Charity their influence – noblesse oblige Building schools,

Charity was
valued in the past.


In the past,
charity was carried out by the wealthy as a means of giving back to the
community. It was a value held high in regard.

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Means for wealthy
philanthropists to make an impact or extend their influence – noblesse

Building schools,
hospitals and public institutions
Missionary groups
started schools, orphanages and provided other important social services

Public services back
then were usually not as comprehensive, with limited govt funding

E.g. SG pioneers were
well-known philanthropists such as Tan Tock Seng and Tan Kah Kee

Funded schools and
hospices as a way to contribute to society

E.g. Rockefeller
Foundation – private foundation established in early 20th century

Profound impact on
american society
supported education in US “without distinction of race, sex or creed”
Established renowned
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Harvard School of Public


Today, it seems
to be declining, eclipsed by other competing values.


21st century is
characterized to have a more materialistic and consumerist culture –
pursuit of a pleasure-seeking lifestyle

Acquisition of
material wealth is fully justified and endorsed by most
Seen as a trope of

Intense competition in
most meritocracies requires one to think of one’s own self-interest first

Notion of giving or
helping takes a backseat


Some have the notion
that the poor or those who have fallen behind to not deserve help because
they are not good enough / have not done enough to keep up with the rat
race, thus do not deserve help

E.g. former US
presidential candidate Mitt Romney commented at a private fund raising
dinner that 47% Americans who don’t pay tax are poor because they are not
taking responsibility for themselves

Increasing wariness
towards offering charity as some see this as merely enabling their lack of
initiative to take responsibility for themselves


Charity is dispensable
when an individual feels his well-being is compromised if he gives to
another person in need. More crucial to meet his own needs first

E.g. plight of Syrian
refugees have created one of the biggest humanitarian crisis in the last

Met with hostile
response from European nations
Less than welcoming
as migrants are seen as people who are too culturally different to be
accepted and require millions of dollars to upkeep
discrimination against in Germany where hostels for refugees have been
attacked and torched


Today, complex
business of philanthropy has been dogged by scandals that has led to
donors being more sceptical about charitable causes
Unaccountability and
lack of transparency in some organisations have raised questions about
their credibility, use of funds and how much of the donor’s money actually
goes to helping the recipients of charity

E.g. 2012 viral
Invisible Children campaign revealed that charity mismanaged donor funds

Channeled them to
film-making and promotional work rather than those it purports to help
Faced considerable
public backlash

E.g. Cambodia
orphanages invited media scrutiny

Set up solely to tap
on foreigners pity, when some orphans are in fact children with families

E.g. Trump’s son Eric
faced media scrutiny over revelations about his charity for children with

Funnelled up to $1.2
mill to Trump Organization for use of a golf course for a charity event

Notion of charity has
been sullied, thus people are more hesitant towards giving


Even so, there
is still place for it today as people have not stopped being generous and
showing their desire to help those in need.


Despite discouraging
signs that seem to point to the decline of charity in our consciousness
today, there are many who still believe in the virtue of charity enough to
commit themselves to it

E.g. wealthy
philanthropists Bill Gates and Warren Buffet

Bucked trend of
keeping wealth to themselves and in fact pledged to give most of it away

E.g. Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation

Made significant
difference to improving healthcare for the poor especially in prevention
of malaria and cholera in Africa

E.g. Zuckerberg and
Chan foundation

New initiatives to
find cures and vaccines for diseased

People who still give
despite having little

E.g. Greece

Not in the best
position but have not given up on charity
Local Greeks face
austerity drive and struggling economy but are known to help refugees
who land on their shores by giving out milk to infants and clothes to


Charity is timeless
and universal, relevant regardless of times

Individuals have
responded generosity to perfect strangers who may have little in common
with themselves
E.g. crowdfunding
platforms Give ASIA and

Social media has
made giving much more accessible, changing the nature of charitable
Donors can now
respond to individual causes as they deem fit

Increasing awareness
due to social media and technological advances


Charity is
still very much valued and evident in many aspects of society. Some may be
cynical, given the fact that it has been exploited to unethical entities that
seek to profit from to rather than to do good. But this does not been charity
has lost its place entirely today. There are still many that commit themselves
to charity to help those in need and change the world for the better.



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