Launch of Refreshed Social Service Sector Roadmap and Fund to Strengthen Partnerships for Better Social Service Delivery

14 Jul 2022


SINGAPORE, 13 JULY 2022 – The refreshed Social Service Sector Strategic Thrusts (4ST), a five-year roadmap for the social service sector, was launched today at the annual Social Service Summit convened by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). Complementing the refreshed roadmap, NCSS also released the 4ST Playbook, and an upcoming 4ST Partnership Fund to empower the sector to strengthen social service delivery through innovative collaborations.

2          Hosted by NCSS President Ms Anita Fam, the sixth edition of the Social Service Summit was attended by Guest of Honour Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration; Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker and Advisor to NCSS, and about 800 social service professionals, corporates, donors, and government representatives to exchange ideas on creating an impactful sector. Themed “Forging a Better Future for All”, conversations centred on tackling the challenges of the future, guided by the updated strategic directions for the sector.

3          Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration, Mr Desmond Lee, said, “We have been building a stronger and more effective social service ecosystem over the years, where the public, private and people sectors have come together to support the more vulnerable in our community. With the refreshed 4ST as the roadmap for the sector, we can work better as a whole ecosystem to empower and uplift those in our midst who need more support.”

Building a future-directed social service sector

4          First released in 2017, the 4ST lays out pathways for individuals and organisations in the public, private and people (3P) sectors to contribute towards the shared vision of every person empowered to live with dignity in a caring and inclusive society. To better respond to emerging trends, NCSS released a refreshed 4ST roadmap to chart the sector’s progress from 2022 to 2026. 4ST (2022-2026) was developed after a year of consultations with 250 key opinion leaders and professional stakeholders in the 3P sectors, and encompasses new recommendations which include increasing the adoption of empowerment practices, strengthening social purpose entities that support vulnerable groups, taking more innovative approaches to philanthropy, and implementing strategies for resource diversity and sustainability.

5          Ms Anita Fam, who chaired the 20-member Steering Committee that oversaw the development of the 4ST (2022-2026), said, “With emerging trends such as shifts towards more integrated care, digitalisation of work processes, and new forms of philanthropy, coupled with increasingly complex social needs, the social service sector needs to be agile and adaptable. The new strategic thrust ‘Future-directed social service sector’ sets out the vision for the sector, by the sector. Together with the upcoming 4ST Partnership Fund, we hope these will guide the sector to go beyond meeting current needs and prepare to handle future challenges. NCSS, together with MSF, will continue to support the sector and take the lead on sector-wide implementation plans.”

6          To complement the 4ST (2022-2026), NCSS released a 4ST Playbook, which will be regularly updated with concrete steps, frameworks, and other resources for different stakeholders. A committee of sector leaders will also be formed to oversee and support the sector to implement these steps and plans over the next five years. More details will be shared at a later stage.

New fund to foster a collaborative and innovative sector

7          With growing appreciation across the sector of how different parties can come together to tackle complex issues, the 4ST (2022-2026) highlights collaboration as a catalyst to optimise resources and achieve more effective outcomes. NCSS will be setting up a new 4ST Partnership Fund (with an initial fund size of $5 million) later this year, which will support initiatives that take a collaborative and innovative approach towards empowering service users; and bring in new partners and like-minded funders to strengthen a holistic ecosystem of support for those in need. The 4ST Partnership Fund complements existing efforts such as the Community Capability Trust, which was launched in April 2021 under the 4ST, to drive capability- and capacity-building efforts within the social service sector.

NCSS celebrates 30 years of leadership and capability building in the social service sector

8         This year’s Summit also coincides with NCSS’ 30th anniversary. As part of the celebrations, NCSS has unveiled ‘Stories from the Heart’ – a series of 30 heart-warming stories of various stakeholders who have contributed significantly to the sector over the decades.

9          Ms Anita Fam said, “NCSS has come this far with the support of everyone in the sector – many of whom are contributing quietly behind the scenes. This also characterises the many helping hands needed from the sector, and from the community, so that we can uplift those in need. We hope to showcase their voices and experiences and inspire more to join us to nurture a caring and inclusive society for all.”


10        For more information on the refreshed 4ST and 4ST Playbook, please visit To read the ‘Stories from the Heart’, please visit


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For media enquiries, please contact:


Michelle Wong

Assistant Manager,

Communications Division

Ministry of Social and Family Development


Alvin Ho

Senior Executive,

Communications Division

Ministry of Social and Family Development



About National Council of Social Service (NCSS)

NCSS is the umbrella body for over 500-member social service agencies in Singapore. Its mission is to provide leadership and direction in enhancing the capabilities and capacity of our members, advocating for social service needs and strengthening strategic partnerships, for an effective social service ecosystem. Community Chest is the fundraising and engagement arm of NCSS and Social Service Institute (SSI) is the human capital development arm of NCSS.


