Covid-19 has hit communities and companies equally hard, and charities are not exempt.

Many charities – big and small – have felt the pandemic’s blow on their rapidly diminishing reserves. They are still feeling the strain even as the economy recovers.

Adrian Lim, 54, Director for Care Services at Singapore Red Cross, tells The Pride that funds are tough to come by even before Covid-19 happened. “If you look at the Red Cross annual reports, we run deficits for certain years even if it’s a good year.”

This year’s fundraising challengers are sobering.

For example, the circuit breaker put a strain on the already stretched resources and staff at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled. Adrian recalls the team there cracking their heads trying to secure meals for the residents. While caring for the residents, the employees had to live in conference rooms until Phase 2, minimising contact with their families to keep them safe.

The biggest effect of Covid-19 on charities is that it has brought physical fundraising activities like charity events or galas to screeching halt.

“Fundraising is about 40 percent of our revenue, so if you don’t raise funds there would be a big gap,” Adrian says. “And not many solutions are out there.”

During the circuit breaker, the Red Cross Home for the Disabled had donations from other charities like The Food Bank Singapore, and telco companies provided residents with gadgets to keep in contact with their families. However, the residents’ welfare still needed to be looked after; diapers, feeding tubes and indoor recreational spaces were some on the long list of items the home desperately needed.

Steven Lau, 54, who founded Blue Star Charity in 2018, shares the challenges of hosting charity events in the pandemic. “We tried to make it simple, and low-cost. But even then, we also feel resistance because times are bad.”

He recounts the hard work his team put in to pull it off, especially searching for sponsors and donors. “We must talk and talk and talk… sometimes we get it, and sometimes we don’t.”

Blue Star Charity adopted the Red Cross Home for the Disabled as a beneficiary after Steven made a visit to the home in Lengkok Bahru. Its annual walkathon had to be put on hold indefinitely earlier this year due to Covid-19. Steven eventually picked the idea up from other charity events and decided to go virtual.

However, virtual walkathons still depend on participation from the public to successfully bring in funding. Here are some you can help:

Blue Star charity walkabout

Image source: Blue Star Charity Asia

Started by Steven and a group of ex-NPCC friends, Blue Star 2020 Virtual Charity Walk is an ongoing walkathon to raise funds for its beneficiary, Red Cross Home for the Disabled.

The home provides 24-hour care for its residents, who are mentally and physically disabled. It caters to up to 100 adults and 30 children, providing support from nursing professionals and speech therapists.

The 28km walk will be now conducted virtually over 15 days, from Nov 28 to Dec 13. Distance will be tracked via submitting screenshots from distance tracking apps to [email protected] on Dec 14. All proceeds would go to Red Cross Singapore. Registration closes on Nov 27.

Santa Run for Make-A-Wish

Poster for Santa Run event
Image source: Facebook / Santa Run For Wishes 2020

Donations are needed to realise dreams for the children of Make-A-Wish. The organisation helps children with critical illnesses live out their dreams by encouraging them to look past their physical limitations. Children have full creative control of their wish, and teams of staff and volunteers work with various stakeholders to pull it off.

Support the cause by participating in the year-end run, which is open till Dec 19. Participants can register here, then accumulate any distance from two to 50km. The runner with the longest distance clocked would receive a custom trophy, and there are other prizes to be won in bi-weekly giveaways on Make-A-Wish’s social media.

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Chicken or Egg Virtual Run

Poster for Chicken Egg Virtual Run
Image source: / Our Chicken Story

Which came first? Find out by joining Team Chicken or Team Egg while feeding the needy in rural Cambodia and Thailand. Our Chicken Story is dedicated to assisting the malnourished villagers in these countries.

Eggs in Singapore may be readily available, but they are a rare delicacy for such communities. So the organisation works with locals in these areas to identify beneficiaries before providing the training and resources to start small-scale chicken farms.

Participants can run in three categories: 1km, 5km, and 10km till Dec 31. Every sign-up provides enough chickens to feed one person; every three sign-ups feed a whole family. Register here.

Bright Vision Hospital iWalk Charity Walk 2020

Poster for iWalk Event
Image source: / Bright Vision Hospital

Help needy patients who need long-term medical care cope with their bills by taking a walk. Bright Vision Hospital is Singapore’s first charitable community hospital, taking care of patients with chronic illnesses and providing rehabilitation services. With more than half of its beneficiaries coming from low-income families, donations are needed to sustain treatments.

Participants can walk for distances of three to 10 km over a week, from Nov 30 to Dec 5. Register here.

Ride for Aidha

2 cyclists for Aidha
Image source: Facebook / aidha

Aidha, which in Sanskrit means “for that to which we aspire”, aims to help foreign domestic workers and low-income Singaporean women achieve economic independence through financial education, wealth creation and entrepreneurship.

Its financial literacy classes provide beneficiaries with saving and budgeting tips. Donations help the organisation continue to run classes and achieve their vision for breaking the poverty cycle.

You can participate in the OCBC Cycle 2020 as team Aidha till Nov 15. The team is made up of Aidha volunteers, supporters, students and staff. Support them by making direct donations and follow for updates on Aidha’s social media.

New ways of raising funds

Charities are adapting to new ways of raising funds in the virtual world. Adrian tells The Pride that many new factors have come into play for virtual events such as online fundraising concerts. These new skills include learning the ropes of live streaming or even catering food for virtual event attendees via home deliveries.

No matter how dire the situation, charities cannot forgo hosting events, as donations from the public still remain a crucial part of the system.

While charities are trying to adapt to the new normal, Adrian encourages those championing similar causes to closely support each other; be it via financial means or complementing each other’s services.

“I think charities need a change… there is a need to share expertise between each other,” he says.

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Top Image: Make-A-Wish Foundation, Blue Star Charity Asia, Aidha