Singapore

Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore banks on Suzy Dolls to garner donations

A life-size doll of a girl wearing a blue dress and a leg brace stands in one corner, with a teddy bear in one hand and a donation box in the other.

You might have seen one of these Suzy Dolls before, which are placed in various shops to help collect donations for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS).

CPAS, which helps people with cerebral palsy and multiple disabilities, is running a campaign until Dec 31 to get the public to share their memories of Suzy or snap a picture of themselves with the doll.

There are more than 30 dolls at places including NTUC FairPrice and Subway outlets, and the charity hopes to place 30 more islandwide.

CPAS started the campaign after a supermarket chain, which it declined to name, returned close to 20 dolls at the start of the year.

Donations collected by the dolls fell by 21 per cent from 2016 to last year, its spokesman told The Straits Times, without giving details.

So it is trying to raise awareness of Suzy and its association with the charity, formerly named The Spastic Children's Association of Singapore, and raise more money.

"Donation boxes, in general, work as people drop their loose change into the boxes, but with cashless modes of payment becoming more prevalent, there are fewer chances for people to do so," the spokesman said.

"As one of the charities with a distinctive mascot-cum-donation-box, we think she is one of the nostalgic icons of Singapore that we are now at risk of losing."

Other charities interviewed also report that collections from their donation boxes have fallen in recent years. They said this was a result of people carrying less cash and loose change to donate.

For example, the Singapore Red Cross collected $3,181 from 18 donation boxes last year, down from $4,533 from 11 boxes in 2012.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) collected about $145,000 from its doggie and counter-top donation boxes in its financial year ending in June this year, down from about $187,000 in its financial year ending in June 2015.

The only charity interviewed that bucked the trend was the Kidney Dialysis Foundation (KDF).

It bagged $31,000 from its donation boxes this year, almost double that in 2012, when it got about $17,000.

One reason for this is that it now has 77 boxes at eateries and other places, compared with about 50 in 2012, said its manager for donor relations and communications, Ms Jemin Chua.

While collections from donation boxes have fallen, the sums donated through online channels, such as the charity websites or crowd-funding platforms, have risen. And charities expect online donations to continue to rise, given the convenience of donating online.

The Singapore Red Cross collected close to $630,000 from online channels last year, up from about $520,000 in 2012.

The KDF collected $382,000 through online donations in its last financial year, which ended in March this year, compared with $120,000 in 2012.

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