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The Maybank Momentum Grant for Singapore Non-Profits
In keeping with our theme to start off 2021 with a focus on social giving and uplifting the less privileged who most likely suffered most from the debilitating effects of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, we are featuring another grant for non-profit organisations and charities.
The Maybank Momentum Grant
The Maybank Momentum Grant is the result of a collaboration between Maybank and the Majurity Trust, a philanthropic organisation. Funded by the former, and administered by the latter, the S$2 million grant is aimed at helping small charities, especially those that are not recognised as an Institution of Public Character (IPC) and are thus unable to allow donations to them to be tax deductible.
Charities who successfully applied for this grant will be disbursed funds amounting to four months of operating expenditure, capped at S$150,000.
This all sounds well and good so far. However, there is a massive elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.
Is this grant really a grant...?
The charities have to repay the grant back to the Majurity Trust within five years from the first disbursement.
Notwithstanding the fact that the funds returned will not be charged interest, or that the parties involved are touting it as an innovative “recyclable grant” because the returned funds can then be placed at another organisation’s disposal, let’s call a spade a spade.
Grants, as conventionally defined, refer to funds that are non-repayable. This, on the other hand, is essentially an interest-free loan, albeit with fewer restrictions.
Besides capital support, the Maybank Momentum Grant will also provide initial capability building for charities to kickstart their transformation efforts.
It claims to do this by organising strategy masterclasses and one-to-one consultation sessions with the participating charities in order to help them build stronger sustainability.
In addition, grantees will also be offered a gamut of SME banking solutions from Maybank, which will be subsidised. These include a current account with preferential time-deposit interest rate and a suite of digital solutions from the SME Start Digital programme.
Eligibility and Application
Charities in the social and welfare sector with a maximum of S$1 million in annual Total Operating Expenditure (TOE) and with less than one year of cash reserves are eligible to apply.
Charities who are interested can click here to make a grant enquiry and fill in the application form to provide key information on your organisation and plans to restructure and transform in a post-Covid world. Representatives from Maybank, the Majurity Trust and other experts in the charity sector will then evaluate the salary government grant applications and decide whether to disburse the grant.
The application window closes on 25th January 2021.
Smaller charities need more help
Martin Tan, CEO of the Majurity Trust, had identified that the Covid-19 crisis caused attention and priority to shift towards emergency and healthcare needs. This meant that resources, even charitable ones, were being radically reallocated.
Meanwhile, the resulting economic recession also meant that the masses understandably had rather less to give.
Smaller charities, especially those that are addressing societal needs which are unrelated to healthcare and the coronavirus, have thus ended up with the short end of the stick, with donations drastically drying up.
Should your organisation apply for the Maybank Momentum Grant?
As with the Google Ads Grant (which we featured earlier), there is a slightly cynical concern that help offered to non-profit organisations, particularly from non-government sources, while still badly needed, are often less than they purport to be.
The Google Ads Grant made US$10,000 in advertising credits on the Google Ads platform available monthly for eligible non-profits, but placed restrictions such that these credits could only be narrowly used and made it very difficult for a participating organisation to be able to make full use of the theoretically available funds.
Meanwhile, in this instance, it does not seem very likely that the majority of small charities or non-profits in need of help would find a repayable loan to cover four months’ worth of operating expenditure beneficial in the long term.
Other than financial aid, the other forms of support offered with this grant, such as the strategy masterclasses and banking solutions, might prove to be more useful, even though they do give the impression of being more than a little self-serving on the part of Maybank and the Majurity Trust. Not a lot of information can be found on this, and it is up to the individual organisation to decide if it is worth taking money that might prove difficult to repay (which, again, is not how grants conceptually work) in the future if these forms of support do not work out.
Of course, there is a reigning school of thought that charities must also learn to be more self-sustaining at least in diversifying its sources of funding, rather than relying chronically on government support. In that sense, the Maybank Momentum Grant grants an opportunity for an ailing charity to explore possibilities to innovate and restructure itself.
If you feel your charitable organisation is sufficiently imbibed with such entrepreneurial spirit, then by all means take the opportunity.
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