Youth for Caus­es: stim­u­lat­ing fundrais­ing in Singapore

Exhibited by
Usha Menon, Management Centre Asia.
September 11, 2010
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Social change campaign, volunteering, corporations
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

This exciting exhibit from Singapore demonstrates an innovative way to move away from the traditional grant-seeking model towards something more dynamic and self-sustaining. In nine years, the Youth for Causes programme has had incredible success in mobilising volunteers, in raising funds for hundreds of causes and in having a powerful and lasting impact on young fundraisers in Singapore.

Creator / originator

Usha Menon with Citigroup Asia Pacific.

Summary / objectives

Youth for Causes is a joint community initiative by Citibank and the YMCA of Singapore. Sponsored by the Citigroup Foundation, it functions as a social venture capital fund to provide young people, aged 15 to 35 years of age, with seed funds to execute creative and entrepreneurial ideas that will benefit and support a range of nonprofit organisations. This scheme also aims to help a whole range of charities to have access to new sources of funds and volunteers.


The dilemma of moving charities away from traditional grant-seeking models to a more dynamic and self-sustaining one can be frustrating. But over the past eight years, the Citibank-YMCA Youth for Causes – a programme that matches untapped resources with unmet needs – has shown that it might well have some of the answers. Youth for Causes was developed on the basis that there is always a lament in the nonprofit community that the ‘fundraising-pie’ continues to shrink. It also explicitly recognises the tremendous potential for ‘baking a larger pie’ if only the charity sector in Singapore could collaborate more.

Therefore, Youth for Causes came about when we, the Citigroup Asia Pacific public and community affairs operation, agreed that instead of the run-of-the-mill grant application for a ‘good cause’, we would endeavour to bring about a programme that combines those common values and complementary qualities of a bank and a charity.

After identifying and selecting YMCA Singapore to work in partnership with, Youth for Causes was born.  

Special characteristics

The mechanics of the programme are fairly simple. Over 100 teams, each with four aspiring community leaders, are chosen from the many entries. Each team is provided with S$1,600 in seed-funding from the Citigroup Foundation to benefit a chosen cause. A mentor either from Citibank or YMCA is assigned to each team to provide advice, creative input and project management supervision throughout the duration of the project (which typically lasts for about three to four months). Upon completion of the projects, awards are given to outstanding teams in three different age categories in recognition of how they have used their seed money and resources.

Influence / impact

The Youth for Causes programme is now into its ninth year of collaboration between YMCA Singapore and Citigroup. In total, over 1,500 youth volunteers have been directly involved in developing innovative ideas and have engaged over 45,000 other volunteers to participate in the implementation of these ideas. If built upon, I think these lessons can and will, help to create a more vibrant social service innovation scene in Singapore and beyond.


Under S$1 million has been leveraged to raise S$3.3 million in funds for 150 causes.


This is one of the very few Asian examples on SOFII that demonstrates the power of youth in Asia, when provided with an opportunity to make a collective impact. Many of their ideas have gone on to become regular revenue streams for the nonprofit organisations.

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Promotional material.
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