Social Service Summit 2021 Charts Transformation for a Future-Ready Sector with Launch of Two New Initiatives

14 Jul 2021
  1. Two new initiatives were announced at the annual Social Service Summit, convened by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) today. The Industry Digital Plan for Social Services (IDPSS) and the Empowerment Guide were launched to support transformation efforts for the sector. These initiatives are developed in alignment with the Social Service Sector Strategic Thrust (4ST) five-year roadmap, and ladders up to the SSA 3.0 vision for a social service sector that constantly seeks ways to deliver services in more effective forms; is adaptive to leverage technology and innovation; invests in building up leadership, manpower and organisational capabilities; and which is able to harness the strengths of the community to deliver effective outcomes for service users.

  2. Hosted by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Health, the fifth edition of the Social Service Summit brought together over 800 social service professionals, corporates, donors, and government representatives to exchange ideas and collaborate to build a future-ready social service sector and to amplify social impact.

  3. Themed “Reimagining the Social Service Sector”, the Summit invited delegates to discuss and innovate ways to build organisational capabilities and enhance the service user experience. The Social Service Summit 2021 features a first of its kind Tech Showcase – more than 50 technologies and digital solutions were presented by start-ups and corporate consultants which Social Service Agencies (SSAs) can adopt to amplify their social impact and digitally transform securely.

  4. Minister Masagos said in his address, “Through the pandemic, we have seen two facets of life: on one side, the pain and suffering that COVID-19 has brought about, and on the other, the best of the human spirit where we banded together, and worked across organisations and sectors, with the common goal to protect one another and the most vulnerable amongst us. When the pandemic is over, and it will be, my hope is that we will emerge stronger as one social service sector, driven by resilient SSAs and empowered social service professionals, in the spirit of SSA 3.0. This will enable us to serve Singaporeans better, for the long term. Sustaining our Social Compact and creating an uplifting society for all Singaporeans.”

  5. A transformative digitalisation journey for the sector

  6. The IDPSS launched by Minister Masagos was developed by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), in consultation with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the IDPSS Advisory Panel and many other private, public and social service sector professionals. It is a digital transformation roadmap that seeks to advance the sector’s digital capabilities progressively over three years. SSAs can assess and accelerate their digitalisation depending on their needs, and leverage technology to provide services to the users. This is aligned with the 4ST key thrust to develop effective social purpose entities that deliver quality, innovative and sustainable solutions.

  7. The IDPSS is driven by three strategic directions, five focus areas and three sector-wide goals; and comprises a Technology Adoption Roadmap, a Digital Skills Roadmap and a Digital Roadmap Assessment. Please refer to Annex A for more information on the IDPSS.

  8. Minister Masagos said, “We need to ride the wave of digitalisation that COVID-19 has thrusted upon the world; a key tool that can enable transformation and engender social innovation. While we are a “high-touch” sector, just like doctors with their patients, the use of technology need not cause us to lose the personal connection in our interactions with our service users. Instead, proper use of technology can help us improve the way we work and maximise the impact for service users. For example, the use of speech-to-text technology to record case notes frees up time for practitioners to focus more on their clients. Being more high-tech can, in fact, free up valuable time for us to be even more high-touch!”

    Empowering individuals through person-centric solutions

  9. Aligned with the 4ST key thrust of empowering every person to live with dignity in a caring and inclusive society, the Empowerment Guide developed by NCSS offers practical tools and approaches to SSAs to operationalise user empowerment. It seeks to equip social service practitioners to empower their service users to participate in and influence matters that affect his or her life. This in turn creates a positive sense of well-being and improves quality of life for the individuals. The Empowerment Guide will be implemented in partnership with the Empowerment Circle, a pioneer group of SSAs in adopting empowerment practices, to unpack the concept of empowerment by hosting learning journeys featuring empowering initiatives within their organisations thus increasing relevance for the sub-sectors working with various population groups (e.g., persons with mental health conditions, seniors etc). Please refer to Annex B for more information on the Empowerment Guide.

