For a more caring and involved society

SINGAPORE - I thank Dr V. Subramaniam for his observation about how actively contributing to a cause we care about can enhance our quality of life as we age ("Volunteerism can promote successful ageing", Forum Online; last Thursday).

When we contribute our time and talent to a cause that speaks to us, we benefit mentally, emotionally, socially - and perhaps even physically.

This may be particularly pertinent to those in - or transitioning into - their golden years, when they find that the time, talent and creative energies once devoted to their professional responsibilities no longer are. Volunteering for a cause is an exceptional way to continue applying ourselves purposefully and meaningfully at any age.

According to the Individual Giving Survey conducted by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) released in 2012, volunteering in Singapore reached a high of 32.3 per cent. Among senior respondents, 17 per cent contributed their time and talent compared with 10 per cent of those who responded in our 2010 survey. As part of the giving community, we are very encouraged.

We agree with Dr Subramaniam that we should celebrate our volunteers. They are intrinsic to the success of any socially related cause. After all, any social organisation that has made a difference started precisely with the ethos of volunteerism - the desire to do good for its own sake.

This is why every year on Dec 5, the giving community celebrates International Volunteer Day. Last year, a concert was organised to thank all volunteers in Singapore for helping to build a more caring and involved society. This year, we want to invite more Singaporeans to consider sharing their skills and talents with causes they care about.

The truth is many non-profit organisations operate on relatively lean budgets and have a great need for more skills-based volunteers. We are very confident Singaporeans will respond positively to this invitation when the campaign starts later in the year.

Dr Subramaniam will also be pleased to know that NVPC actively promotes best practices in volunteer management. We conduct a regular series of workshops and training programmes designed to equip volunteer managers with insights and skills to make a greater impact in their engagement efforts. We fully agree that "the need for good management in the area of volunteer services cannot be overemphasised".

By sharing his thoughts on volunteerism, Dr Subramaniam has got many of us reflecting on our own capacity to share. Those who feel inspired to do so can visit for a list of volunteer opportunities - and make a meaningful difference to the causes and communities we care about.

Joel Chua

Head of Advocacy

National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre

This article was first published on June 20, 2014.
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