200 Years of Philanthropy presents an overview of Singapore’s giving landscape from its founding as a British colony in 1819 to the present day.

ACSEP’s agenda to explore philanthropy has led to interdisciplinary work that identifies global and local trends in historical and contemporary times. The aim of this project is to trace the country’s giving tradition through 200 years of acts of philanthropy by both ordinary and influential Singaporeans. This will give an understanding on how the landscape of philanthropic giving over the last 200 years in Singapore has evolved. This project delineates the philanthropic landscape of Singapore across a spectrum: individual giving, family giving, grassroots giving and corporate giving.  

Finally, in celebrating the impact of giving through the Project, we will also commemorate the many selfless individuals who have helped forged the heritage of Singapore. Our development as a nation is underpinned by the generosity and consideration of ordinary and influential Singaporeans.

Through our research, we hope to contribute to new, undocumented knowledge in Singapore’s heritage that demonstrates philanthropy and voluntary action as a central part of Singapore’s historical narrative.

Events

We are currently planning our upcoming events for Impact Assessment and Social Performance Management. Please come back to our page again for future updates or write in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be included into our mailing list to receive updates on our upcoming events and research.

Below are some of ACSEP publications and events that have contributed to our knowledge of social performance management and impact assessment among social purpose organisations in Asia.

Philanthropic Foundations in Asia: Insights from Singapore, Myanmar and China

By Pauline Tan and Swee-Sum Lam

Technical Report No. 2 

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Overview of Charity Sector in Singapore: 2007-2013

By Alfred Koh, Swee-Sum Lam and Weina Zhang

Philanthropy in Asia: Working Paper No.3

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Philanthropy in Transition: An Exploratory Study of Asian Women and Philanthropy in Singapore, 1900-1945

by Yu-Lin Ooi

Philanthropy in Asia: Working Paper No. 2

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Philanthropy on the Road to Nationhood in Singapore

by Roshini Prakash and Pauline Tan

Philanthropy in Asia: Working Paper No. 1

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Framing the Roots of Philanthropy

By Swee-Sum Lam, Gabriel Henry Jacob, and David Jeremiah Seah

Basic Research Working Paper No. 2

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TEACHING CASE

Lien Foundation - Philanthropy for Social Innovation

By Achsah Ang and Swee-Sum Lam

Philanthropy in Asia: Working Paper No. 1

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TEACHING CASE

Tsao Foundation - A Catalyst for Change

By Achsah Ang and Swee-Sum Lam

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Feb 2017
10
Case Study Workshop on Philanthropy: Social Innovation in Community Health
Venue: Shaw Foundation Alumni House

The workshop will trace the growth and development of Lien Foundation - the first grant-giving organization in Singapore to professionalize.

Taking the example of a specific project in the area of eldercare, the case study demonstrates how philanthropy can be conducted entrepreneurially - by identifying the resources available, and the principles to abide by in the decision making process in a dynamic environment.
Jun 2016
10
Singapore's Early Women Philanthropists (1900-1945) Research Seminar
Venue: Mochtar Riady Building, NUS Business School

We know of many Asian men who were philanthropists in Singapore, but why is there a deafening silence when it comes to the contributions of women in Singapore’s philanthropic history?

Author Yu-Lin Ooi spoke on how she looked for answers as to how Asian women contributed to early Singapore’s philanthropic growth from 1900 to 1945.
Dec 2015
16
Philanthropy On the Road to Nationhood Seminar
Venue: National Library of Singapore, 100 Victoria Street

Philanthropy has always been at the core of Singapore's DNA.  ​

Authors Roshini Prakash and Pauline Tan at this session to learn more about how giving has evolved in Singapore from 1945 till today, what are the key drivers of giving over time​and how have the public, people and private sectors supported the community in mutually reinforcing ways.
Nov 2013
25
Philanthropy to Social Entrepreneurship Seminar
Venue: Mochtar Riady Building, NUS Business School  ​

Prof Gene Tempel, Founding Dean of the Indiana University (IU) Philanthropy, Public Affairs, and Business Delegation, gave a presentation on the topic “Philanthropy to Social Entrepreneurship, where he discussed the origins of philanthropy and philanthropic trends, including the development of philanthropy to more formal systems, such as social entrepreneurship

Through our research, we hope to contribute to new, undocumented knowledge in Singapore’s heritage that demonstrates philanthropy and voluntary action as a central part of Singapore’s historical narrative.

We have planned:

  1. To conduct historical and anthropological research on Singaporean giving culture, trends,  influences and institutionalization
  2. To publish a coffee table book delineating 200 years of Singapore’s philanthropic history

Please come back to our page to check on updates of our future research and education efforts in Impact Assessment and Social Performance Management.

Collaboration Opportunities

We welcome collaboration opportunities and support for our research efforts to advance understanding and impactful practice of social entrepreneurship and philanthropy. If you are interested in research collaborations or funding our research efforts, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..