Each Singaporean adult (aged 21 and above in 2020) has received or will receive a Solidarity Payment of $600 from the government. This monetary support is meant to aid citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic and there have been calls for Singaporeans to donate their payouts to charity.
After I donated to Preetipls’ fundraiser for non-governmental organizations that supported migrant workers, I stumbled upon a button that stated, “1 share = 1 donation”. My first thought was that Give Asia, the fundraising platform, matched every share with a small donation. But when I clicked it, a pop-up further revealed, “A single share from you will usually lead to at least one donation. Sharing this campaign only takes 10 seconds.” That stopped me in my tracks. A share didn’t equate to a donation then. It just hinted at the promise of one.
As a copywriter, I understand the need for a short and punchy caption. While it sure was misleading, the button got me thinking about the link between charity and sharing, especially in the age of social media. When we donate to charity these days, we are compelled to promote the cause on our platforms since greater awareness – while intangible – might lead to an increase in donations, a tangible outcome.
Advocacy is tricky. You have to be persuasive but not pushy. Inspiring and motivational but not cheesy. Informative but not boring. It’s a fine line to walk. So when I found three young adults who promoted fundraisers on their Instagram posts and stories, I approached them to find out more about their decision to do so as well as the causes they contributed to.
Here’s what Beatrice (a 24-year-old fresh graduate), Dayna (a 21-year-old kindergarten teacher) and Raphael (a 24-year-old undergraduate currently on a professional internship) had to say:
What spurred you to donate your solidarity payout?
Beatrice: I felt undeserving of the solidarity payment and thought that I would probably squander it on something inconsequential. So I decided to donate it to those who need it more and urged others to do so as well.
Dayna: Ever since this crisis started, I’ve realized how much more I can and ought to be doing for the community, even if I’ve not come into direct contact with the groups that I wish could be better supported. Whether you call it altruism or civic-mindedness, it is now time for us to support those who slip through the cracks. I believe that if you can afford to live relatively comfortably without this sum, donating it (some, if not all) to causes will help to ease the burdens and improve the lives of those who were hit the hardest.
Raphael: I felt inclined to donate the payout to these causes as I believe that the people they will benefit are definitely worse hit by the COVID-19 crisis than I am. Sure, I may not be the wealthiest individual, but the fact that I am still able to work from home is a privilege that I am immensely thankful for. Others might not have it as great and I believe that we should all do what we can to help, in whatever ways we deem fit.
Why do you feel so strongly about helping those in need?
Beatrice: I feel very strongly about taking personal responsibility for the well-being of our larger community. In general, Singaporeans lack social responsibility and expect things to be magically taken care of by the government but ultimately, the government, civil servants and NGOs cannot do this alone.
Dayna: We’re only as strong as those who are the most vulnerable and susceptible. I’ve been very, very, fortunate but I can’t say the same about a lot of other people. I’ve been mulling over this fact a lot since this pandemic first emerged, even before it was labeled as one. It’s been very emotionally exhausting to keep up with the news and to be critical without being too emotional. Being educated is a privilege and we have to keep ourselves informed beyond things that concern us directly. People in need may be out of our sights but shouldn’t be out of our minds.
Raphael: I believe that this needs to be a grassroots initiative because there is only so much that relevant organisations and the government can do to alleviate the problem. This is where I think we can all step in to help, by redirecting the payout we received to those who might need it more, and encouraging others who are able to do so as well. These times might be tough for us all, but some groups of people in society are definitely harder hit and such collective effort will go a long way to help them.
Which organizations did you pick and why?
Beatrice: I donated to Boys’ Town, Hagar Singapore, Singapore Red Cross, AWARE and HOME through a campaign titled, “Give Your Solidarity Payment To Break Cycles Of Inequality #wegiveinsolidarity”. Previously I donated another $100 to another campaign to help migrant workers but I don’t remember the name of the specific beneficiary! As Red Cross is a big organization, I believe it has a larger reach in terms of the people it can help as it does not focus exclusively on a group of people. Red Cross’ campaign page said that the funds would be used to help elderly and people who have lost their jobs or part timers with fewer hours. I feel for that as I have friends who have lost their jobs or have taken massive pay cuts and I’ve been trying to help them find side gigs to get them through this period. I also donated to AWARE because of the expected surge in domestic violence! I empathize a lot with people who feel uncomfortable or just cannot stay home because of their dysfunctional or abusive families. They don’t have many avenues to seek help due to the nature of their problems— it’s hard for them to reach out to others for help and hard for others to even realize what’s going on in their homes etc. Plus, the government (I know they are doing their best!!) didn’t address this issue initially, so I think it’s important that society and individuals step in to help. To be fair they did release an advisory recently, with a special hotline and safety code word etc., but this was definitely an issue that was left unaddressed at the beginning. I guess no policy is perfect from the outset and some areas just have to be left vague at first while they contain the major health issue.
Dayna: I have yet to receive my payout but I will be dedicating the majority of my payout to Hagar Singapore and Boys’ Town as they are organisations that support vulnerable groups in Singapore. I had previously donated to organisations that work directly with migrant workers and decided that I would like to pay some attention to other groups of people whose sole source of support may be struggling to sustain operations and support due to the current circumstances.
Raphael: I believe we are all aware of how badly hit by COVID-19 the migrant worker community is. Hence, Migrants We Care was the first beneficiary that I decided on as I knew that there was an urgent need for donations. The second would be Project Love, by New Life Community Services, which aims to support financially needy families during this time of crisis. These households are struggling now more than ever, so I wanted to do what I could to help. To support lower-income families facing food insecurity, I made the bulk of my donations to Food From The Heart, as they are a charity I trust and am familiar with, having volunteered with them in the past. I believe food is the most immediate need for lower-income families. I also donated to Feed The City, which is an initiative by Food Bank. I thought it was really interesting that they were doing a “take-away edition” of an earlier initiative and it aims to help both F&B outlets and people in need alike by organising food deliveries for them. What a creative way to kill two birds with one stone!
Why did you choose to publicize your decision to donate your payout on social media?
Beatrice: Because I think there would be people in my circle who would be willing to donate but just have a bit of inertia or don’t know where to do it. So when I posted an Instagram story publicizing the aforementioned campaign, I was just making it easier for them to donate.
Dayna: My words were merely food for thought and there is no obligation for anyone to donate. I just wanted to do my part and to see if anyone else agrees that we should try our best to ease COVID-19’s impact on those whose voices are not heard over the deafening sound of our own privilege.
Raphael: I was just letting them know the option existed— if they want to do it, they can. I avoided being preachy because everyone has their own reasons for donating and not donating. That’s why I chose to say, “do what you can to help” instead of “you must donate”. I am just a Singaporean at a place of privilege, asking others with privilege to chip in too, if they are able to do so.
Links to fundraisers: Give Your Solidarity Payment To Break Cycles Of Inequality #wegiveinsolidarity, #HOMEFORALL Migrants, Preetipls x UTOPIA for Migrant Workers NGOs [Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) and HealthServe Ltd], Humanitarian Organization for Migrant Economics (HOME), Feed The City by Food Bank, Hagar Singapore, Food From The Heart
Feature image by Sherryl Cheong