The scale of major philanthropy in Singapore is likely to be considerably larger than we report.
Whilst 2014’s data collection for Singapore found fewer million dollar donations than in the previous year, it is likely that the scale of major philanthropy in the city state is considerably larger than we report.
This report relies largely on information in the public domain to identify million dollar donations in a given year. As not all gifts are announced publicly, our report is unlikely to have captured the full scale of high-net-worth giving in Singapore.
Pledges announced in previous years that were still active in 2014 are also not included, again indicating that the actual amount of million dollar giving may be much higher than our numbers suggest. As a result, year-to-year comparisons may not be helpful.
Corporations provided two thirds of Singapore’s million dollar gifts in 2014, and accounted for nearly 90% of the total value.
Of the 22 donations made last year, four exceeded $10m – though the mega gift from Totaliser or Tote Board (which has historically provided the overwhelming majority of donations in Singapore) has been stripped out from some of our analysis as an outlier, and is looked at separately in sections five and eight. Of the three remaining donations of more than $10m, two were made by corporations and one by a private family foundation.
Excluding those donations made by Tote Board, the most popular recipients were those in the public and social sectors. Higher education, human services and health were also common destinations for funds, while the arts and environment each received a single donation.
Six donations were made by individuals, with three stemming from multiple donors in the form of fundraisers. Of the single individuals, two chose to give to higher education.
 These include statutory boards (or ‘statboards’) such as the Tote Board, which are autonomous agencies established by the Singapore government to perform specific functions on its behalf.
Number and total
Singapore’s donors gave 22 gifts of a million dollars or more in 2014, with a combined value of nearly $536m.
89% of the total value of donations came from corporations (including statboards) or corporate foundations.
Average size of million dollar donations
Outliers aside, $7.7m was the average size of recorded gifts in 2014.
The average million dollar donation in 2014 was $24.4m, though this was unduly influenced by an exceptionally large gift. The median value (the middle figure in the series when they are placed in ascending order) was $3.5m, and is often a more reliable guide to donation size. Stripping out Tote Board, the average of the remaining 21 donations was $7.7m.
Value of million dollar donations
The total value of donations was influenced by one significant corporate gift.
The largest corporate donor in 2014 was the Tote Board, with a significant gift of $374m. This statboard, which operates in the betting industry, is in a unique position because it is mandated to contribute to various causes in Singapore.
The highest individual donation was $3.9m, which came from Chua Tian Poh. This went to the Skills Future Jubilee Fund, which offers integrated training and education for Singapore’s inhabitants as part of the recent Skills Future social scheme.
Source of million dollar donations
Corporations again provided the vast majority of donations.
A total of 15 million dollar donations came from corporations and corporate foundations. This amounted to $477m and accounted for 89% of the total value. Family foundations and individual donors contributed $40m and $19m respectively, equivalent to 7% and 4% of the total value.
Prominent among the corporate donors were three statboards, which are organisations mandated by the government to perform a particular function on its behalf. Statboards donated $385m, or 72% of million dollar gifts from corporations and corporate foundations. Donations from Tote Board alone made up 70% of all million dollar donations in Singapore in 2014. For this reason, the Tote Board’s donations are considered separately in section 8 below.
Location of million dollar donations
All donors either lived or were based in Singapore.
All donors either lived or had a significant presence in Singapore. But because the city state is small, no further analysis of the donors’ locations was undertaken.
Recipients of million dollar donations
All million dollar gifts stayed within the city state.
There were 21 recipients in 2014, excluding the large number of those receiving Tote Board donations. As some gifts were split between several organisations, not all individual beneficiaries received a million dollars or more.
As with the donors, all recipients were based in Singapore.
 This figure includes one recipient organisation that subsequently distributed the funds to 64 individual beneficiaries.
Distribution of million dollar donations
Healthcare received half the value of million dollar donations in 2014.
The largest number of gifts went to public and societal benefit programmes (6), followed closely by higher education institutions (5).
But when it came to the value of these donations, there were significant differences. Health organisations received $82m in gifts in 2014, making up 51% of the total value of million dollar donations (excluding those provided by Tote Board). Indeed, two of the $10m+ gifts were in the health care field; the Ng Teng Fong Healthcare Innovation Programme at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the National Cancer Centre. The National Kidney Foundation was also a key recipient.
Higher education programmes received $20m and the arts a further $19.8m – or some 12% each of the pot. Public and societal benefit programmes were awarded $18m in donations or 11.4%, while human services and the environment brought up the rear (with $8.7m and $7.4 million respectively).
Because Tote Board has such a significant impact on philanthropy in Singapore, it is worth taking a brief look at its trends. 2014 saw arts and culture receive its lowest sum in four years, while both charity (social services) and community development saw their highest levels. The Tote Board’s donations are excluded from the analysis below so as to examine the underlying trends.