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Size does not matter when it comes to charity

Small survey firm Toluna provides pro bono use of its services as a way of giving back to the community


WHAT do you do when you are a company with few people, yet still wish to do your part for charity?

That's the dilemma facing survey company Toluna. With a small number of people working in its Singapore office, the company realised that there simply wasn't enough manpower to do the things it wanted to do for charity.

"Our Singapore team is lean, and it would be difficult to schedule manpower to take time off for volunteering," Christine Tan, senior director, South-east Asia at Toluna, said.

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This was the reason the company decided, with a complement of just 15 people, to instead provide pro bono use of its services as a way of giving back to the community.

Toluna describes itself as more than just a company that provides a platform on which surveys can be done. By using digital insights, Toluna looks to help its customers make better decisions by helping them automate their research process.

It was because of this strength in digital analytics that the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) decided to team up with Toluna for a variety of market research initiatives. NVPC has worked with Toluna for more than a year to help harness the company's edge in the digital space to effect real change in day-to-day business.

A quarterly survey, sponsored by Toluna, has helped NVPC understand the mindset of Singaporeans across all ages, as well as their priorities in life, providing the centre with valuable information on what needs to be done to get people to start giving back to society.

"We used the survey to derive actionable insights that has helped improve the content that we push out on and helped us shape national campaigns like Giving Week," said Jeffrey Tan, director of knowledge and advocacy at NVPC. For instance, through their portal, NVPC worked with Toluna to identify what kinds of content work best with different audiences, to help better target its marketing to match the right causes to the right givers. helps to ease the difficulty normally faced by charities, by providing a platform on which anyone can donate money or volunteer his time to charity work.

As a result of the information provided by the survey, NVPC saw "significant increases in donations across charities because of the strategic insights provided by Toluna", said Mr Tan.

During Giving Week, NVPC also used Toluna's platform to help understand the effectiveness of various marketing channels, such as digital, social media, or even print, which has proven useful to achieve better allocation of resources.

Mr Tan said NVPC has since started spending more on digital media and social media because of their effectiveness in spreading advocacy messages across to their target audience.

"We also use the survey to track our progress as an organisation. The survey acts a regular pulse check allowing us to track awareness and giving behaviour on a quarterly basis for all our programmes," Mr Tan added. "This allows us to better evaluate and measure our programmes with greater precision and accountability. Before Toluna, it was challenging for us to measure public sentiments towards giving."

Toluna has been providing NVPC the use of its survey platform on a pro bono basis since December 2016, when it piloted its first survey for Giving Week 2016. Toluna's Ms Tan said surveys help most non-profits learn about the givers' - donors' and volunteers' - mindsets.

"Running surveys and research helps in understanding what makes people tick. It helps non-profits to better reach out to other Singaporeans, or to make the giving journey a smoother one," said Ms Tan.

Working with NVPC, Ms Tan said, has been a fulfilling one, and the company is looking to extend the partnership, as well as forge new ones.

As the local team expands, the company wants to eventually go into more hands-on volunteering efforts.

"With more headcount, we may be able to schedule corporate voluntary activities. "It would be a good change to get out of the office and work with beneficiaries directly," she said.

  • This article is part of a series highlighting inspiring companies that are catalysts of change in corporate giving. The Business Times supports NVPC's Company of Good programme as a media partner.
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