"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated
- Mahatma Gandhi
It’s not only humans that deserve welfare, animals too. Public awareness, and responsibility for the welfare of the non-human members of our community has grown in recent years, thanks largely to the efforts of animal welfare groups such as SoSD (Save our Street Dogs).
(Peter, Colleen and Mark, with Tony of SoSD)
April 9, a group of Empact volunteers, friends and staff, and their supportive
partners visited SoSD, a volunteer-run charity, on a Shelter Tour. We learnt from Tony and Stasha, two members
of its dedicated team, about its work in rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming
strays, as well as its programs Healing Paws and Canine Charm. In Healing Paws, dog-volunteers (and their owners)
are trained for animal-assisted therapy at hospices, children’s homes and
elderly homes, while Canine Charm gives other groups such as schools the
opportunity to simply interact with the friendly dogs.
We were impressed with SoSD’s dedicated work and the well-cared-for dogs, each with their own distinct personality! Here are 3 of them ready for adoption:
This March, 71 staff from 44 charities are learning how to improve donating related processes. This is all in a bid to improve efficiency.
The productivity workshop, organised by Pumpkin Lab @ NCSS, covered both donating tracking and how to automate flag day administration. Two key areas for most charities. We have been working with NCSS on Phase 1 of this large scale “Ka-ching” project, whereby five charities benefitted from the Empact’s specially developed donation tracking tool.
Alzheimer's Disease Association, Autism Association (Singapore) and iC2 PrepHouse shared their experience of going through the pilot project to improve their donation tracking processes and learning how to use the tool.
Results from the pilot showed that:• Among the organisations that participated in Phase 1, the staff reported 20-50% productivity gains in the time taken for donation tracking processes.
• Most of the productivity gains come from eliminating the time taken to enter IPC Link and other manual documentations.
• Other reported benefits are improvement and flexibility in producing thank you letters and tax/non-tax deductible receipts.
Pretty great results! For more information regarding the process, you can refer to the summary slides from the event (Click here).
We will now be entering Phase 2 and there is an open call out for charities interested in participating and benefitting from this. If that includes you, the application process can be found below:1. Complete all fields in the application form (Click here).
2. Email completed application form in softcopy (.doc/.docx) to NCSS: email@example.com (please do not convert to PDF as NCSS will need to extract the information).
3. Please ensure that the application is approved internally by the head of agency and he/she is copied in the application email to NCSS.
4. Please note that application deadline is 7 April.
… a group of our volunteers discovered when for 45 minutes they tried finding their way, with the help of a visually-impaired guide, in absolute darkness through simulated everyday environment faced by the blind.
This was the Dialogue in the Dark Tour at Ngee Ann Polytechnic which the group went to Saturday, February 11, as part of Empact’s orientation for new SIMAA (Singapore Institute of Management Accounting Association) volunteers. The activity was chosen to help raise the new volunteers’ awareness of the community and its challenges. From walking in the park to going on a boat on the Singapore River to crossing a busy road and perhaps the most daunting of all, ordering and eating at a café, the experiential learning from the tour brought home the difficulties of negotiating the world without the benefit of sight.
But as the tour participants also learnt, the main challenge faced by VIPs (Visually-Impaired Persons) is to be treated on equal footing with the rest of us, and to be given a chance to demonstrate their capabilities in their chosen field of work.
Some reflections from the group:
Elfonson: “Through this invaluable opportunity, I get a clearer understanding of the challenges the visually impaired experienced in their daily living. By recognising their needs, I learnt how I could offer them help and motivate them better. It was a meaningful yet unforgettable event that one should take on.”
Sherlyn: “After this experience, I am more able to empathise with the challenges that the visually- impaired face. I would be more willing to help them and provide guidance with concern and care just like how they did for us in the dark. I think this is really an experience that everyone should try.”
Alton: “Being emphatic about the needs of the visually impaired. Perceived them as equals rather than sympathising with them. Understand how to use other senses apart from my sight.”
(Participants with DiD guide Kah Yong)
Leia: “Through Kah Yong, I was able to understand the challenges that they have to face. It heartens me to know that despite these challenges, they are still very willing to contribute to our society and our economy. I think the lack of awareness in our society is one of the inhibiting factors. I hope such an experience will allow us to understand the challenges that they face and be open to support them further because I believe they have just as much potential as we do.”
Natalie: “I admire their perseverance and determination to overcome all the challenges they have and focusing on what they can do to achieve their dreams. This aspect really motivates me to work hard and live life to the fullest instead of taking things granted and complaining about stuff that I’m not able to achieve at the moment.”
