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OCBC Bank to increase focus on skills-based volunteerism by committing to 30% year-on-year growth

OCBC Bank to increase focus on skills-based volunteerism by committing to 30% year-on-year growth

  • 01 Aug 2022

The bank aims to set a new standard for corporate responsibility efforts beyond donations of money and food, to truly help uplift the disadvantaged segments in society

Singapore, 1 August 2022 – OCBC Bank today announced that it will increase the number of skills-based volunteer projects its employees undertake by 30% year-on-year across its regional markets. The bank aims to set a new standard for corporate responsibility efforts – beyond donations of money and food – by focusing on skills-based volunteering. Such volunteer efforts better support charities in uplifting the disadvantaged segments in the community.

Over the past two years, OCBC Bank employees in Singapore have contributed a total of 366 hours to skills-based volunteering, an increase of 52% from the number of hours contributed in 2017 and 2018, when the #OCBCCares Programme was first launched. Out of 12 skills-based volunteer activities carried out since 2017, eight were undertaken in the past two years.

Supporting those who help

According to a National Council of Social Services 2020 survey*, the key challenges faced by social service agencies lie in the areas of digitalisation, fundraising, managing manpower and volunteers, and leading their staff through crisis situations such as the recent pandemic.

Sharing how skills-based support can directly benefit the landscape for resource-constrained charity organisations, Mr Robin C. Lee, Food from the Heart’s chief executive officer, said: “Since the pandemic, we have witnessed a 34% surge in beneficiaries requiring food aid. Digitalisation and improving operational efficiency can help us address the rising demand for food security given manpower constraints and the need to provide food supplies strategically.”

“OCBC staff volunteers leveraged their data analytics skills to help improve our Community Shop operations. This has enabled us to provide a prompt and consistent supply of food items that beneficiaries want. With data-driven insights, a more meaningful and nuanced understanding of beneficiaries’ dietary habits will also help us shape the future landscape in food distribution efforts.”

A better way to help individuals and families

In scaling up its skills-based efforts, OCBC Bank will also work closely with charity partners to identify the underlying needs and challenges faced by beneficiaries themselves.

OCBC Bank’s charity partners have advised that equipping individuals and families with skills such as digital and financial literacy as well as entrepreneurship and personal management mastery makes a bigger difference in helping them to succeed than mere handouts.

Ms Koh Ching Ching, OCBC Bank’s Head of Group Brand and Communications, said: “Skills-based volunteerism is a lot more impactful and truly helps the less advantaged segments of the community. It is not as easy to undertake, compared to donating money or packing food, because it requires a lot more planning and development work. While our volunteers may have the knowledge and skills, we need to create simple- to-use tools and systems that will better suit the beneficiaries.

“Charities are also adapting to a rapidly evolving landscape. They are beginning to leverage the capabilities of organisations like OCBC Bank. This is possible because we support our charity partners on a long-term basis. The conversations with these partners become deeper and more meaningful. Some charity partners such as AWWA and Food from the Heart have been our partners for more than eight years. By matching skills to meet specific needs, our OCBC staff volunteers are able to provide targeted help to support those in need, giving them a much greater sense of achievement.”

Two examples of skills-based volunteering that OCBC Bank staff in Singapore have embarked on include:

  • Developing a data dashboard to help run operations more efficiently

While volunteering with Food from the Heart (FFTH), OCBC employees observed that data analytics could improve the operations of its Community Shops, which allow families to redeem 12 food items for free every month. Volunteers from the bank’s Group Data Office helped develop a dashboard that FFTH today uses to track the popularity of food items, stock sufficient supplies and to optimise shelf space for in-demand items, among other uses. Data is captured at the point families redeem food items. The shops, supported by OCBC Bank and located at Mountbatten and Boon Lay, serve more than 1,000 families.

  • Teaching low-income families how to manage money well

Working with Beyond Social Services, Care Corner Singapore and NTUC First Campus, OCBC staff volunteers taught more than 200 families how to manage money well, to avoid a hand-to-mouth existence. This initiative was initiated after our partners told us that the impact of a single event, such as a child falling sick, may not just erode a family’s finances for a short time but can keep ‘snowballing’. Many of these families gave feedback that they found the topics on budgeting and impact of compounding interest on loans most useful.

One volunteer who has leveraged skills honed at work to help the community – in his case by conducting cyber risk workshops for families in need – is Mr Kok Wee Ming, Vice President in OCBC Bank’s Information Security and Digital Risk Management department.

He said: “I have participated in many activities over the years including packing and distributing food to beneficiaries living in rental flats. Leveraging my expertise to help others, beyond a work setting, has a stronger impact as I am equipping others with skills to help themselves,” he said.

Read The Straits Times article featuring the report.


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