About NCSS Social Service Summit

The Summit is NCSS’ annual signature event which brings together leaders from the social service ecosystem to collaborate for change. In line with NCSS 30th anniversary and refreshed Social Service Sector Strategic Thrusts (4ST), the theme for Summit 2022 is: Forging a Better Future for All.


About Social Service Sector Strategic Thrusts

The Social Service Sector Strategic Thrusts (4ST) is a five year roadmap for the sector, co- developed by NCSS with stakeholders in the social service ecosystem - member social service agencies, service users, government, community, business leaders and civic-­minded individuals. It is guided by a person-centred and holistic approach towards advancing the quality of life for individuals. The 4ST calls for active participation and collaboration so that everyone in the ecosystem plays a part to achieve a shared vision, where every person is empowered to live with dignity in a caring and inclusive society. The 4ST roadmap was launched at the first Social Service Summit in 2017. For more information, please visit



Frequently Asked Questions



Q1.      What are the key changes in the refreshed 4ST (2022-2026)?

The refreshed 4ST for 2022 to 2026 features a new fourth strategic thrust:

Addition of new fourth strategic thrust

  1. Focusing on the future and applying a systems approach
    • Greater emphasis on thinking about the medium to longer-term, and taking action to prepare for the future, supported by good data, capable and effective leaders, manpower, volunteers, and systems.
    • Building capabilities to plan beyond current needs, but also for future needs.


    Updates to existing strategic thrusts

  2. Growing person-centred and empowerment practices
    • These require long-term shifts in mindsets and behaviours, and an inclusive society is a key enabler to empowerment. While there is now greater understanding of the concept of empowerment in the sector, empowerment practices can be more widely adopted.
    • Greater attention to role of wider ecosystem in facilitating empowerment, as it is not just the responsibility of vulnerable persons and service providers.
  3. Strengthening organisational health of social purpose entities (SPEs)
    • Need for SPEs to be equipped to deal with crises, as well as meet evolving needs and thrive amidst changing times to fulfil their social missions over the long-term.
    • Emphasis on organisational capability and capacity, as well as meaningful partnerships in facilitating the work of SPEs, to benefit service users and achieve better outcomes.
  4. Greater collaboration across different parts of the ecosystem and taking a more systems-level lens to address social challenges
    • Recognising that players in the sector are connected by common objectives and social purpose; and the need for trusting relationships, enabling structures and processes to generate change across different levels.
    • Pursuing greater impact by collaborating with and supporting each other
    • Broadening mindsets to appreciate how global movements and changes in larger operating environments affect the sector.
  5. Developing a more sophisticated resourcing landscape, supported by more innovative approaches to philanthropy
  • Increasing the variety of resources in the sector and optimising their use in areas of greatest need over the short, medium and long-term.
  • Shifting from ad-hoc, short-term giving to strategic, long-term giving.
  • Bringing in non-traditional players, exploring innovative financing and impact investment instruments, and strengthening impact measurement and reporting.

Strategic Thrust 1

Empowered and included individuals, families, and communities

  • Focuses on individuals, families and communities – the target groups whose quality of life will improve as a result of actions taken across the four strategic thrusts.
  • The goal for this strategic thrust is to empower these target groups and create a society where they are included.

Strategic Thrust 2

Effective and impactful social purpose entities

  • Focuses on strengthening social purpose entities (SPEs) as channels to empower the individuals, families and communities referred to in Thrust 1 – helping them to gain relevant skills, perspectives, and resources for economic and social inclusion.
  • Recognises that SPEs can shape the ecosystems they are involved in through their actions.
  • The goal for this strategic thrust is to build effective and impactful SPEs by strengthening their organisational capability and capacity, so that in turn, they can generate more social impact.

Strategic Thrust 3

Caring, collaborative and impactful social service ecosystem

  • Highlights the role of the social service ecosystem in driving and supporting Strategic Thrusts 1 and 2, and the need to work together to deliver impactful and holistic support to individuals, families and communities effectively and efficiently.
  • The goals for this strategic thrust are to generate greater social impact through strategic and longer-term partnerships, and to find more diverse and sustainable ways of fulfilling the sector’s mission, underscored by taking a systems approach.

Strategic Thrust 4

Future-directed social service sector

  • Focuses on not just meeting the needs of today, but also taking action to remain relevant for the future. This includes being adaptable, developing new capabilities through learning and innovation, and implementing strategies with the medium- and longer-term in mind.
  • The intention is for the efforts under this strategic thrust to help the other thrusts move forward so that ultimately, we can achieve our 4ST vision.


Q2.      What are Social Purpose Entities (SPEs) and how do they differ from Social Service Agencies (SSAs)? 

SPEs are organisations with a social purpose at the core of what they do, where addressing social issues and needs are their major activities.

