Over six weeks, the 46th Singapore Participating Youths’ (SPY) online fundraiser raised a total of $6,299 for charity. The project was the result of months of planning, resilience and heart by the 46th SPYs, navigating the disruption and challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Covid-19 and the Great Disruption
By February 2020, the escalating COVID-19 situation in Singapore and around the world made clear that original plans for a youth camp PPA were no longer feasible. Accordingly, the SPYs joined many other Singaporeans stepping forward to support the community through this difficult time. On 28 March 2020, the SPYs spent a Saturday at Woodlands Community Centre distributing free hand sanitiser to the public as as part of Temasek Foundation’s #BYOBclean initiative. Shortly after, Singapore went into a partial lockdown, known as the Circuit Breaker, to curb the spike in local COVID-19 infections, which meant plans for the PPA were put on hold indefinitely.

SPYs distributing hand sanitisers as part of the Temasek Foundation initiative at Woodlands CC on 28 March 2020

Pivoting the PPA

From June 2020, an improvement of the COVID-19 situation saw the country emerge gradually from the Circuit Breaker. Yet, challenges to organising the PPA remained, with restrictions on large group gatherings, strict measures on safe distancing, and lingering fears over the virus. The SPYs too faced disruption in their own personal lives, including financial constraints and disruption to schooling and work. Over a series of digital meetings, the 46th SPYs brainstormed on pivoting the PPA towards supporting COVID-19 needs. Eventually, the contingent decided on an online fundraiser for a charity impacted by COVID-19. With COVID-19 battering the economy, many charities suffered financially and some had even ceased operations to divert funds into other programmes.

With restrictions on physical gatherings, contingent PPA meetings went digital

Through the SG United Volunteering portal, the SPYs came to be aware of Boys’ Town – a charity that serves young Singaporeans – from infants to young adults – who come from disadvantaged and disengaged families, and may have faced hardship resulting from difficult home situations, financial struggles, abandonment, and abuse. During Circuit Breaker, several youths served by Boys’ Town had not been able to stay in their own homes and resided in Boys’ Town for shelter and to have a safe space. Boys’ Town also faced a significant decline in donations during COVID-19, impacting operations and programmes. In line with the initial PPA plans to outreach to youth, it was apt for the contingent to select Boys’ Town as the charity beneficiary.

In the spirit of the PPA, the fundraiser was titled “RaiseLoveRaiseFunds”, and was hosted on Singapore’s National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre’s Giving.sg fundraising portal. The team set a target to raise $5,500 together over a six week period, to commemorate Singapore’s 55th year of independence. However, there was also apprehension about the feasibility of a fundraiser, due to the challenging economic climate.

Publicity Collaterals from the RaiseLoveRaiseFunds fundraising campaign on Giving.sg

Having benefited from the SSEAYP programme, the SPYs hoped to ‘pay it forward’ by supporting fellow youths who were less privileged. With vulnerable segments of society (such as the beneficiaries of Boys’ Town) disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the SPYs hoped to do their part for this community. The fundraiser was also dedicated to the memory of Andy Iskandar, a facilitator during 46th SSEAYP who was a strong believer in the power of youth, especially supporting disadvantaged youths. Andy had been diagnosed with cancer after returning from SSEAYP, and succumbed to the illness in June 2020. 

Fundraising Efforts

From 30 August 2020, SPYs set out as individual advocates for Boys’ Town, engaging friends, family, and colleagues on the challenges faced by the charity, and rallying support through fundraising. The team were resourceful and extensive in their engagement, reaching out to the SSEAYP community, the 46th batch of PYs, and the Singapore SSEAYP alumni. In addition to individual fundraising efforts, SPYs also organised three contingent based fundraising activities, as follows:

Project 1: #Walk4Love

In small groups, the team embarked on long-distance walks across Singapore, uploading their journey onto social media platforms to raise awareness and share about Boys’ Town. Over six consecutive weekends, batches of SPYs braved sunshine and rain on hiking routes spanning across Singapore. Throughout the initiative, the SPYs showed grit and heart, challenging mental and physical limits to achieve personal bests for distance covered, all while keeping to groups of five in accordance with Government guidelines.

For the #Walk4Love finale, a team embarked on a 46km overnight walk from Pasir Ris to Joo Koon – the eastern and western tips of Singapore. In total, 19 SPYs participated in the walks, covering a combined total distance of 1310km over 11 long distance walks.

Over 6 weekends, 19 SPYs covered 1310km over 11 long distance walks around Singapore.

Project 2: #YoudoIdonate Squat Challenge – Individual Social Media Effort  

The outbreak of COVID-19 brought many unprecedented challenges, with many struggling to cope with the disruption and drastic changes at the societal and individual level. One of the positive changes was that many people started doing home workouts as a way to keep fit and remain active during the circuit breaker period.  Our team wanted to support the fundraising campaign by doing something that was fun and fitness-related, and came up with a squat challenge where individuals would do simple squat exercises to the tune of “Macarena” song (#YoudoIdonate Squat Challenge Tutorial Video – https://youtu.be/U8Y7EyIBvW).  To encourage more people to do the challenge, individuals would donate on behalf of their friends (amount at own discretion, with minimum $2 per pax) that have been nominated to do the challenge. Throughout the campaign period, the Squat Challenge videos generated a combined reach of more than 300 on Instagram and was a good avenue of publicity for SPYs to promote our #RaiseLoveRaiseFunds initiative. 

Creative attempts of #YoudoIdonate Squat Challenge by 46th SPYs

Project 3: #SpreadTheLove – Gifts of Appreciation

To raise awareness and funds, the 46th SPYs specially crafted tokens of appreciation to be gifted to campaign donors. Ranging from personalised notebooks, to masks bearing the print of the 46th SPYs’ cultural attire, and handcrafted flower bouquets, the gifts were either handmade by SPYs or born from tie ups with local businesses as part of Singapore’s efforts to #supportlocal. 

Donors could opt for their preferred token of appreciation based on the donation amount, and have them delivered to their doorstep. Alternatively, they could also choose to #spreadthelove and gift the item to an individual of their choice. Each item was included a COVID-19-inspired postcard designed by one of the 46th SPYs, and a personalised message of encouragement to tide over the challenging period. 

The gifts were well received by donors, especially the limited edition masks, and over 50 gifts were delivered to donors at the end of the campaign.

Tokens of appreciation lovingly crafted by SPYs to express gratitude to campaign donors

Conclusion

At the close of the fundraiser on 11 October 2020, #RaiseLoveRaiseFunds exceeded our  expectations, raising a total of $6,299 for Boys’ Town. In spite of the challenging economic climate, Singaporeans did not hold back in terms of their generosity and support. In addition to the amount raised through the online fundraiser, the SPYs also decided to supplement this donation with the balance of their contingent fund of $3,539, in a show of solidarity. The grand total raised for Boys’ Town was an amount of $9,838. More so than the funds raised –  the awareness raised for Boys’ Town, the generosity of Singaporeans, and the heart shown by the contingent were the true accomplishments.


The 46th SPYs would like to thank the National Youth Council, 46th SSEAYP, SSEAYP Alumni Singapore and our family, friends and colleagues for their support, generosity and contributions. In addition, we thank Boys’ Town for the opportunity to partner on this project, and for inspiring us through their meaningful work for the underprivileged in Singapore!

Submitted by 46th SSEAYP Contingent