Cover Jacqueline Chua (left) and Maggie Chen

Maggie Chen, co-founder of Girls in Charge, and Jacqueline Chua, a leader in the world of wealth management and chair for Inspiring Girls Singapore, offer expert advice on the art of giving back

In a post-pandemic world, we’re more acutely aware of the need to support those around us than ever before. Covid-19, for all of the havoc that it wreaked, changed our perceptions and shone a light on the strengths that can be found in a society that looks out for each other.

These aren’t just assumptions, either—in a recent WealthiHer survey, 53% of women said that they want to share their time, be a role model, and give back to their communities.

The problem that many of us face, however, is knowing where to start and what you need in your proverbial toolkit in order to do so. Many people assume that money is key to philanthropic endeavours, but with the help of two incredible women, we dispel this myth and propose pointers on what is in fact important and necessary when it comes to charitable work.

Maggie Chen is the co-founder of Girls in Charge, an award-winning non-profit social enterprise that aims to upskill all women through fun and gamified content. Jacqueline Chua, meanwhile, is a leading wealth management expert who also acts as the chair for Inspiring Girls Singapore, an organisation dedicated to raising the aspirations of young girls around the world by connecting them with female role models.

In this video—and in the highlights below—Chen and Chua share powerful and impactful pointers for those looking to make a difference to the world around them.

1. Know that giving back doesn’t have to be costly

Volunteering and philanthropic endeavours can come in many forms and undertaking these activities doesn’t always have to mean handing over large sums of money yourself. Chua gives the example of contributing your own skills to smaller charities. “The likes of marketing, legal, finance, fundraising and communications are very important to organisations that need help but can’t afford to pay for expertise,” she says. “As such, the chances are they will welcome you with open arms if you're offering pro bono work.

Another route very much worth considering is mentoring. “A long time ago, I developed a mentoring programme for the Financial Women’s Association of Singapore,” says Chua. “We provided a series of short sessions with senior bankers to females who were in the middle of their careers and were either looking to move up the ladder or figure out their next step or stage. All the bankers had to give was a little bit of their time over the course of a six-month period, and we’ve had a very successful 11 years as a result.”

2. Practise model behaviour

“Role modelling is similar to mentoring,” says Chua. “But it doesn’t have to mean sharing best practices or experiences.”

Relatability, Jacqueline believes, is more important to Gen Z than listening to a hero or icon. “Even if you’re just fresh out of university, you could still role model for someone. You could be telling stories about obstacles that you overcame when you were 16 or even 12. That’s what being inspirational is all about—it’s taking a life story from a specific time and telling another young person about it in order to build up their confidence and give them hope. In doing so, they’ll also learn the art of resilience and keep that with them for when times are hard.”

See also: How to Find a Mentor: 19 Expert Tips on How to Make Mentorship Work for You

3. The time is now!

Chen thinks that there is a perception that philanthropy is something you turn your hand to when you’re older and wiser. “You work for a couple of decades and then when you’ve reached your pinnacle, you start giving back,” she says. “But it doesn’t have to be like this. Every single one of us can contribute in some way or another. I personally think that helping and supporting the next generation is so important—it’s about passing the baton on so that they in turn are then able to support and empower those who come after them.”

4. Know your values

Anyone who has ever undertaken any form of coaching knows the importance of establishing your values, and Chen believes that having a firm understanding of these can be extremely beneficial when it comes to philanthropy.

“The first thing to do is get your vision straight in your head,” she says. “Get a piece of paper and write down every single thing that is important to you. These could be global issues or local issues—anything at all—just get them all down. When you have your list, start to prioritise and rank them. What is most important to you, what do you feel most passionately about? And once you've done that, think about how you can contribute to each of these agendas.

“When I did this, I was left with three words: women, entrepreneurship and university. So, I realised that what I needed to do was to help women who were at university find out more about entrepreneurship.”

See also: How Women of Hong Kong Is Building a Community of Likeminded Ladies

5. Do your homework

Once you have established precisely what it is that you want to do, it’s time to see if someone else is already doing it, “Because if they are—congratulations, you've just saved yourself a bunch of time!” says Chen. “Join their organisation. You’ll still be able to make a big impact—you just won’t have to take that first step yourself.

“When I was doing my initial research, I found that a lot of organisations focused on entrepreneurship for students, but not for female students. What’s more, they were really struggling to recruit women to participate in their programmes. I also discovered that many companies were helping to empower women, but not necessarily within entrepreneurship. So there I had it—our niche.”

6. Find your tribe

Also high up on your giving back to-do list should be ensuring that you are surrounding yourself with the right people. “Start by building a small team,” says Chen. “At the beginning of Girls in Charge, there were only three of us, but we were able to encourage and fuel each other. Look for people who fill your skill gaps, too, because then you are saving yourself time.

“Once you have your small team, start reaching out to the community that you want to help. These are your beneficiaries and you need to engage with them as much as you can.

Chen is also of the opinion that something so many people fail to do right at the beginning is secure experts for their board. “We quite quickly saw that what we lacked was creditability. We were so small, so why would anyone back us? Building a network of experienced mentors and advisors helped us so much here and really paid dividends in the long run.”

7. And breathe

Chen warns against trying to do too much, too fast. “If I could go back in time and speak to my younger self, I’d stress the wise words of both my piano teacher and my driving instructor, which were ‘slow down’”, she says. “I’d stress the importance of taking a moment to reflect on what I’ve already achieved and to think about why we’re doing what we’re doing before diving into the next step.

“I have always been a doer. I want to pursue ideas and test them out. But while I’ve been on this journey, having my co-founder Nikita [Wad] saying, ‘Hang on a minute, why are we doing that? How will this help us achieve our goal in the long term?’ has really helped me think more strategically. This is why I implore that others slow down, take a breather and make sure that they are always working towards their true purpose.”

This masterclass and the research behind the article were produced by The WealthiHer Network as part of its partnership with Front & Female. WealthiHer is on a mission to drive the economic advancement and empowerment of women on a global scale by equipping them with the knowledge, tools, and confidence they need to prosper. 


Meet 5 Inspiring Women in the Philanthropy Scene in Singapore

Opinion: Why You Should Honour the Inspiring Women in Your Life

Simple Steps You Can Take to Support and Invest in Sustainable Businesses

A resource for women to become their best selves, Front & Female celebrates trailblazers and tackles timely, provocative issues through inspiring content and events. Join the community by subscribing to our newsletter and following #frontandfemale

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.