Giving back to society
"If you learn, teach. If you get, give." - Maya Angelou
It's weird to say it, but not all companies exist as money making machines. There are those who buck the trend, channeling their profits into giving back to the needy, helping us grow into a more gracious society.
One such company that might surprise you is the household rice brand Songhe, which was recently voted a Top Brand in Influential Brands' 2015 survey in the Rice category. We did some digging into them and discovered that they have a socially-conscious history, including the Good Man Good Deed campaign - a campaign that some of us might remember from advertisements on television.
With this in mind, we did some research into charitable campaigns held in Singapore and found 10 instances that will warm your heart and make you proud to be Singaporean.
1. Fold a crane for charity - Songhe Rice
For Good Man Good Deeds, Songhe Fragrant Rice’s debut campaign in 2005, the mission was simple: for every paper crane folded by the public, SongHe donated a bowl of rice (100g) to charity. The three-day event, organised by Shin Min Daily and held at Suntec City, was a huge success: 1,274,808 cranes were collected, six times more than the original target, and Songhe donated 127,480 kg of rice to 25 charity organisations!
2.Skydiving for charity - iFly Singapore
You may be able to dance, but can you fly? As part of iFly Singapore’s social media cause marketing campaign, five local personalities - Dr Jia Jia, Munah, Randall Tan, Hayley Woo, and May - were invited down to participate in a five-episode reality series. The task - to go through a structured indoor skydiving training course!
Each personality had also pre-selected a beneficiary of their choice, such as Dr Jia Jia for Children Cancer Foundation, and they battled it out to win $37,000 worth of cash and prizes for their beneficiaries. The public joined in the fun as well, voting for their favourite personalities on Facebook.
Watch the miniseries on Youtube here!
3. Donating unused talktime and SMSes to the needy - Starhub
#4G4Good is a one-of-a-kind campaign in which Starhub offers its postpaid subscribers (those of us with monthly bills) to "donate" their unused data, SMSes, and talktime to the less fortunate in August 2014. Starhub describes this initiative as a consumer-driven one, with Starhub merely playing the role of enabler.
In addition to donating their unused airtime, Starhub also encouraged the public to donate their pre-loved mobile phones to the less fortunate. The beneficiaries for this programme included the less fortunate from the Asian Women’s Welfare Association, Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore, Industrial & Services Co-Operative Society, Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, and Society for the Physically Disabled.
4. Spreading acts of kindness on Facebook - Songhe Rice
Not all charitable campaigns have to focus on money or goods. In November 2012, SongHe decided to focus on something more intangible: acts of kindness. In Grains of Kindness @ North West, a two-month long Facebook campaign from 7 November 2012 to 7 January 2013, Singaporeans from all walks of life were encouraged to capture kindness in action in a photo, or pledge to do a kind act. With each photo or post on the North West CDC Facebook page, Songhe donated 10kg of rice to the needy.
In all, 27,000 kg of rice were donated to lower income households, with postings on the Facebook page ranging from giving up a seat on public transport to helping parents out at home to giving out free rice overseas. With the "pass it on" nature of this campaign, the legacy of this 2 month-long campaign is sure to last long after the last grain of rice is finished.
5. Run a kilometer, help a child - Ascott
What’s better than running alone? Running with your friends and colleagues to raise funds for charity! In August 2014, The Ascott Limited kicked off Moving Feet, Touching Lives, a three-month long fitness campaign to celebrate their 30th anniversary. For every kilometre covered, Ascott donated S$1 to Save the Children, the world's leading independent organisation focussed on the betterment of children's welfare everywhere.
But better than that: with a portfolio spanning over 82 cities, Ascott's staff globally was encouraged to join in the fun! From Singapore and London to Bangkok and Philippines, the staff went for runs together, while others took part in Zumba activities and basketball tournaments. By the end of September, Moving Feet, Touching Lives had clocked up more than 100.000 km, raising more than $100,000 for needy children around the world.
6. Making a bald statement for childhood cancer - Children's Cancer Foundation
To raise donations and create empathy for children with cancer, Children's Cancer Foundation started the Hair for Hope campaign, asking volunteers to shave their heads to understand the difficulties faced by children with cancer. This creates awareness of childhood cancer in Singapore and sends children with cancer a message: it's okay to be bald.
Over time, Hair for Hope has evolved, with an online portal now allowing shavees to post their stories to encourage others to join, as well as to invite donations from the public. Some of the stories are heartwarming, with at least 2 shavees this year raising over $50,000 each for the children. A good message encouraging a good cause, we hope this spirit of giving will endure in Singapore.
