As a student, Sir Tom raised funds to release two prisoners from Robben Island prison in South Africa and send them to university. One of the prisoners eventually became South Africa’s Minister for Health. “It was one of those moments when the lights went on. I realised you could do something with your life which would make a big difference. You just needed the determination and will to do it,” he said.
Sir Tom was speaking about “Sustainable Philanthropy” at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Greater Good Series, which brings together leading minds to share their thoughts on topics related to philanthropy. He commented that acts of philanthropy can help the rich to spend money wisely and touch the lives of thousands but, philanthropy is difficult to do well. In the words of Andrew Carnegie, the steel tycoon and philanthropist, “It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than it is to earn it in the first place.”
Sir Tom’s tips for doing philanthropy well are to invest your money as you would in any business but do not expect a cash return; invest in people with a plan and a great idea; give time and expertise as well as cash; copy and be copied but do not duplicate; do what business and government cannot and will not do; experiment and take risks; and do not leave governance to chance.
The NUS Greater Good Series features talks by leading minds on topics related to philanthropy. These include generosity, giving and service to the community, as well as leadership, personal well-being and mental resilience. The series aims to raise awareness of philanthropy and its impact on society. The Series was made possible thanks to a generous gift from Newsman Realty Pte Ltd.
For further information on the NUS Greater Good Series, contact Jeanne Ng on Jeanne.firstname.lastname@example.org.