Making a Difference, only Bigger, through Giving Circles


Alfred Poon



“We can do so much more together,” was the reverberating message from AVPN’s Friday’s casual get-together about Giving Circles (Jan 16, 2015). This month, we had Ruth Jones, CEO of Social Venture Partners International (SVPI), share her 8 years of experience and expertise in managing Giving Circles across Asia.

Giving Circles connect and engage individuals, fund non-profit and social-purpose organisations and allow for collaborative effort for greater impact.

This session brought in leaders and representatives from industry, corporate finance, family foundations, volunteer organisations, impact funds and more. Although their backgrounds are very different, they all came with the same purpose: to make a bigger difference through collaborative giving. Patsian Low from DBS Foundation sought to understand “how a corporation can contribute to Giving Circles”, and other philanthropists also expressed that they were “looking towards generating giving”, and to “connect with what is happening in Singapore”. The session was engaging and personal, with participants drawing on their prior experiences in philanthropy as well as varied models of Giving Circles to generate debate. For example, Jayesh Parekh of Jungle Ventures shared about being part of two Dasra Giving Circles in India. Ruth was able to deliver practical advice to address certain problems our participants faced and still face, from the technical to the human aspects of being part of a Giving Circle – optimum size, deal procedures, building relationships, managing expectations and more. Other topics include that of managing peer groups as opposed to family groups in Giving Circles, brought up by Anita Langlois of Family Business Network, and how to deal with cause-specific funding as addressed by Mark Sayer of Drayhall Group. Despite being halfway across the world in Seattle, conversation was lively and flowing, with ideas bouncing through the screen and around the room, truly embodying a global knowledge transfer. Perhaps the greatest value from the session was the meeting of minds as our participants were able to meet and interact with other AVPN members who are equally driven to make a difference, both at the organisational and the individual levels. When Lee Wong of Coutts & Co expressed a desire to “get started and do something in a way that is manageable and controllable”, our participants rallied in support, offering both financial backing and non-financial skills. It was an afternoon of inspiration, of connection and of laughter over a delicious lunch, and most importantly, a kick-starter of greater social impact. AVPN’s Friday sessions are a monthly gathering of our community around selected topics, look out for more details on our upcoming events at our Events Page.


A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training


Alfred Poon


Alfred Poon is Director of Digital Transformation of AVPN. He is a geek by nature, adman by passion, and holds a Masters in Nonprofit Communications from Indiana University. Alfred spends his time building communications infrastructure that brings people together. Prior to joining AVPN, Alfred has consulted for Social Purpose Organisations in over thirty countries, bringing his unconventional mix of nimble technology to enable data driven communications

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