Connecting expats to local charitable causes, the team behind non-profit charity organisation 100 People Doing Good is driven to give back. SUSANNAH JAFFER chats with the team behind this great concept.
Embarking on an expat adventure and all that comes with it – settling into a new job or setting up a new career, finding the right school for the kids, creating a comfortable home and navigating a new environment and culture – can be both thrilling and challenging. With our hectic schedules and long to-do lists, some could argue that it can also become quite a self-consuming one. Stop and ask yourself this: when was the last time you thought about giving back to your adopted home, instead of continuously trying to build up and improve your own?
I asked myself this question recently, and, to be honest, realised I’d given it little thought. Instances of poverty, discrimination, abuse and injustice are better documented and more visible in other Southeast Asian countries – Singapore’s social issues, in comparison, fly slightly under the radar (perhaps because they tend to be less publicised). That’s why the driving mission behind organisation 100 People Doing Good is exactly that: to raise awareness of charities within Singapore and the causes they fight for.
In addition to their day jobs as financial advisors at Globaleye Singapore, each of the team is passionately dedicated towards engaging the expat community with charitable causes through fun, informative and empowering events. In a nutshell, 100 People Doing Good is providing a space where business and charity meet, work magic and make a difference. Chairman Brian Gillies, board member Isa Schaller and events director Lisa Montford tell us more.
Give us some background to 100 People Doing Good.Where did the idea spring from?
Brian: The concept stemmed from my involvement with a completely different company in the UK called Pilotlight, an organisation that gathers senior business leaders together from different industries to volunteer their time and skills to help a charity work on its growth strategy. It was founded by a lady called Fiona Halton, who was one of the original founders of Comic Relief in the UK. Two years ago, the Singapore government approached Pilotlight as they were looking to build a skill transfer charity, and so that’s how I ended up getting involved. The Singapore version of Pilotlight is called TalentTrust, and it was finally formed five months ago, as it took a while to start up. 100 People was founded in the interim, while I was getting impatient for TalentTrust to get off the ground! Having been involved in charity work since my mid-twenties, I was itching to get something up and running here as soon as possible.
Tell us more about the concept behind 100 People.
Brian: While we were building TalentTrust, I was meeting and chatting to a lot of people who wanted to get involved in giving to charity, but had no clue where to start. Because of that, I was constantly questioning how to identify the good charities and how I could get in touch with them. One day, while Lisa and I were discussing just that, we came up with the simple concept for 100 People Doing Good. The aim is to gather 100 people in a room to listen to a few different charities speak about their work, and we ask each of them to bring 100 dollars to donate towards the cause of their choice at the end of the night – it’s that simple. We fund the cost of the event, and 100 percent of audience donations goes towards the charities.
We love the simplicity of the idea.
Brian: Thanks! Each of the charities presents for six minutes and then takes three minutes of questions from the audience. After that, you can choose which one you’d like to give your donation to. The idea is not just to raise money for the charities involved, but to introduce the expats to worthy local causes, while also providing an opportunity to meet and network with like-minded people. Not only do the nonprofit organisations benefit from funding, they often make great professional connections that can benefit them in the future, What’s more, quite a few of the people attending our events have gone on to volunteer their time for a cause and a charity that has touched them.
TalentTrust: How it works
Each member of a team of industry leaders gives two hours a month of his or her time to work on a charity. For the first six months, they observe the company’s operations – what they’re spending money on, how they set their goals, and so on. For the next six months, they impart their skills and knowledge to members of the organisation and teach them how to make a business plan to grow its operations over the next five years. Eventually, TalentTrust hopes to achieve the same great results as Pilotlight. The average growth of a charity in the UK is about 5 percent a year, but after the Pilotlight scheme, the average growth every two years was around 54 percent – a huge jump.
What types of local charities have you partnered with?
Isa: Locally, we’ve held events with charities such as Aidha, Willing Hearts, Home, Aware, Wings, Sportcares and many more.
Lisa: We try to work with a range of charities, and especially to offer a good mix of different ones at events. What’s more, with all the charities we get to support and meet through 100 People, we also come across some who could have the potential for development with TalentTrust.
Brian: So, on the one hand we’re raising money for charities through events, but then we’re also putting skills into those charities to help them grow. Across the board, we’re doing what we can to improve and expand the charity sector in Singapore.
Tell us about the type of events you’ve put on.
Lisa: So far, through a series of events since June 2015, we’ve been able to raise in the region of $150,000 dollars for charity. As well as 100 Women and 100 Men Doing Good, we also run a highly competitive and fun pub quiz called Quiz Wars. We always strive to make our events as fun as possible, so they’re memorable and enjoyable in addition to being purpose-driven. We’ve also started to take the concept to corporate entities, and had a very successful event last month with Aon. We’re hoping to build on more opportunities like that next year.
What challenges are you facing and what keeps you motivated for the future?
Brian: Historically, the charity sector in Singapore has had a number of issues. It’s very well regulated, and there are a lot of hoops to jump through. That’s why it took quite a while for TalentTrust to get off the ground. There’s also the general challenge of raising awareness of what we’re doing and the cause behind 100 People. What keeps us all going is that we believe strongly in the cause, and generally in making a difference in the world.
Lisa: Definitely. Singapore can be such a rat race culture and we’re all living busy lives, so our event attendance has been building up slowly. We’ve developed a loyal following of fantastic supporters in the expat community though, which we’re very grateful for!
Isa: Despite this not being our day job, it’s something we take very seriously and have made a huge part of our lives. On a personal level, after experiencing the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and being part of the charity efforts afterwards, I knew that I wanted to make giving back a part of my life – I find it very rewarding. For all of us, I think, the best thing is that doing this comes naturally.
By Susannah Jaffer | Photography Michael Bernabe
To learn more about 100 People Doing Good and to keep up with their events, visit 100peopledoinggood.com or follow the team on social media. Their next event will take place on 8 February