Singapore Aims to Establish Itself as Asia's Philanthropy Epicenter
Singapore is striving to position itself as Asia's heartland for philanthropy, as revealed by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong in a response to a parliamentary inquiry on September 18th.
Wong, who also holds the titles of finance minister and chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), detailed how various government bodies and MAS are collaborating with industry stakeholders to channel wealth towards meaningful endeavors both locally and in the broader region.
The query, raised by MP Foo Mee Har, who also heads the Wealth Management Institute (WMI), sought clarity on the necessary groundwork for Singapore to attain its vision of becoming a prime hub for philanthropy and the ways in which the government intends to nurture this aspiration.
Key Pillars of Singapore's Philanthropic Drive:
Cultivating Talent: Singapore has intensified its efforts to nurture advisory talent specialized in philanthropy. A notable development from 2021 was MAS's collaboration with the Institute of Banking and Finance to launch a tailored set of competencies for finance professionals, enabling them to offer philanthropy advisory services. This guidance emphasizes skills like assessing and suggesting philanthropic frameworks in line with donors' wealth and legacy goals. Singaporeans enrolling in affiliated training can also avail of financial support for their courses. Furthermore, an online portal is in the works, aiming to aid donors in evaluating local and global charities and understanding the influence of their donations.
Strengthening Partnerships: In a bid to foster a cooperative ecosystem, the government is actively promoting partnerships. The Economic Development Board (EDB) liaises with private foundations and global non-profits, emphasizing more impactful philanthropic endeavors. The WMI has also allied with MAS and the private banking sector to roll out the Impact Philanthropy Partnership (IPP), a platform that congregates affluent individuals and families, spurring philanthropic understanding and synergy through various events, forums, and studies.
Tax Incentives: Financial initiatives are in place to motivate philanthropy. MAS, in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance, has broadened tax incentive frameworks for single family offices. They now consider donations to qualifying local charities as eligible expenditures. Additionally, the Philanthropy Tax Incentive Scheme (PTIS) has been introduced, allowing recognized donors to avail tax breaks for foreign contributions. These novel incentives supplement the existing tax reduction rate of 250% for sanctioned donations, which has been extended to the close of 2026.
Upholding Trust: Assurance in Singapore's charity sector remains intact, with the Commissioner of Charities’ Office collaborating with partners to fortify local charities through governance codes, educational initiatives, shared services, and funding through the Charities Capability Fund.
Previously, at the Milken Institute Asia Summit 2023, Wong underscored the imperative of affluent individuals playing their part in nation-building, making meaningful contributions to society via taxes and philanthropy, all while adhering to the country's standards against lavish displays of affluence.
Moreover, the Temasek Trust recently declared multiple philanthropic strategies designed to bolster the ecosystem and foster talent. This was accompanied by a commitment, in collaboration with its alliance members, to allocate over S$1bn ($777m) to address environmental and societal challenges.