  10. NCSS President Anita Fam, who launched the Empowerment Guide, said: “I highly encourage all social service leaders and practitioners to use the practical steps listed in the Guide to start your own empowerment journey. By doing so, you will find that service delivery will improve. The Guide is also relevant to anyone who is keen on applying the concept of empowerment to what you do in your various capacities, whether you are a funder, researcher, or advocate. The journey to empowerment is a collective dynamic effort, ever changing, so we need to walk this journey together.”

    Building capacity and capability of the sector

  11. The summit also saw the reveal of the upcoming Learning and Development Roadmap for Volunteer Management Practitioners, targeted for launch in August 2021. The roadmap will guide volunteer management practitioners (VMPs) on the skills and competencies required to effectively carry out their roles; and optimise volunteer resources in meeting the needs of the service users in our community. Through the roadmap, NCSS hopes to promote volunteerism and better harness the community’s expertise to provide support to social service agencies and service users. Please refer to Annex C for more information on the Learning and Development Roadmap for Volunteer Management Practitioners.

  12. SSAs can also look forward to an Organisation Development Guidebook in August 2021 to strengthen and sustain their organisational health. Through concrete actionable steps, SSAs can use the guidebook to understand their current strengths and areas for growth in their organisations to effectively delivery quality, innovative, and sustainable solutions to address social needs. Please refer to Annex D for more information on the Organisation Development Guidebook.

  13. The social service sector today and beyond

  14. The Social Service Summit invites partners and stakeholders to transform the way the ecosystem serve together, to create new possibilities for the sector and the community. The initiatives launched and announced at the Summit paves the way for a holistic and person-centred social service eco-system; and is aligned with the 4ST roadmap. The current roadmap is for 2017 to 2021 and work has commenced to develop the roadmap for the next five years (i.e. 2022 to 2026). The ideas discussed at the summit will form the recommendations to guide the sector in the next five years.

National Council of Social Service (NCSS) 
NCSS is the umbrella body for over 450-member social service organisations 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 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 


Annex A: Industry Digital Plan for Social Services (IDPSS)
Annex B: Empowerment Guide
Annex C: Learning & Development Roadmap for Volunteer Management Practitioners
Annex D: Organisation Development Guidebook
Annex E: Translated Terms 


Annex A: Industry Digital Plan for Social Services (IDPSS)

  1. The Industry Digital Plan for Social Services (IDPSS) will provide systematic guidance on how Social Service Agencies (SSAs) can assess and accelerate their digitalisation depending on their needs and digital readiness. The three-year IDPSS is driven by three strategic directions, guides SSAs across five focus areas; and comprises a Technology Adoption Roadmap, a Digital Skills Roadmap and a Digital Roadmap Assessment.

  2. The IDPSS is for board members and management, as well as any staff who are responsible for digitalisation in their respective agencies and functions. SSAs should take stock of the current technologies and digital skillsets in their workplace by taking the Digital Roadmap Assessment (DRA). Following which, they may take reference from the roadmaps and decide which technologies and skillsets to pick up. In addition to roadmaps, SSAs will be signposted to resources like implementation support and funding. The IDPSS can be found on NCSS’ website via

Likely Asked Questions

  1. What is the Technology Adoption Roadmap?

    The Technology Adoption Roadmap provides guidance on foundational and service delivery technology solutions based on digital readiness or service types. It includes the following:

    • Foundational Technology have been grouped under five categories:
      • Office Productivity Systems (e.g. Collaboration tools)
      • Stakeholder Engagement Systems (e.g. Donor Management)
      • Corporate Systems (e.g. Account System)
      • Data & Reporting Tools (Management and Funder reporting)
      • Cybersecurity (e.g. Firewalls)
    • Service Delivery Technology have been grouped under five Service Delivery Functions:
      • Centre-based & Institutional-based services (Healthcare & Non-healthcare)
        • Example of technology: Chatbot
      • Disability Support Services (Children, Youth, Adults & Seniors)
        • Example of technology: User caring/Volunteer matching
      • Mobile & Home-based services (Healthcare & Non-Healthcare)
        • Example of technology: Tele-consultations
      • Rehabilitation, Re-integration, and Support Services (Mental Health, Addiction & Reformed Offenders)
        • Example of technology: Tele-consultations
      • Support Services for Community & Family Integration including Caregivers
        • Example of technology: Learning management & gamification


  2. What is the Digital Skills Roadmap?

    The Digital Skills Roadmap aims to raise digital and data literacy and skills of their workforce. The digital skills roadmap is categorised as:

    • Leadership (eg. Business Analytics for Strategic and Organisational Performance
    • General (eg. Cybersecurity Awareness) Specialist (eg. Data and Analytics)


  3. What is the Digital Roadmap Assessment?

    The Digital Roadmap Assessment allows SSAs to identify gaps and opportunities to take the next step forward in their digitalisation journey. The IDPSS is a guideline for board members and management, as well as any staff who are responsible for digitalisation in their respective agencies and functions.

