Video source: The ALS Association
Some have begun to realise that such initiatives may not necessarily suit them, let alone result in real change. So they take action, but in a different way—by working with others.
One such company is Ang Chin Moh Funeral Directors. With more than 100 years of history— having provided funeral services in Singapore since 1912—they understand what it means to leave behind a legacy before someone passes away. Working with Company of Good, they teamed up with the NTU Wee Kim Wee School of Communication to document a project called The Last Portrait.
Through their day-to-day work, Ang Chin Moh found out from social workers, hospice care and nursing home staff, that when the elderly in their care pass away, they don’t usually have a good portrait photo—a frequently overlooked aspect of a dignified funeral. Through this project, Ang Chin Moh hoped to raise the death literacy of Singaporeans through public education campaigns, but were unsure if other nursing homes had a need for or were able to accept the programme.
By leveraging on Company of Good’s network, they managed to collaborate with different organisations to make The Last Portrait a success. They tied up with small and mid-sized companies, pooling resources with organisations of different expertise like nail salons and hairdressers.
The project saw them taking really good portrait photos of elderly residents at nursing homes such as St Andrew’s Nursing Home and Lin Kwang Nursing Home. The elderly residents were pleased that someone bothered to take a proper studio-quality photo of them for free.
While an individual company trying to do ad-hoc volunteering events may sound good, there is only so much scale and traction one enterprise can go. But, when a company shares a common cause with other members (such as the ones in the Company of Good) by pooling different expertises together, these efforts can stack up and stretch further in a sustainable and meaningful way.
Another company that’s bucking the generic CSR trend and tapping into this network is Maybank Singapore, perhaps an unexpected example for anyone who thinks of banks as rigid enterprises. When the bank launched its new flagship concept branch at Orchard Shopping Centre, it saw the opportunity to find new ways to support social causes aligned to its key CSR focus of financial empowerment, employability and livelihood.
The Company of Good programme not only helps companies in Singapore to do good, but to do them really well in impactful ways. Members can team up, collaborate and effect change in the community through a common cause, ultimately benefiting both businesses and communities.
To be a member of Company of Good, a company just needs to visit COG’s website and sign up to be a part of the community. To date, COG has over 1,500 corporations as members, both large and small, benefiting from corporate giving resources, programmes, events and workshops.
Maybank’s collaboration with ArtSE, a social enterprise by Goshen Art Gallery, is an example of a meaningful partnership, to support the livelihood of Singaporean Artist Sim Kah Lim, while livening up the place with his beautiful artwork. Mr. Sim might be well-loved for his paintings of Singapore landscapes, but he became a well-known personality after it was made known that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and paints from memory.
When Sim was 8, he came up tops in his first art competition (organised by Goodwood Park Hotel). He wanted to be a professional painter, but his dream was dashed when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 15. He spent time in the then-Woodbridge Hospital and has been in IMH since.
Sharon Eng, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Maybank Singapore, shares: “The Company of Good Fellowship was a good leadership and capability building programme to help enhance corporate giving practices. Peer learning with other CSR professionals helped companies to learn best practices and discover new areas of collaboration. We had a great experience working with Goshen Art Gallery to curate paintings for display with their expansive art collection, and happy to support their cause to use art for social good through their social enterprise ArtSE.”
Beyond supporting employability through partnerships with social enterprises, the bank also started the Maybank Family Fund, which provides low-income families with free personal accident insurance for five years, equipping them with financial literacy skills and a matched savings programme.
With Company of Good’s 4 ‘I’s framework, Maybank was able to benchmark its corporate giving practices across four areas: Investment, Integration, Institutionalisation, and Impact.
This benefits everyone. By this I mean you, me, social enterprises, the less fortunate, corporations, and agencies. It can be creative, engaging, interactive or viral, but more importantly, it’s collaborative and pools resources. The term to take away here is gestalt—which means the organised whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. Like two people coming together and forming a family. Or a marketeer and engineer creating a company named after a fruit. Or a bank and art gallery conducting a workshop for a social cause. Or a funeral service, photography shop and education institute bringing joy and dignity to nursing homes.
Ultimately, it leaves an indelible feeling of goodness and warmth among beneficiaries and corporations. It doesn’t need to be forced, wayang-ed, or routinely executed in unauthentic ways. Done right, with peoples’ hearts at its core, and with the right collaborators, any company’s CSR efforts can go far. Who knows, it might end up becoming a movement, far and beyond what the company had expected from the outset.
The Company of Good connects organisations with a community of like-minded corporate givers to build a better Singapore. Organisations can sign up for initiatives like the Company of Good Fellowship and Champions of Good. The latter recognises organisations with exemplary corporate giving work and collaborations with partners and stakeholders. Since its launch in 2017, there have been 74 Champions of Good, so it’s set to grow even more. Maybank and Ang Chin Moh have leveraged on the network and made amazing strides towards the causes they believed in. You can do the same.