, ‘No, it wasn’t essential for us right now’.

“As such, we decided not to reopen our centre and to focus our funds, efforts and attention instead to strengthen and enhance the other areas of our organisation, programmes and interventions with community partners, schools and charities,” Ms Goh added.

The NVPC said aside from giving donations, Singaporeans can volunteer on charity platforms such as, which offers a range of volunteering opportunities across 14 causes. 

While social distancing measures have made it necessary to pivot to other ways of volunteering, the NVPC said Singaporeans can also give in other ways, such as by providing tele-befriending or online tutoring services.

Related topics

Charity donation economy Covid-19 coronavirus nvpc

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