  4. What is the Digital Acceleration Index (DAI)?

    The DAI is a tool that assesses the digital maturity and digital management practices in the social service sector. NCSS is adopting the same framework used across 23 sectors of the Singapore economy. This helps to provide a strong fact base for the state of digital maturity, and better position NCSS to guide the sector’s digitalisation plans towards a connected social service ecosystem that leverages technology to create targeted person-centric programmes and services. More information will be available from Oct 2021.

  5. What are the three strategic directions and five focus areas for the IDPSS?

    Strategic Directions

    1. Building A Digital Foundation for efficient and resilient operations and service delivery
    2. Empowering Service Users with the delivery of User-Centric Digital Services
    3. Strengthening the Social Service Digital Ecosystem though increased ecosystem collaborations


    From the three strategic directions, the SSAs are guided to advance their digitalisation journey across the following five focus areas:

    Five Focus Areas/Goals

    1. Secure, Integrated Solutions and Infrastructure (To address Strategic Directions)

      SSAs are encouraged to implement integrated technology solutions to maximise efficient agency operations and have in place robust cybersecurity to protect data.

      Goal: 80% of SSAs adopted 3 or more foundational solutions

    2. Enhanced Service User Experience (To address Strategic Directions)

      SSAs are encouraged to adopt service delivery technology that enables person-centred and integrated services catering to service users’ expectations and needs.

      Goal: 80% of services are tech-enabled

    3. Connected Community and Partnerships (To address Strategic Directions)

      SSAs are encouraged to Engage with volunteers, donors and eco-system partners to collaborate, co-create, learn from or gather support on digital initiatives.

      Goal: 30 digital collaboration projects in people, public, private sectors

    4. Data Proficiency (Cross-cutting, addresses strategic directions)

      As SSAs start to build on the integrated technology solutions, they will manage an increasing amount of data. SSAs are encouraged to become an insight driven organisation using data and analytics to make informed decisions on future service delivery and operations planning.

      Goal: 30% of SSAs using digital data to enhance operations and service planning

    5. Digital Talent and Leadership (Cross-cutting, addresses strategic directions)

      To ensure SSA staff are equipped with the right digital skills to manage IT solutions and processes, SSAs are encouraged to enhance digital skills of social service workforce and equip leaders to drive digitalisation efforts.

      Goal: 80% of SSAs have staff capable of using technology


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Annex B: Empowerment Guide

  1. An empowered person is characterised by strength, choice, ownership and dignity and is able to participate in and influence matters that affect his or her life. Empowerment is important as it increases independence which leads to improved quality of life and promotes sustainable social change through self-responsibility which decreases reliance on external resources.

  2. The Empowerment Guide offers practical tools and approaches to break down the concept of empowerment into something more relatable that SSAs can put to use and kickstart their journey of incorporating empowerment principles within their service model. For instance, it recommends referencing the ladder of participation to help agencies gauge where they are at and set goals to work towards as well as problem identification methods to identify barriers to overcome.

  3. A select group of SSAs (i.e. Empowerment Circle) who are forerunners in practising the empowerment approach, will build on the work of the Guide to further unpack the concepts to a subsector level.

Likely Asked Questions

  1. How do you know if the empowerment guide has achieved its objectives?

    Empowerment is unevenly practised in the sector, with some SSAs ahead of the journey. NCSS hopes to normalise the practice of empowerment and thus developed the Guide to increase the adoption of empowering service delivery approaches. Learning journeys will be cocurated with a select group of SSAs to complement efforts from the Guide to increase knowledge and skills, to pave way for other sector partners to be on board the journey.