Evana: “I am really blessed and thankful of what I have now. Through this Dialogue in the Dark, I had an enjoyable experience and was able to understand the challenges they have to face. It motivates me to work hard and live life to the fullest and not taking everything for granted. I would like to encourage more people to experience the program and raise the awareness for them.
Herny: “DiD allowed me to know more about the blind community. It also increased my awareness for helping them. Before I only have sympathy but not really emphatic. Throughout DiD, I realise that I should be a part of the society and I should try to help them in one way or another.”
Jacky: “A key takeaway from the session is that now I have a better understanding of the challenges and struggles faced by our disabled counterparts, and would place higher emphasis in helping them in public when in need.”
Zheng Chen: “It is great to see that facilitators who are visually-impaired are stepping out of their comfort zone to try to increase social awareness/let more people understand their needs. I feel that what visually-impaired people need is not only a convenient/navigable environment, but encouragement to go outside of their homes and live their lives.”
This year’s “Done in a Day” programme saw 36 corporate volunteers in Singapore commit over 184 hours in pro bono service.
between two to 12 employees from eight organisations each spent one work day providing
their professional expertise to solve a specific challenge facing eight President’s
Challenge beneficiary charities. This was all in support of President’s
Challenge Volunteer Drive.
The largest team of volunteers this year came from ABR Holdings. 12 volunteers tackled the challenges of ensuring a safe working environment and food handling practices are in place for the community kitchen at South Central Community Family Services Centre.
Mr Andrew Khoo, COO at ABR Holdings said, “Skills-based volunteering is self-fulfilling and meaningful to the volunteers as they are personally involved in sharing their expertise with the beneficiaries. It will also tend to have a lasting positive impact on the recipients who can apply the newly acquired knowledge to their daily work.”
South Central Community Family Services Centre was trialling skills-based volunteering for the first time. Chee Chi Hoon, Assistant Director, Community Engagement said, “Expectations were exceeded. We are deeply touched by ABR Holding’s generosity of heart in sharing their skills with the community. We are sincerely appreciative to Empact and ABR volunteers for caring and giving”.
The projects - covering either IT, Marketing & Communications, Fundraising or Operations - ranged from global PR agency, Allison+Partners, providing media relations training for Trybe to the development of a long term in-kind donation strategy for Focus on the Family led by PwC Singapore volunteers.
Here is the full list of projects:
8 October 2016
Empact Volunteers' Event - Kampong Glam Community Trail
On a balmy Saturday afternoon, 15 Empact volunteers, supporters and staff took part in a community trail in the Kampong Glam-North Bridge Road vicinity. Awareness of, and learning about community issues and support in a neighbourhood characterised by HDB rental flats, a large senior resident population and concentration of Thai migrant workers were facilitated by students from the NUS CTPCLP (Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme.
We were fortunate to meet Uncle Willy, a local resident who graciously spent time with us to share his personal story and answer our questions. We also stopped by a traditional Chinese snack shop run single-handedly by a heroic senior with no help at all.
Do look out for news of the next trail to participate!
11 August 2016
Volunteer Event: Acting on Purpose
Last Thursday evening, Empact's volunteers, partners and guests were treated to a fascinating evening of lively discussion and inspiring speakers.
'Acting On Purpose' brought together Uantchern Loh (basecamp blog founder), Ashwin Subramaniam (Co-founder, Gone Adventurin') and Empact volunteers for a chat on taking Action in pursuit of Purpose.
Moderated by Patrick O’Brien (MD, The Amanuenses Network) , the evening's inspirational dialogue left many of our volunteers reflecting.
Contrary to the common intent of seeking purpose, Uantchern offered an alternative to being deliberate about the search, and encouraged trying things for the sake of it. This would be how humans, as irrational and unreasonable creatures, could have a chance at discovering purpose through serendipity.
Ashwin echoed Uantchern in his belief in randomness. He recounted his personal experiences, of how he was inspired by many little seemingly random moments to wander off the beaten path, and end up where he is today. He also shared tips on how to keep motivated by breaking up an enormous goal into small achievable milestones, alluding to the importance of creating that sense of achievement every now and then.
After their sharing, Uantchern and Ashwin spent some time interacting with our volunteers, addressing their questions and alleviating their doubts. Both gentlemen encouraged our volunteers to listen to their heart and let life’s randomness take them somewhere, hopefully filled with some kind of purpose
- Brenda Chai, Empact Volunteer
18 April 2016
Empact is very pleased to formally announce our partnership with the President's Challenge this year.
The President’s Challenge was established in 2000 to focuson raising community resources to support good causes. In 2012, President’s Challenge was expanded to also encourage volunteerism as another form of giving.
As Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said in a speech at the end of last year:
"I hope that when we look back in 50 years, what defines us as Singaporeans is not just that we have the best airport or the best seaport, but that we are a caring nation and a caring people" *
So during the rest of 2016, Empact will be working closely with the President's Challenge beneficiaries to increase the volunteering opportunities available to both corporate organisations and the general public. There will be a whole range of volunteering events taking place; something for everyone!
Empact is keen to play its part in helping to raise awareness of the benefits of volunteerism.
This year's overall theme for President’s Challenge is active ageing and senior volunteerism and Empact will be supporting that with a specially curated inter-generational programme later in the year. However, there will be a broad range of opportunities generally, both hands on and skills based, for any age. Empact is also planning some exciting skills-based volunteering events later in the year.
So throughout 2016 you will see more from of us on all of the above… watch this space!
To find out more about the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive, please click here: https://www.pc.org.sg/Volunteer-DriveTo find out who are the PC beneficiary organisations for 2016, please click here: https://www.pc.org.sg/Beneficiaries
18 November 2014
At the end of October, Peter Yang and Jiali Lu were able to attend and participate in the Asia Pro Bono Rally, held in Tokyo from 27 to 29 Japan 2014. Held over 3 days, with around 50 participants, the Asia Pro Bono Rally was organised by Service Grant Japan and supported by Taproot Foundation and the BMW Foundation. Along with other Asian pro bono intermediaries, it was a fruitful time of knowledge sharing and discussions of how to bring more impact, with greater collaboration.
We learnt about the different models of pro bono and skilled volunteering which are in operation across Asia. During discussions, it emerged that the biggest challenges for pro bono intermediaries is the lead time to engage with corporations.
Peter was also invited to share with a group of Japanese corporations, on behalf of Singapore, the various case studies and examples ofpro bono and corporate skilled volunteering projects we have embarked on.
It was a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about what we are doing and get to meet other exciting organisations who are all striving to grow skills-based volunteering.
You can also watch Peter's presentation to the Japanese corporations below, and those from the other intermediaries here.
13 November 2014
The last month has been an extremely busy one for the Empact team! We hosted our first ever conference and workshop, went to the Asia Pro Bono rally in Tokyo, co-hosted a Philanthropy in Asia dinner ...and all that was on top of our usual work with our volunteers and clients!
Our Redefining Community Giving conference was a big success, and one that we are immensely proud of. The conference saw over 200 delegates from VWOs, social enterprises, corporations, government and foundations, join together at Concorde Hotel on 9 October. The aim of the conference was to raise awareness and understanding of what skills based volunteering is, how it can benefit corporations and social organisations, and practical advice for how to get started.
We were delighted that Minister Chan Chun Sing was able to join us as Guest of Honour and share his views on the changing community giving landscape, as well as giving a strong call to action for more corporations to adopt skills-based volunteering, as a way of sustainably supporting social organisations.
We were also joined by speakers Joel Bashevkin and Robert Acton from US-based Taproot Foundation, a global leader in the field of skills-based volunteering/pro bono service, who shared their expertise.
In addition, we also had a wide range of speakers from Singapore corporations, intermediaries and social organisations. It was wonderful to have such a broad range of voices discussing skills-based volunteering.
The conference touched on all aspects of skills-based volunteering, and there were lots of valuable discussions about how to make it work for both corporations and social organisations. Empact was also able to share the findings from our landscape study on skills-based volunteering with all the delegates and discuss some of the issues raised with our panel of experts.
Thank you to everyone who attended, spoke and helped to make the event a success! To see some of our favourite photos from the conference, just head over to our Facebook page.
On 4 July, Empact was featured on Capital 95.8FM, talking about our Social Enterprise Mentoring Programme, initiated by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. Peter Yang was interviewed to get Empact's perspectives and listeners also heard from Laksania and Adrenalin about their experiences in participating in the progamme and what they had learnt as a result. The show also heard from two of the mentors, Mr Lim Soon Hock who mentors Laksania, and Mr Andrew Khoo who mentors Adrenalin.
We were delighted to be given the opportunity to participate and discuss our work. If you missed the show, don't worry! You can download a transcript of the interview (in English) by clicking here.
The last month has been a busy one at Empact, with volunteer orientation, speaking engagements and new staff joining. Peter Yang has been busy speaking at Impact Forum: From Niche to Mass and the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum (JWEF).
Impact Forum saw Peter join the Widening the Circle panel with representatives from Social Enterprise Association, CSIP and ASSIST Asia. The panel examined what new stakeholders (such as NGOs, professionals and intermediaries) working in the impact investing ecosystem can offer and what partnerships can be formed.