7. Spreading the Christmas cheer to the less fortunate - The Boys' Brigade
Every Christmas, the Boys' Brigade spreads the Christmas cheer by collecting products for needy households through their Share-A-Gift campaign (formerly known as The Boys' Brigade Sharity Gift Box). Share-A-Gift is different from most campaigns to help the needy as they don't ask for monetary donations - the Boys' Brigade challenges us to spend some time, effort, and thought into getting something our beneficiary needs.
Christmas 2014 was the 27th year of Share-A-Gift, an event that benefitted more than 40,000 people and fulfilled 8,135 wishes. With the main helpers behind the project being the young men in the Boys' Brigade, we hope this is a good indication that Singapore's on the right track to a caring and more inclusive society.
8. Walk in the shoes of the less fortunate for a day - Habitat For Humanity
“We wear no shoes to remember those with no homes.”
All of us own at least a pair of shoes or flip flops, and the thought of leaving home without it has never crossed our minds. Unfortunately, millions of people walk around barefooted every day in developing countries. Habitat for Humanity’s annual Bare Your Sole charity walk gives us a chance to literally walk in these people's shoes, raising awareness for what they go through daily.
Bare Your Sole has been going strong since 2009, with the 2015 edition at Sentosa Beach attracting 6,000 participants. Funds raised are channeled towards Project Homeworks, an initiative that improves the living conditions of the sick, elderly, and physically challenged people living in one-room flats all over the island. You can find out more about Project Homeworks here.
9. Serving 30,000 meals to the less fortunate - Samsui Supplies
The Makan Project: 30,000 Meals Challenge is part of the Samsui Supplies & Services Pte Ltd’s mission to support non-profit organisations in Singapore. To celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday, they aim to serve 30,000 meals to disadvantaged groups in 2015. If you’d like to bring a “Samsui experience” to the less fortunate, simply sponsor a meal for $2 and direct the meal to any beneficiary organisation of your choice!
10. Igniting the spirit of giving in our youth - Tong Seng Produce
Knowing that the 2009 recession hit the needy the most, NorthWest CDC and Tong Seng Produce Pte Ltd, Songhe Rice's parent company, launched Rice that Binds, Cranes@NorthWest to provide needy families with an essential food item: rice. For every paper crane folded, Songhe would donate 1 bowl of rice (~100 grams of rice) to the needy. NorthWest CDC canvassed help from schools in the area, including Hwa Chong Institution, Greenridge Primary School, and Xishan Primary School.
1,750 students from Primary 2 to 5 participated in the launch of Rice that Binds at Nanyang Primary School, which besides raising rice for the needy, broke Singapore’s record for the number of cranes folded in one hour! Altogether, 19,688 paper cranes were folded that day within an hour - shattering the previous record of 10,056 cranes folded by NUS students.
The spirit of giving is alive
Seeing companies go an extra mile to help the needy make me proud to be Singaporean. I do my best on my part, giving up my seat on the MRT for the elderly or the disabled, but seeing companies do it on a far grander scale warms my heart.
We have to keep the spirit of giving alive - whether it's through shaving our heads to show we care or by folding a paper crane for one bowl of rice for the needy, your support will go a long way. Spare a thought - you might be saving a life.
Currently supplying over 2000 retail outlets islandwide and with a clientele base which consists of major supermarket chains, convenience stores, hotels and restaurants, Songhe is one of the most trusted rice brands in Singapore.
With an eye on always being socially conscious, Tong Seng Produce Pte Ltd, the parent company of Songhe, has grown and diversified into the oil and sugar markets. Today, Tong Seng Produce Pte Ltd stands as one of the leading rice importers and distributors in Singapore and has expanded trade overseas to include international customers in Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Burma and Indonesia.
About Influential Brands
Influential Brands is a consumer insight driven awards programme which provides a platform for brands to celebrate their achievement; for consumers, businesses and stakeholders to recognise the brands’ efforts in arriving where they are today. The study conducted by Influential Brands is purely consumer driven and the Top Brands are selected by consumers through their perception and preference, demonstrating the level of impact and influence of the brands in each consumer’s life.
Influential Brands seeks to identify consumer preferences, their behaviours, values and to understand how the ever-changing environment affects consumer experience in the purchase journey. The programme is tailored to enrich the brands’ relationship with their consumers through ongoing meaningful conversations and engagement.
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This post is part of Influential Brands 2015, where we highlight the most influential brands in Singapore.