  2. What are the forward plans for this initiative?

    The next step for the Guide is to increase its usefulness and application by working with practitioners to contextualise further by subsectors. However, NCSS recognises that the Guide is purely a tool and would have to work with the sector closely to strengthen empowerment principles within service models.

  3. Who is the target audience for the Empowerment Guide?

    The primary target audience is social service leaders and practitioners. Other stakeholders in the ecosystem (e.g. funders, researchers, advocates) are also encouraged to read to increase awareness as they can play a part to increase empowerment in their different capacities.


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Annex C: Learning & Development Roadmap for Volunteer Management Practitioners

  1. Volunteer management plays a pivotal role in augmenting the manpower of the Social Service Agencies (SSAs) to strengthen social service delivery and catalyse the transformation plans of an organisation by leveraging on volunteers and their time and talent. Hence, it is important for Volunteer Management Practitioners (VMPs) to be equipped with the relevant skillsets, training and resources to achieve excellence at work and be more effective in enabling volunteerism.

  2. The Learning and Development Roadmap for Volunteer Management Practitioners aims to uplift the capabilities of volunteer management practitioners (VMPs) in the sector by providing guidance on the skills and competencies required to perform effectively and in doing so, optimise volunteer resources so as to better support our service users.

  3. The Roadmap also sets out clear skills development pathways and is useful for the longer-term growth and development of VMPs within the sector.

Likely Asked Questions

  1. What is the target audience of the Roadmap?

    The primary audience for the Roadmap is VMPs to pave the way towards professionalisation of their roles. The secondary audience are management and HR personnel of SSAs who could use the Roadmap as a guide to develop VMPs, as well as to recruit suitable candidates for volunteer management roles in their agencies.

  2. Where will the Roadmap be published on?

    The Roadmap will be presented in a publication and available for download from the NCSS website.

  3. When will the Roadmap be published?

    The Roadmap will be published during the Volunteer Management Network in August 2021.


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Annex D

Organisation Development (OD) Guidebook

  1. Organisation Development (OD) involves critical and objective based processes that organisations undergo to improve their capacity and attain greater effectiveness, with a lens of being future-ready. This is done through the review, development, and improvement of organisational strategy, structures, and processes. OD is key to enabling Social Service Agencies (SSAs) to eventually deliver quality, innovative and sustainable solutions to service users.

  2. NCSS views OD in the sector in the form of a systemic framework of 8 domains of Governance, Leadership, User-Centric Services, Strategy, People, Process & Digitalisation, Communications & Partnerships and Finances.

  3. NCSS has designed an Organisation Development (OD) Guidebook, which provides SSAs with an introduction and understanding of OD concepts, NCSS’ OD Framework for the social service sector in the form of a Self-Assessment Toolkit to enable SSAs to better understand their strengths and areas for growth and current best practices in the sector. It also provides concrete actionable steps for SSAs strengthen and sustain their organisational health, so that they remain effective in delivery quality, innovative, and sustainable solutions to address social needs.

Likely Asked Questions

  1. How can SSAs access/use the OD Guidebook?

    The OD Guidebook will be available to all SSAs in the electronic form, on the NCSS website from August 2021.

  2. How can SSAs find out more about the OD Guidebook and/or provide any feedback on the OD Guidebook?

    To find out more about the OD Guidebook, or provide feedback on it, SSAs can drop NCSS an email to

  3. Is the OD Framework in the OD Guidebook the same Framework used in the OD Journey?

    It is a refinement of the OD Framework used in the OD Journey. The OD Journey, launched in 2019, aims to improve organisational health of social purpose entities to be effective in delivering quality, innovative, and sustainable solutions. It consists of 2 programmes:

    1. the Tote Board Non-Profit Sector Transformation Initiatives: Organisation Development (TB-NTI:OD) which provides up to $900,000 funding per NPO for 10 NPOs over 3 years;
    2. the NCSS Organisation Development Transformation (ODT) which provide up to $200,000 funding per SSA for 19 SSAs over 2 years.


    Both programmes follow a 3-phase programme structure of a diagnostic, implementation of transformation interventions and a post-transformation assessment.

    The OD Framework in the OD Guidebook was developed based on learnings from the use of the OD Journey Diagnostic on the 29 organisations. It is a refinement of the OD Journey Diagnostic and the MSF Organisation Health Review.

