The pitfalls of donor bias

The pitfalls of donor bias
Professor Leo Tan and Mr Joe Gentry standing in front of Apollo the dinosaur, with baby Twinky in the background.

SINGAPORE - Two universities grabbed the headlines last week for raising a hefty $100 million each for their programmes, scholarships and bursaries.

Yet the cash coup by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) was just one of many multimillion-dollar donations from philanthropists to the cause of education that have made the front page in the past decade.

While universities and big-time donors hog the limelight, charities for less popular causes plod along quietly, wondering if they will be in the black for the new financial year or have adequate reserves for a rainy day.

As Singapore moves to become a more inclusive society, most donors are giving to uplift the poor through, first, education, and then to health, the elderly and the disabled. Some may support the arts, sports, and causes for the environment and animal welfare.

But where is the place for less attractive social concerns - migrant workers, ex-offenders, people with HIV and those with mental illnesses - and their charities?

Insight looks at the issues around how the charity pie is sliced.

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