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Opening Remarks by Mr Fong Yong Kian, Chief Executive, Tote Board at Tote Board-SSI Global Leaders Series #3, on 31st January 2018 9am at SIM Performing Arts Theatre

Mr Sim Gim Guan, CEO NCSS

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I want to begin by stating something which may be obvious to some of us here.  I believe that we are at the cusp of a technological-led transformation that will profoundly affect the way we live, work and play.

2. In a globalised city like Singapore, we quickly experienced the impact of disruption brought about by technology, from businesses to our daily lives.  The Government is determined to evolve Singapore into a Smart Nation through a nation-wide push in areas such as e-payments, e-services, internet of things, big data, robotics etc. Under the Industry Transformation Programme, roadmaps will be developed for 23 industries to change the way things are done and to deepen partnerships between industry stakeholders.  In the social sector, several Government led initiatives are already underway, such as the Social Service Net which incorporates case management system and an enhanced Volunteer Management System.  

3. The non-profit sector should move in tandem and ride on this transformational wave.  We should ask ourselves: how can we harness technology and innovation to elevate our organisational capacity to serve the community better. We need to adopt a mindset that is open to new ideas and new ways of working. It also entails having the capacity to implement new systems and solutions, without unduly affecting day-to-day operations.  This is akin to fixing or upgrading an engine while the car is still running.  In short, change management is not an easy issue to tackle in a fast moving world. 

4. Managing change is an area where I believe many of us here could do with some help. Very often, non-profits devote most of their resources towards delivering services to their clients.  Sometimes this is to meet increasingly needs on the ground; sometimes it is because the donors require that their grants be channelled only towards programming costs.  As a result, there were often insufficient resources for organisational development and to help staff navigate and manage change, which is critical in a period of transformation. 

5. Tote Board believes that investing in building the capability and capacity for the non-profit sector will have a strong multiplier effect, and that more can be done if we put our heads together. With this in mind, in July last year, Tote Board brought together about 100 participants from 40 non-profits and agencies to a “Kick-Off Session” on “Building Capability and Capacity”. The main purpose is to hear from the non-profits what their concerns are, and also solicit good ideas and solutions that we can build upon.  

6. No unexpectedly, a broad range of issues were brought up. Among the highlights was technology, in particular, digitisation and data analysis, which is often the starting point for transformation and innovation.  There were also discussions on new rules and tools for public accountability, organisational development and sustainability.  Also, the need to expand and manage the volunteer pool to be important resource for the non-profits.  

7. The Kick-Off Session also revealed a common desire by those present to strengthen cross-organisation, cross-sector and cross-industry collaborations. I believe that when such collaboration become widespread on the ground, we will be able to implement common solutions, exploit scale, cross-pollinate good ideas and reduce duplication. We will then be able to do more with less, and achieve what we previously thought to be unattainable.  

8. Tote Board will continue to engage the social service and non-profit organisations to further discuss and curate ideas on organisational development and managing change. The topic for today’s Global Leaders Series “Breaking Down Barriers to Make Social Change Happen: Building Strong, Effective and Sustainable Social Purpose Entities” is an excellent one.   I strongly welcome ideas and suggestions from all of you.  This is something we think a lot about in Tote Board and we have a strong commitment towards capability and capacity building in the sector. 


9. To end off, I would like to thank SSI, Community Chest, Singapore University of Social Sciences and Credit Suisse for being partners with us on this important journey. Let me wish all the participants present today a fruitful day of sharing and learning. 

Thank you.