Help for those who want to give help

Help for those who want to give help
Ray of Hope Initiative founder Danny Yong, (centre) 42, with (from left) Ms Sharmin Foo, 34, Manager of Ray of Hope Initiative, and the 4 directors Mr Brian Thung, 42, Mr Abdul Jabbar Bin Karam Din, 44, Mr Mark Wong, 42, and Mr Chris Chiu, 45, at Dymon Asia office on May 27 2014.

SINGAPORE - When hedge fund manager Danny Yong read the news in 2010 about an Indian national whose hands were badly slashed in an attack in Kallang and who could not pay his children's school fees, he wanted to donate money and help.

But after trying various avenues for some time, Mr Yong still did not know how to pass his donation to the foreign worker.

"In the end I got busy, life went on and I forgot to circle back to give," the 42-year-old told The Sunday Times. "Sometimes sympathy has a certain life span, sad as it may sound."

Mr Yong may not have succeeded in helping that particular man, but he has gone on to assist others like him.

In November 2012, he roped in his colleague Keith Tan, also 42, and founded the Ray of Hope Initiative.

The non-profit organisation aims to be precisely that middleman that Mr Yong had wished for a few years ago: to bridge the gap between those who have suffered a sudden crisis and are featured in the news, and donors who want to help but do not know how to get the money to them.

This is especially since most media outlets have, for transparency and governance reasons, become more careful about receiving cash from donors and re-channelling it to beneficiaries. This newspaper's policy, for instance, is to provide a donor with the contact or bank account details of needy beneficiaries it may have featured, so that donors can channel donations directly to them.

"If there is an easy way to facilitate giving right after someone has read a story in The Straits Times, I think it will help the recipient have more funds. We just want to facilitate you, a fellow Singaporean, helping a fellow Singaporean and that's it," Mr Yong said.

"If the Government helps (as in meets the person's needs), then it's great. But maybe sometimes, you don't really care. A donor may feel sorry about a needy person's struggles and want to donate some money, regardless of what financial aid schemes the beneficiary is on."

Ray of Hope wants to simplify and enhance this giving in several ways.

First, it features various cases on its website so that donors can choose whom they want to help directly. The money donated goes specifically to a beneficiary and his family, rather than a general pool of funds.

"You have a choice to pick A, B, or C. Or all of them, if you like," said Mr Christopher Chiu, the 45-year-old founder of creative services agency Ren Partnership, who sits on Ray of Hope's board of directors.

Next, Ray of Hope sets out a fund-raising target for each case and explains why this amount of money is needed.

That's currently the job of Ray of Hope's full-time manager Sharmin Foo, 34, who has five years' experience in running corporate social responsibility programmes.

Ms Foo evaluates each case, considering details such as a person's loss of income as a result of the sudden crisis he faced and his medical expenses. She then proposes to Ray of Hope's board how much money should be given, and stretched over how long a period. A majority of board members must approve the plan before funds are raised.

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