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Tony Soh, the CEO of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) debunks three commonly-held misconceptions about doing good, donations and our relationship to money. 

The three misconceptions of giving

Elevate your giving game by shaking off these misconceptions.

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The CEO of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), Tony Soh, brings a wealth of experience and a passionate vision to his role. His career, starting in the public sector before moving into the private sector and now the non-profit space, is a reflection of his ethos.

At NVPC, which sits at the intersection of the 3P (People,Private, Public) sectors, he seeks to channel his passion in unlocking the human potential to do good, and to catalyse collective action to build a City of Good.

In this exclusive sharing with Betterzine, Tony addresses three commonly-held misconceptions about doing good, donations and our relationship to money. He also delves into this concept of a City of Good, where everyone gives their best for one another.

Misconception #1: Philanthropy is just for the wealthy.

Think about “philanthropy” and you might associate it with influential or high-net worth people donating large sums of money to those in need - the key word being large. At NVPC, we want to change this narrative and remind people that, from the Greek roots of the word, philanthropy is simply about the love for humanity.

We do so by reimagining philanthropy in different ways through our work, where giving extends far beyond financial donations by the wealthy. We see it as everyone giving their time, talent, treasure, ties and testimony, everyday and everywhere.

This mindset shift empowers everyone to be a philanthropist beyond the current definition, where giving back, uplifting others and making a difference is accessible to all, regardless of our status. As more people come together to strengthen the community, we are able to foster a more caring, inclusive and compassionate Singapore, a City of Good.

Philanthropy is about love for humanity and is more than just large donations says NVPC's CEO Tony Soh. (Photo: National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre) 

Misconception #2: There is not much an individual can do to give back.

Reiterating the notion of everyone has the power to give, it is also important to note that every act of giving makes an impact, no matter how small.

One way is to start your journey by volunteering for a cause that you are passionate about, or just even making a small donation. You can do so by visiting giving platforms such as, where you can browse through the different volunteering and donation opportunities offered by more than 600 non-profit organisations in Singapore.

Should you want to do more, you can even start a fundraising campaign to encourage those around you to participate. Go the extra mile by encouraging friends and family to give to a charity for your birthday, instead of giving presents, or bringing a friend down to volunteer together on a weekend. There are so many ways in which one can contribute, we are only limited by our imagination.

Misconception #3: Giving only benefits the beneficiary in the short term

Contrary to common belief, giving is not just a one-way act where the beneficiary alone receives and benefits from the interaction. Giving goes beyond helping others and is reciprocal in nature – it benefits the giver and others around them as well. Numerous studies conducted globally over the years have shown that acts of kindness and giving make us feel happier.

Locally, NVPC conducted a study in 2018 which found that senior volunteers reported better health and life satisfaction compared with non-volunteers. In times of need, these senior volunteers also said they were able to reach out to twice as many people compared to non-volunteers.

Beyond the misconceptions to giving, it is heartening to see that Singaporeans are a generous lot. We were placed 22nd in Charities Aid Foundation’s 2023 list of generous countries in the world, with an index score higher than the global average.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw digital donations rise sharply, with receiving almost three times more donations in 2020 compared to 2019. Digital giving continued to remain strong, and in 2023 more than S$94 million was raised on

By embracing the reimagined view of philanthropy, Singaporeans can create a ripple effect of positive change, one act of care, consideration and kindness at a time. Ultimately, we can all play a part in creating a more caring, inclusive, and compassionate society - a City of Good for everyone.