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Youth In Action: No money, no problem — student group builds platform for in-kind donations

As part of a series to highlight youth activism, TODAY speaks to young people in Singapore who are not only passionate and vocal about social issues, but are driving positive change through their actions. In this instalment, the students behind Gift for Good speak about the value of in-kind donations, and how money does not need to be a barrier to give back to society.

Youth In Action: No money, no problem — student group builds platform for in-kind donations

From left: Gift for Good members Tan Jin Ying, 26; Marcus Koh, 25; Wong Jing Wen, 23; and Yeo Qin-Liang, 23.

As part of a series to highlight youth activism, TODAY speaks to young people in Singapore who are not only passionate and vocal about social issues, but are driving positive change through their actions. In this instalment, the students behind Gift for Good speak about the value of in-kind donations, and how money does not need to be a barrier to give back to society.

  • A group of NUS students built a platform for in-kind donations
  • Since launching in September, they have partnered with 26 NGOs
  • They said Covid-19 has made more people appreciate the value of in-kind donations
  • They hope to bring on board more organisations and donors in the future

 

SINGAPORE — In January last year, a group of eight National University of Singapore (NUS) students came up with the idea of starting a project to help low income families in Singapore.

After months of brainstorming and tweaking their plans, the project has since become a full-fledged service known as Gift for Good — an online platform which helps match non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to donors who wish to contribute in-kind donations.

NGOs can choose to either browse the items listed by donors on the website, or post up requests for items that they need.

Aside from posting items to donate on the platform, donors can also browse through the “wishes” posted by the organisations on the platform and see which ones they can fulfil.

“We realised that many low income families needed basic necessities that we take for granted,” said undergraduate Yeo Qin-Liang, 23, one of four members of the Gift for Good team whom TODAY interviewed recently.

“We started looking around and we saw that there are platforms for volunteering, and platforms for cash donations, but there wasn’t a platform for in-kind donations.

“That’s how we landed on the idea.”

Since Gift for Good officially launched in September, it has brought on board 26 NGOs, such as Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore, Methodist Welfare Services and Whampoa Family Service Centre.

The team said it worked hard to ensure that the site is intuitive and easy to use, such as doing away with tedious form-filling and replacing it with a chat function that users would be familiar with through other social media platforms like Facebook or online marketplace Carousell.

“What our platform tries to do is to make the whole process very seamless and very easy for donors to contribute,” said finance management trainee Wong Jing Wen, 23, who is also part of the 12-member team.

IMPACT OF COVID-19

With many organisations and individuals tightening their purse strings due to the coronavirus outbreak, many NGOs saw their cash donations dry up last year.

But the team found that many people were still interested to give back to these organisations, even if they could not do so financially. They had other means of contributing, but were not aware of where and how they could do so.

“Something that was surprising for our team was getting all these enquiries from the public on how they can contribute (to the NGOs),” said Ms Wong.

“Covid-19 showed that a lot of people actually want to help, and they have the means to help, so it’s just giving them the process and a platform for them.”

This tied in nicely with the team’s long-term goal of raising public awareness on the value of in-kind donations.

One thing they learned through working on the project is that many NGOs were actually looking for items to support their own day-to-day operations, and not just crowdsourcing items on behalf of their beneficiaries.

“When we first started it, we thought that we would be helping beneficiaries with specific items… but I think what we realised is that many charities were using our platform to request for organisational needs, like milk powder and diapers for nursing homes,” said Ms Wong.

In the long run, Gift for Good hopes to be the go-to one-stop portal for in-kind donations in Singapore. Therefore, they hope to onboard more NGOs and reach out to more potential donors.

When asked on how young people can be encouraged to get involved in this area and give back to the community, Ms Wong said: “I think young people have limited resources, or maybe think that we don't have the resources to help in a community. But I think what our group is trying to show is that there are a lot of different ways that you can help.”

“Every request (from the NGOs) matters. And no matter how small it is, there is a way that you can contribute,” she added.

Related topics

youth in action NUS low income families Gift for Good Covid-19

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