Students explaining to Lions Befriender staff how to use the volunteer manager system that they built.

Technology can be a powerful force for good —from connecting us while we are apart during the pandemic, to empowering individuals with smart tools to increasing productivity and overcoming the challenges of remote working or schooling. In recognition of that, GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, is supporting the new NUS Centre for Computing for Social Good and Philanthropy (CCSGP).

Launched by the NUS School of Computing, CCSGP’s vision is to cultivate a giving spirit among future technology leaders. The Centre provides its students with opportunities to serve the community, such as through the Computing for Voluntary Welfare Organisations (CVWO) initiative.

GIC has been a long-time supporter of the CVWO initiative, where NUS students build IT systems that enable VWOs to run more effectively. The VWOs are then able to deliver more impact to the communities they serve when the administrative load is reduced through tech enablement. Over the years, these students have made a meaningful difference by leveraging on their skills for social service agencies such as Care Corner, MINDS, Fei Yue Community Services, and the Young Men’s Christian Association.

Ms Deanna Ong, Chief People Officer of GIC, said: “Through the GIC Computing for the Community Fellowship Award, we support the CVWO initiative which seeks to develop students holistically to be confident community leaders. We believe that these students can make a meaningful difference in the communities they serve through the optimisation of work processes and customised IT systems.”

By automating processes for community partners, social workers can spend less time on administrative work and more time delivering impact in the community and service users.

For instance, the CVWO students partners with Lions Befrienders, a social service agency that actively engages volunteers to befriend isolated seniors. Streamlining the charity’s volunteer management system onto a mobile app, the one-stop platform makes it easy for volunteers to sign up for elderly befriending activities, as well as report on the status of the elderly they are befriending.

This initiative is a win-win for both the community service sector and for NUS students. On one end, social service agencies are enabled by the tech systems they need, and on the other computing undergraduates get exposed to real-world learning opportunities. By leveraging existing strengths to serve the community, the CVWO project is adopting an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach that focuses on using strengths and existing assets in the community to derive solutions.

GIC adopts the same approach when designing its social impact programmes. The belief is that ABCD delivers a long-term multiplier effect, in bringing about sustainable, confident and inclusive communities where we work and live.