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Singaporeans donate less money but volunteer more time: survey
13 July 2006

Singapore City, Singapore: A survey has found that Singaporeans donated less money to charities, but volunteered more of their time.

Only 89 percent dug into their wallets for charity last year, compared to 97 percent in 2004. However, Singaporeans chalked up 40 percent more hours of volunteer work than 2 years ago.

49 million hours were clocked, equivalent to $1.12b in wages, or some 0.58 percent of the GDP.

The National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, or NVPC, surveyed 1,803 Singaporeans to capture their "individual giving" patterns.

The good news is more youths aged 15 to 24 took up volunteer work, from 25 percent in 2004 to 28 percent in 2006. These volunteering activities exclude the compulsory Community Involvement Programme in schools.

For people aged between 55 to 64, the volunteer participation rate increased from 2004's 8 percent, to 13 percent in 2006.

Almost 3 times more elderly people above 65 years old are volunteering, from 4 percent in 2004 to 11 percent in 2006.

In total, there are 30,000 more volunteers in 2006, bringing the total number to 470,000, or 15.5 percent of the population.

In developed countries like the UK, volunteer participation rate is 30 to 40 percent.

However, total donations dropped by $97m to $341m.

NVPC says the problems in the charity scene last year caused public confidence to take a dive.

"The survey showed that public confidence had taken a knock after the incident with the NKF, and has contributed to the drop in donations," said Tan Chee Koon, CEO of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre.

"However, I would not attribute the entire drop to the NKF issue. The issue had instead caused people to sit back and think afresh about their giving patterns; the silver lining is that people are more thoughtful about how and where they want to give their money," he added.

More donors - 21 percent in 2006 compared to 9 percent in 2004 - are also planning their donations, instead of giving only when asked.

More significantly, donors are also more discerning. Some 22 percent of donors asked for information on the charities, compared to just 9 percent previously. About a 31 percent cited the lack of clarity on how their donations were used to be most dissatisfying.