Peter also participated in this years Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum, held at *SCAPE. At JWEF, Peter shared his motivations and experiences starting his own social enterprise, as well as his views on how Singapore can create a culture of social entrepreneurship and what role the youth can play.
We've also had two new staff members join us full time - Carla Velayo as Client Service Manager for Accounting, and Claire O'Donoghue as Marketing & Communications Manager. Read more about them here.
15 April 2014
The best part about running an organisation like Empact is the inspiration we get every day from our volunteers, social organisation clients, grant-makers who believe in us, and the enthusiastic corporate friends that take part in our mission to make a difference. What's even better is that we get to share this wonderful experience with all of you at events like our dialogue "Making a Social Difference: Enterprising the Impact".
Moderated by our Founder, Peter Yang, Empact brought together a panel of 4 Social Innovator speakers - Cassie Lim from Be Movement, Eleanor Yap from Ageless Online, Nicholas Ng from Food Bank, and Pamela Chng from Bettr Barista - to speak about the turning point in their lives (one of them involved being trapped in a building during an earthquake in Japan!), the most difficult challenges they faced, and the things that motivate them to keep on sustaining their social organisation.
The evening was filled with genuine sharing and laughter, while the speakers didn't hesitate to share different opinions on matters such as partnering with your friend to start a social business (one said yes, definitely, and another speaker said no...), and whether or not to engage volunteers. But at the end of the day, what was most significant about the evening was the similarities that all speakers shared in what touched their lives the most - even if their social missions were all very different - and that was simply making a difference in someone else's happiness, well-being and future.
Much gratitude to our partners National Youth Council (NYC), and SCAPE* who hosted all 72 of our participants, the Empact team left with a greater appreciation of our Social Entrepreneur speakers, our volunteers, and everyone else who came to see what they had to offer to the community.
See you all at our next event!
4 April 2014
Empact, together with their legal partner - a multinational law firm, Olswang, held an afternoon training session "Meeting Legal Needs: How to Effectively Engage a Pro Bono Lawyer" for social organisations that could use some support in the legal department.
At this session, social enterprises and non-profit organisations were guided by Olswang to understand better when (and when one doesn't have to) engage a lawyer. The topics also covered the benefits of pro bono legal services, where to find them, with Empact ending the session with real case studies of the experience encountered by social organisations as they engaged legal services.
The fruitful Friday afternoon ended with a Q&A and networking session with more personal legal questions being address and answered. Do stay tuned for more events like this from us!
15 Feb and 18 Feb 2014
Empact held their very own "Orientation to the Community and Social Service Sector" for their volunteers who were looking to learn more about the industry. The sessions were designed to be conducted in an interactive manner aimed to provide knowledge and information to the sector. The sessions were very successful, and provided helpful insights for the volunteers to embark further on their community service journey.
20 December 2013
Empact wins the President's Challenge We Care Award under the Start-Up Category!
16 November 2013
Empact brings the volunteer staffs from Barclays (as part of the Community Service Grant Programme we Empact customised for them) to Assumptions Pathway School (APS) for an eventful Learning Journey. Alongside National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and Empact's volunteers as well, everyone was able to learn more about the administrations and the fun yet educational courses of the school. APS caters to and customise programmes for youths who are unable to clear their Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) to suit their needs and abilities.
The volunteers and NVPC had a chance to interact with staffs and students of the school, and experience their educational training in food preparation, baking, hairdressing, and many other wonderful programmes. The highlight of the event was when the students served everyone a two-course meal at their training restaurant (The ART) for lunch! Thanks to Barclays Bank PLC, we were able to make this event possible.
13 July 2013
Come join us in our 2nd dialogue organised specially for our volunteers. Gain insights into the community and social service sector from our guest panelists - Mr Gary Loh (Board Member of Operation Smile Singapore) and Ms Veron Lau (President of the Cat Welfare Society). Hear from them, their journeys and experiences in realising their social mission.
15 Apr 2013
For the past six months, we have been working on an online system that individuals can register themselves as volunteers. The online system is up and can be found on the following link .
For more information on our volunteer development programme.
22 Jan 2013
Empact celebrates its one year anniversary. We had more than 80 volunteers and guests attending our event. In conjunction with the anniversary was a dialogue on "The Future of Leadership: Towards a Better Tomorrow". We were fortunate to have Mr Aaron Maniam (Chairman of National Youth Council Academy), Mr Hosea Lai (Deputy Director, SgCares, NVPC), Mr Lian Wee Cheow (Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers) and Mr Tay Lai Hock (Founder of Ground-Up-Initiative, GUI) as our panellist for the dialogue.
For pictures of the event, you can visit our Facebook page by clicking here.