  4. Do we need consultants to use the OD Framework?

    The OD Framework can be both self-administered (through the Self-Assessment Toolkit in the Guidebook) and used in consultant-led projects.

  5. What are the objectives/aims of the OD Guidebook?

    The OD Guidebook aims to:

    • Improve awareness and understanding of OD in the sector
    • Introduce a common language and framework for OD in the sector
    • Provide a Self-Assessment toolkit for SSAs to understand their strengths and areas of development
    • Provide SSAs an easy-to-access, concrete, and consolidated resource for use in their unique contexts and environments


Community Capability Trust (CCT)

  1. The Community Capability Trust (CCT) is a Trust Fund that is dedicated to driving capability- and capacity-building efforts within the social service sector. Today, Singapore has strong social safety nets because of the network of SSAs that partner with us to effectively serve the community. As social needs become ever more complex, amidst demographic changes and resource constraints, we will need strong partners that can expand and strengthen delivery of services to serve our communities well. Thus, the CCT aims to help SSAs strengthen their capabilities and capacities, so that they can better meet the needs of social service users.

  2. One unique feature about the CCT is that it will comprise funding from Government and community. Funding from donors today tend to focus more on direct programmes and services, over capability- and capacity-building efforts. Through the CCT, MSF and NCSS will thus work towards raising awareness on the importance of a strong social service sector and encourage donors to also support SSAs in their capability- and capacity-building efforts, in addition to supporting their social service programmes.

  3. The CCT will comprise up to $480m over 10 years, with up to $350m contributed by the Government and Tote Board. In addition to an upfront capital provided by the Government, Tote Board, and NCSS’s Community Chest, the Community Chest will also actively fundraise for the CCT. To catalyse donations to the CCT, the Government and Tote Board will provide dollar-for-dollar matching for funds raised by Community Chest. The Government will match up to a cap of $100m over 10 years, and Tote Board up to a cap of $50m over the first 5 years.

Likely Asked Questions

  1. Why is CCT a Trust Fund? How does NCSS ensure proper governance of the funds?

    As a charitable trust, the CCT is subject to regulations and guidelines under the Charities Act. This ensures that CCT funds are properly governed and accounted for, i.e. that funds are drawn down to support the capability and capacity needs of the sector.

  2. How does MSF/NCSS ensure that the CCT is responsive to the sector and SSAs’ needs?

    From FY22, the CCT will be the main vehicle of funds to drive capability- and capacity-building in the sector, which enables NCSS and MSF to take a longer-term approach in planning and strategising capability-building initiatives, in alignment with overall sector development directions. With the CCT, MSF and NCSS will be able to work with the sector to scale the availability of capability- and capacity-building initiatives by building on existing efforts.

  3. Why not match social service agencies’ fundraising efforts instead?

    Capability- and capacity-building efforts are key to ensuring that social service agencies are able to meet the needs of service users. In a resource-constrained environment, coupled with growing needs, these become even more critical. Currently, donors tend to favour other causes over capability- and capacity-building needs in the social service sector. Through the CCT, we aim to raise awareness on the importance of supporting SSAs’ organisational development efforts. Community Chest will partner with donors and the community to drive fundraising efforts for the CCT.

  4. Are there existing funds that support capability building? What will happen to them with the introduction of the CCT?

    Social service agencies, registered charities and exempt charities can currently apply for funding from the VWOs-Charities Capability Fund (VCF) to support their organisational development, governance and productivity projects, up till end-FY2021. Agencies that had participated in the SG50 Care & Share movement are also currently able to use their Care & Share matched funds to support their capability- and capacity-building initiatives till end-FY2021. Future plans for the VCF will be announced at a later date, as part of MSF’s and MCCY’s ongoing review to ensure that funding schemes for agencies’ capability-building efforts are streamlined, comprehensive, and sustainable.

  5. What does the CCT support?

    The CCT will provide funding support to social service agencies to strengthen their organisational capabilities in areas including productivity, people practices and research, to support their capability and capacity to meet growing service and client needs. The CCT does not support programmes and direct services. Agencies that wish to seek funding support for new or existing programmes can tap on existing funds like the Tote Board Social Service Fund.