SPEs include the following:

  • SSAs which typically deliver social services to enable and empower individuals, their families, and communities in need; and
  • Organisations such as social enterprises, ground-up movements, and private organisations, who may not directly deliver services but seek to fulfil social purposes.

In the 4ST (2022-2026), the definition of SPEs has been broadened to capture the growing diversity of players in the landscape besides those that deliver services, and to recognise the variety of roles that different entities play in addressing the increasingly complex social issues and needs in the sector.

Q3.      What are the resources available to implement efforts under the refreshed strategic thrusts?

A variety of resources is available for different stakeholders to achieve the desired outcomes under the 4ST. These resources include frameworks, guides and toolkits, training schemes and grants, and are outlined in the 4ST Playbook.

In particular, the Community Capability Trust is a fund to support the sector’s capability and capacity-building needs, with a focus on 6 areas: (i) innovation & productivity, (ii) people practice, (iii) volunteer management, (iv) board leadership, (v) financial sustainability, and (vi) evaluation & research. Details can be found:

The 4ST Playbook can be found at It contains concrete steps for different stakeholders to lead the refreshed 4ST forward, as well as examples and new ideas that the sector can explore together. It will be updated over time as efforts materialise and new ideas emerge.

Q4.      Was the sector consulted in the development of the 4ST (2022-2026)?

The 4ST roadmap development process was led by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and overseen by a 20-member Steering Committee comprising representatives from across Singapore’s social service sector. The process incorporated views from more than 250 key opinion leaders and sector stakeholders consulted, recommendations from the Beyond COVID-19 Taskforce, a SG Together Alliance for Action (AfA), and considered trends such as accelerated digital transformation in service delivery, an evolving sector workforce, and new forms of giving.

Q5.      Who are the members in the 4ST (2022 – 2026) Steering Committee?

The Steering Committee comprised a total of 20 members from the public, private and people sectors:



Ms Anita Fam


President, National Council of Social Service (NCSS)

Mr Alfie Othman

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE)

Mr Andrew Buay

Vice President, Group Sustainability, Optus; & Singtel

Ms Chan Chia Lin

Vice President, NCSS; & Director, Lam Soon Cannery Pte Ltd

Ms Chew Seow Chien

Partner, Bain & Company

Mr Chew Sutat

Chairman, Caregivers Alliance Limited; Vice-Chairman, Community Chest

Mr Esa Masood

Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Social and Family Development

Dr Gerard Ee

Chairman, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC)

Ms Tamsin Greulich-Smith

Director, School of X at DesignSingapore Council

Ms Ku Geok Boon

CEO, SG Enable

Dr Lee Tung Jean

Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (Culture and Sports)

Mr Lee Poh Wah

CEO, Lien Foundation

Mr Philip Ong

Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (Community and Youth)

Mr S Devendran

CEO, Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore)

Mr Seah Chin Siong

Chairman, National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC); President & CEO, Singapore Institute of Management

Mr Eugene Seow

Board Member, NCSS; & Partner, E3TWENTY

Mr Martin Tan

Board Member, NCSS; & CEO, The Majurity Trust Ltd

Ms Felicia Wee

Deputy Executive Director, Metta Welfare Association

Ms Woon Saet Nyoon

CEO, Temasek Foundation Cares

Mdm Zuraidah Binte Abdullah




4ST Partnership Fund

Q1.      What is the objective of the 4ST Partnership Fund and what will the Fund support?

The 4ST Partnership Fund is established to enable the social service sector to implement the 4ST strategies and achieve 4ST outcomes. The Fund will support agencies to come up with innovative and collaborative solutions so that the needs of our service users in NCSS' service priority areas, namely, at-risk families, caregivers and persons with mental health conditions, and other emerging needs, can be met holistically and in a timely manner.

The 4ST emphasises collective solutioning within and across sectors as social issues are becoming more complex. The Fund will support collaboration and integrated service delivery that achieve collective impact for service users.

NCSS also invites grant makers and donors to pool our resources together in the 4ST Partnership Fund, so that together, we can optimise our resources for agencies to create greater impact for the vulnerable groups.

Q2.      How is the 4ST Partnership Fund different from other existing funds in the sector? 

The 4ST Partnership Fund will sharpen the focus on collective processes, shared outcomes and measurements, and the collaborative leadership that enable within and across sector partnerships. Funding parameters and criteria will be designed to emphasize these enablers for collaboration, as they are important in addressing complex and systemic issues faced by vulnerable groups. 

Q3. How and when can I apply for the Fund?

NCSS will share more details later this year.

Translations of Key Terms





Social Service Sector Strategic Thrusts (4ST)



Teras Strategik Sektor Perkhidmatan Sosial (4ST)


சமூக சேவைத் துறைக்கான உத்திபூர்வத் திட்டங்கள்

Community Capability Trust



Dana Amanah Keupayaan Masyarakat


சமூகஆற்றல் அறக்கட்டளைநிதி