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The Giving Matters Forum, In Numbers!

Theatre, breakout circles with artists and baristas, a TedX-worthy motivational speech – the first-ever Giving Matters Forum was a thought leadership platform like no other. Here’s what went down.

8 Senior Actors Who Brought Down The House

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Made up of seniors and retirees, The Glowers Drama Group brought down the house with their original theatre production, Tonic Soup Kitchen. Performed by a cast (whose oldest member is 76 years old), the 20-minute play comically depicts the travails of a group of volunteers who start a tonic soup kitchen for elderly neighbours, but are overwhelmed by its popularity.

Along the way, the play gently poked fun at CSR clichés (cue the giant cheque presentation ceremony) and well-intentioned donors who fail to listen to the needs on the ground. The best punchlines were delivered with the blunt pragmatism of a Singaporean auntie (‘See what they give us – peanuts! How many old people living here got teeth to eat this??’) and the humour belied the play’s serious takeaway: Challenging people to think about what “doing good” really means. Bravo!  

1 Powerful Speech To Close The Day

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In one of the high points of the conference, closing speaker Dylan Wilk had the audience in stitches and tears with his inspiring story. A multi-millionaire at 25, Dylan – who specially flew in from Manila for the forum – gave up his wealth to work with the poor in the Philippines. He co-founded social enterprise Human Nature which employs 460 people and has sold over 16 million products in the last nine years.

Dylan shared his philosophy in life, including his controversial policy to never fire employees – even those who have stolen from him. His approach has “transformed” the lives of his employees, many of whom come from poor families and have internalised social judgment about them being “worthless”.

“If you want to be a change-maker, you can’t give up on the bad people,” he explains. “Take the 1 per cent of goodness that is in them, and turn it into 10 per cent.” 

25 Empathy-Filled Conversation Circles

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Guests got to interact at over 20 ‘Empathy in Action’ Circles – intimate breakout conversations covering People with Disabilities, Elderly and Children and Youth causes.

Each circle touched on topics ranging from how arts can uplift seniors, to the struggles of youth who are on probation orders. The cosy and casual setting of the circles encouraged people to get engaged with the presenters – a diverse mix of architects, policymakers, technopreneurs, baristas, nurses, artists and more!   

Various Thought-provoking Presentations

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What’s a thought leadership forum without learnings? Jeffrey Tan, director of knowledge & advocacy in NVPC, presented a life stage perspective of givers, providing a framework to make sense of Singapore’s giving landscape. Covering the life stages of youth, mid-lifers and seniors, he shared the challenges individuals face at each stage, and how giving can be better integrated into their lives. Check out the full presentation: The Singapore Giver: A Life Stage Perspective.

Morning keynote speaker Professor David Chan delivered a presentation entitled the ‘The Science and Practice of Giving’, while Dr Mary-Ann Tsao moderated an afternoon panel on tri-sector collaboration, featuring speakers across the government, business and social sectors, namely: Dr Ho Hua Chew, Executive Committee Member, Nature Society (Singapore), Mr Ang Kian Peng, Director, Samsui Supplies & Services Pte Ltd and Mr Anjan Kumar Ghosh, Director, Service Planning and Development, National Council of Social Service. 

… And 1 Tear-jerking Video

NVPC debuted an original video, A Giving Journey, at the Forum. It depicts one man’s journey from indifference to making a difference, after a friendship with an elderly woman inspires him to take action.  It is a tale of how giving truly is receiving. Enjoy!