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TAKING HEART

Maybank Singapore, The Majurity Trust launch special grant

The first-of-its-kind interest-free recyclable grant, worth S$2 million, is for promising small charities

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John Lee (left) and Martin Tan. The grant use is flexible, but must support the charities' plan to transform and scale impact.

Singapore

COVID-19 caught many by surprise and left businesses in a moribund state. The effect was wide-reaching and cascaded to impact many non-profit organisations - not least smaller charities.

Maybank, which reached out to help the underprivileged during the circuit breaker period, wanted to do more.

With that conviction, Maybank Singapore and The Majurity Trust, a philanthropic organisation, will launch Singapore's first interest-free recyclable grant to help small, promising charities in Q1 2021.

Maybank Momentum Grant, worth S$2 million, will help small charities (including non-IPC entities) tide over the medium term by providing an interest-free recyclable grant equivalent to four months of operating expenditure capped at S$150,000.

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The charities, however, have to repay the grant to The Majurity Trust within five years from the disbursement of the first tranche, so that other charities too will be able to tap an interest-free grant. The launch of Maybank Momentum Grant coincides with the bank's marking 60 years of operations in Singapore.

John Lee, country CEO and CEO of Maybank Singapore, said: "As a bank for the community at large, including non-profit organisations, the Maybank Momentum Grant strives to help smaller charities transform the way they work at a critical survival point, so that they can continue programmes for the vulnerable communities which face employment or financial needs."

Martin Tan, CEO of The Majurity Trust, said that emergency needs have taken priority amid Covid-19 and the giving landscape has shifted with resources being reallocated towards urgent needs that have arisen due to the pandemic.

A double whammy

"While this is much needed, the reallocation of funds by donors has adversely impacted smaller charities as they now see a significant drop in the donations they receive. It is a double whammy for such charities, which have been doing important work before the crisis, and whose services remain pivotal.

"The prolonged pandemic has hit our charities hard. Many are experiencing a drastic 50 per cent to 90 per cent drop in donation income. These are charities that have been doing important work tackling ongoing needs before the pandemic. From our stakeholder engagement, we discovered that some of these charities have an average of only three to six months of reserves left. Smaller charities, especially those which are not registered as Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs), are hit harder due to lower reserves and lean in-house capabilities."

A grant panel has been set up by Maybank Singapore and The Majurity Trust to assess and select charities that have a good track record and potential to widen their community impact. The grant use is flexible and depends on the charities' organisational and programme needs but it must align with and support the charities' plan to transform and scale impact.

One potential applicant is Limitless, which works with youths. Executive director Asher Low said the grant is timely. "Covid-19 has impacted us on several fronts. With events no longer possible, outreach took a hit and fundraising taking a further hit due to economic instability brought on by the pandemic. I think it is a great idea, if we are talking about operational funding. A charity at the end of the day cannot be 100 per cent funded by government grants. Its budget must be diversified across different sources to ensure the charity can run sustainably."

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