Would you donate $80K to charity? This security guard did, on his 80th birthday

A few days ago, The Straits Times published one of their more worthy articles of late. They profiled three everyday folk who made generous donations to causes close to their heart. This is a story we need so very much at this time.

Why is this so?

Anyone who’s ever lived in Singapore knows how hung up most people are about money. We are a nervous bunch. Singapore is an expensive place to live in these days. And we have loads of first world problems.

Will we have enough to buy that car? Hire a domestic helper? Get that Chanel handbag for Christmas? Go on a week-long holiday to (insert exotic location)? Send our kid to the most prestigious preschool? Cos my three-year-old absolutely has to do math and learn all the flags of the world by his fourth birthday?

And of course the perennial worry of whether you’ll have enough to live by and enjoy some luxuries throughout retirement. (This is me.)

Well, not these folks. Three people who do not earn the most money (ok maybe that retired engineer did) but who also give the most.

How generous were they? (Sorry The Straits Times sneakily made this a paid story; it was free at first.) One school bus attendant who makes just $800 a month gives away $100 to her community. Another, a security guard gave out $80,000 on his 80th birthday. A retired engineer donated a couple of millions for a medical cause.

What? How? Why? Do they survive on air?

No, they don’t. They just found something bigger than themselves that they believe in.

They know that someone else out there needs that buck more than they do? It is not a question of whether you can afford to give; rather, I believe this is what they asked themselves, “can I afford not to give?”.

These kind souls are shining beacons of light that the rest of us can look to for inspiration. They remind us that the metrics of “success”, of “happiness” is not how much wealth, power and “stuff” you accumulate for yourself. (*frantically clears all online shopping carts out of shame*)

Success as a human is about how you relate to the world, to mankind. It is the impact that you make to your loved ones, neighbours, the community and animals. They don’t teach that enough in schools. Heck, we don’t teach this enough to our own kids.

But hey, it’s never too late to start right?

Even if you aren’t ready to part with a chunk of your salary – I sure as well can’t – there are still lots of ways you can cultivate a more “giving” spirit. Here are some easy quick-starts:

  1. Smile at the next person in the lift. Even if most of them remain stone-faced, keep on at it. A kindred soul will return that smile!
  2. Make ad-hoc donations on Give.asia. There are tons of causes (all vetted) to choose from. You can choose an amount you are comfortable with as and when you are able to.
  3. And if you can, give your time by volunteering. There are ad hoc events that don’t take as much time, and you can also do it as a family! You may write in to various NGOs or charities to enquire.





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