The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a slew of challenges for many industries, including the social service sector. Charities experienced a sharp decline in community donations due to the cancellation of physical fundraising events, and a decrease in volunteering activities.
To address the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, Tote Board stepped in with the Enhanced Fund-Raising (EFR) Programme*, to provide additional support to charities by matching funds raised for local charitable causes. This includes funds raised on both physical and digital platforms.
With the EFR, charities had the opportunity to scale up their digital fund-raising capabilities while continuing to serve vulnerable groups in our community amid the pandemic. Two such non-profit organisations were Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL) and Blossom World Society (BWS).
“During a global pandemic like COVID-19, such a programme from Tote Board is definitely sending the right signal to the social service agencies that they are not forgotten, and that even when the competition for funds has heated up, innovative and hardworking agencies will receive additional support from Tote Board to continue delivering its programmes and services,” said Tim Lee, Executive Director of CAL.
As CAL’s outreach activities came to a halt in 2020, there was added pressure to reach out to families and caregivers of persons with mental health issues. The presence of stigmatisation in society coupled with the imposition of physical restrictions had made the situation more challenging. CAL also struggled with the increased competition for donation funds.
CAL worked around the restrictions and brought an innovative spin to its annual fundraiser, creating a virtual “Climb for Mental Wellness" (C4MW) campaign in 2020. Besides raising a goal of $250,000 that would be doubled by the EFR Programme, CAL aimed to raise community camaraderie as participants achieved 250 million steps over 6 weeks, walking in solidarity with caregivers of persons with mental health issues. Through collective support and effort from the community, the campaign saw success with 1,956 participants achieving 227,829,050 steps. The 100% matching from EFR Programme further motivated donors to support the campaign.
#YOLO2020, another ongoing campaign by CAL, was also shared at the C4MW campaign. It aims to raise awareness of mental health and raise funds through the support of a relatable strenuous mountain hike, to continue training and supporting caregivers of persons with mental health issues. This is also in support of “Beyond the Label”, a campaign funded by Tote Board Mental Health Strategic Initiative.
Blossom World Society (BWS) took the opportunity to conduct fund-raising virtually, and had resumed some projects when Circuit Breaker measures eased. From April to December 2020, a total of 314 youths joined activities at BWS. With the funds raised from various digital activities, BWS applied to Tote Board for EFR matching.
The BWS Flag Day 2020 was such an instance. Held in April in past years, this physical fund-raising event could not be held because of the pandemic. Forced to think out of the box, BWS employed different fund-raising methods, collecting donations through online platforms such as Giving.sg. This resulted in a greater than expected outreach network, raised brand awareness, and generated an increase in enquiries for collaborations. Additionally, it helped to reduce administrative workload required for traditional fundraising.
"BWS is very grateful for Tote Board's generous support via the Enhanced Fund Raising Programme, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic. With Tote Board's support, BWS is able to develop youth equipped with gratitude and kindness through character building programmes, and empower youth to take care of the elderly and vulnerable in our community in projects, example Blossom Home Refresh," quipped Yen Sheng Xiang, General Manager of BWS.
Project Belanja, an initiative by BWS and Restaurant Association of Singapore, is another project that benefitted from EFR. Donations raised through digital platforms were used to fund vouchers for charities such as Daughters of Tomorrow and Beyond Social Services, to sponsor their beneficiaries to a meal; yet displaying another instance where funds provided by Tote Board magnified the work of community partners, to improve lives of the vulnerable in our community.
*The EFR Programme was launched on 17 April 2020 to support charities adversely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Tote Board doubled its contribution from 20% to 40% of the total funds raised, capped at $100,000 per eligible fund-raising project on condition that the Expenditure/Income (E/I) Ratio of the fund-raising project is not more than 35%. This matching applies to funds raised on both physical and digital platforms. On 26 May 2020, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat, announced that the Government will partner Tote Board and top up the matching amount, so that jointly government and Tote Board could provide successful EFR applicants with a dollar-for-dollar matching, capped at $250,000 per applicant. The EFR is applicable to fund-raising projects conducted between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. Between its launch and 31 December 2020, Tote Board has received about 600 applications. This is double the number of applications received over the same period in FY2019.