How To Preserve Your Family Legacy Through Philanthropy
When it comes to philanthropy, “You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. Any one of us can be a ripple for lasting change that impacts generations to come, as Madam Seah Sar, the late matriarch of the family behind the Chua Foundation in Singapore, has demonstrated.
Born in a village in Fujian, China, Madam Seah came from humble beginnings and took on odd jobs to make ends meet when she arrived in Singapore after the Second World War.
“My grandmother played a very vital role in shaping my values. Back then, times were tough, and despite her harsh living conditions, she would make time to help those in need,” says Chua Weiling, CEO of family office One Hill Capital and a member of the Chua Foundation.
Chua is also a big supporter of the Community Chest in Singapore, a non-profit organisation established in 1983 to raise funds for the country's social service agencies. One of its initiatives is Onefor10, which tailors strategic philanthropic plans for individuals with resources so that each gift achieves maximum impact, in alignment with the benefactor’s personal values and aspirations.
“Onefor10 offers causes that are close to your heart to create a connection between those who have the resources and have the ability to give, and those who are vulnerable in our community,” explains Chua, a third-generation philanthropist and the younger daughter of property magnate Chua Thian Poh, the founder of Ho Bee Group. “From there, you can match your philanthropic interest to needs, and decide what to focus your resources on.”
The initiative supports about 80 social service agencies that care for the disadvantaged in Singapore, including children with special needs, youth-at-risk, vulnerable seniors, low-income families, adults with disabilities, and people with mental health challenges.
“My grandmother was dedicated to caring for seniors and persons with mental health conditions, so it feels especially meaningful for me to support these causes,” recalls Chua. “She frequently brought the entire family to volunteer at homes for the elderly and children. When she passed away, the family decided to start a family foundation to preserve her legacy.”
Philanthropists need to think like entrepreneurs; they need to have a disruptive mindset and innovative thinking to break through the traditional cycle
— Chua Weiling
Madam Seah passed away in 2014 at the age of 93. To honour the matriach, Chua’s father and his siblings established the family foundation with a S$10 million endowment fund the following year.
“Chua Foundation goes beyond writing a cheque,” says Chua. “We believe in capacity-building and encouraging creative collaboration so we see ourselves as partners of the social service agencies we work closely with. Our role is to be the connector between different players in the ecosystem.”
The future of philanthropy is developing long-term solutions, and Chua believes that an entrepreneurial mindset is the necessary next step. “Without an entrepreneurial angle, solutions are usually very short-lived. Philanthropists need to think like entrepreneurs; they need to have a disruptive mindset and innovative thinking to break through the traditional cycle,” she suggests.
As for first-time philanthropists, Chua has this advice: “Be an intentional giver. Consider the purpose and what you want to achieve with your giving.”
“The charity landscape is very vast and it can be overwhelming if you do not have a direction or structure in mind. So you want to make sure that your donation is optimised and it creates impact."
Learn more about the Onefor10 initiative by the Community Chest (Singapore).