Local startup attracts charitable donors with luxury car as raffle prize, Singapore News & Top Stories


SINGAPORE – A new social enterprise raises money for charity by attracting donors with a raffle that offers luxury prizes such as cars or even private apartments in the future.

His decision raised concern among authorities, however, with the Charities Commissioner (COC) saying he was looking into the matter.

Launched Wednesday, August 29, local social enterprise The Given Company (TGC) is holding donation raffles on its website, where donations made to its selected charities will give donors the chance to win prizes like a Mercedes Benz car.

The next day, the COC office issued a statement saying it was drawing TGC’s attention to the relevant legislative requirements. In particular, the requirement that fundraisers have a written agreement with charities before soliciting funds.

The statement also said the COC did not endorse TGC’s operating model and urged donors to exercise discretion in these online appeals.

But TGC co-founder Charles Tan, 33, who had worked for financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, said he believed his company had met all relevant legislative requirements.

“We understand that our operating model is relatively new in Singapore and therefore it may take some time before it is accepted by the general public,” said Tan, who noted that TGC had written agreements with the four charities listed on its platform.

Charitable organizations include: Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Singapore, Alzheimer’s Disease Association, Life Community Services Society and The Rice Company Limited.

Mr. Tan started the business with his wife Cao Xin Xin, also 33, who previously worked in the investment bank.

He said donors have the option to donate to charities other than the four listed, adding that he doesn’t think this counts as soliciting donations for other charities.

He argues that TGC methods could be a more sustainable form of fundraising, as it is a win-win situation for donors and charities.

In addition, organizations like the Singapore Children’s Society have held similar charity raffles, he said.

“We want people to get to a point where they unconditionally give and volunteer their time and money, but we think sometimes people need a boost, so that’s all we try. to do, “he added.

For the first draw, donors can purchase a t-shirt from the website for $ 20 to claim a ticket for the draw. Prizes are worth over $ 180,000 in total, including a new Mercedes-Benz CLA 180 coupe that sells for around $ 160,888, and cash prizes ranging from $ 8 to $ 10,000.

The company plans to take a commission of around 5-10% on each donation for subsequent prints, to help pay for prizes and other operating costs.

People in the charitable sector have expressed some concerns about its methods.

Ideally, donors should be motivated by genuine concern for the cause, said Jeffrey Tan, director of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Center for Knowledge and Advocacy.

“Our research shows that although tempting big prizes can generate a sudden influx of funds, it does not change the mindset of donors as the focus is on the price rather than the impact they will have. “, he added.

Similar efforts in the past have fallen into disuse, said Alfred Tan, executive director of the Singapore Children’s Society, who cited the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) fundraising efforts in the 2000s.

The NKF also used raffles to attract donors with prizes like private apartments, but people protested against the idea of ​​giving money for the prizes, he added.

Donors may be put off by this method of giving because their good intentions can be misinterpreted as they instead want the prizes, said Alfred Tan, who noted that charity raffles are not a core part of fundraising efforts. organization funds.

The charities on TGC’s list, however, are supportive.

Ms. Selina Sebastian, Deputy Executive Director of SPCA Singapore, said: “For many years people have become accustomed to the idea that giving must come from the heart, and this is also the kind of spirit that we want to instill. .

“But we realized that incentive giving reaches a different audience, who may want to support the cause but haven’t, so it will always be nice to give them a little push,” she added.

Rice Company director Tan Tee Tong said TGC could provide more opportunities to increase awareness among small and medium-sized charities.

“However, we will continue to follow the COC’s advice and strictly adhere to its recommendations,” Tan Tee Tong said.

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