Social Service Sector Strategic Thrusts (4ST)

  1. The 4ST is a roadmap for the social service sector co-developed by NCSS with stakeholders in the social service eco-system. It is guided by a person-centred and holistic approach towards advancing the Quality of Life for individuals. The current roadmap is for 2017 to 2021 and work has commenced to develop the roadmap for the next five years (i.e. 2022 to 2026).

  2. In the last 5 years, the 4ST has expanded the sector’s perspective of the ecosystem beyond “traditional” partners such as social service agencies, to an interplay of people, public and private sectors working in tandem to address social needs. It drew attention to key sector issues and prompted actions by various stakeholders.

  3. NCSS wants to leverage the Social Service Summit 2021 to engage the sector and deep dive into specific issues so as to generate ideas that will eventually form the recommendations to guide the sector in the next five years.

Likely Asked Questions

  1. What are the goals of the 4ST?

    The 4ST seeks to build a shared vision based on the prevailing challenges and opportunities identified in the social service sector, with ideas for how different stakeholders can play a part.

  2. Who is the 4ST for?

    All stakeholders involved in meeting the needs of vulnerable groups, whether directly or indirectly – e.g. service providers, funders, enablers, champions. The 4ST calls for active participation and collaboration so that everyone in the ecosystem plays a part to achieve the shared vision.

  3. How can the 4ST help SSAs and the sector?

    Three key challenges were identified in the development of the current 4ST roadmap:

    1. Changing needs
    2. Sustaining the social service eco-system
    3. Developing highly capable and purposeful social service organisations


    The 4ST roadmap is thus structured into three key thrusts to guide the sector in addressing these challenges:

    1. Empowered individuals, their families and communities
    2. Effective social purpose entities that deliver quality, innovative and sustainable solutions
    3. Caring, collaborative and impactful social service ecosystem


    Each key thrust is broken down into strategic directions, outcomes, and initiatives to guide the actions of all stakeholders.

  4. What actions by the various stakeholders were prompted by the 4ST?

    The 4ST drew attention to key sector issues and the various stakeholders responded in the following ways:

    1. Being person-centred in service delivery, taking a holistic view of individuals and their needs, and the importance of empowering vulnerable groups
    2. Recognising the need to build the capacity and capability of the sector, not just through enhancing skills, but also through improving productivity and leveraging on technology
    3. Putting in more efforts to bring resources into the sector, and in more innovative ways
    4. Having greater interest in collaboration


  5. How will the Summit play a role in shaping the 4ST?

    FY21 will be used to engage the sector to develop the next 4ST roadmap and implementation plans. The Summit is one of the crucial platforms to engage the sector on discussions about the next lap of 4ST as it brings together stakeholders such as SSAs, social enterprises, public agencies, and corporates to discuss sector wide issues.  The theme of this year’s Summit is “Reimagining the future” and the breakout discussion segment will seek participants’ views and inputs in shaping the next 4ST.

  6. When will the next 4ST roadmap be launched?

    In 2022. Reference Link: Publication for current 4ST (2017-2021)

  7. What is the process undertaken to develop the next 4ST?

    The overall process to develop the next 4ST will be through co-design, where a mix of stakeholders will be involved throughout in identifying key issues, developing ideas and recommendations. In the first phase, under the guidance of the Steering Committee, efforts undertaken under the first 4ST roadmap, as well as developments and trends that are likely to affect the social service sector in the next few years were studied. These were used to kickstart engagements with sector stakeholders to seek their views on important issues to address in the landscape, which will form the key themes for the next 4ST roadmap.

    The second phase will seek to achieve convergence by deep diving into certain areas and issues based on the findings form the first phase, as well as to generate ideas for implementation, which will eventually translate into the new key thrusts and recommendations.

    This will be followed by the third phase to plan how the next 4ST roadmap will be implemented, which includes conceptualizing specific initiatives and identifying partners for implementation, before the next 4ST roadmap is officially launched.

  8. What is likely to be different from the current 4ST roadmap and the next one?

    The first 4ST is a shared vision created by the sector, for the sector. The next 4ST will take stock of the current landscape as the sector has matured in some areas, while new trends and challenges have also emerged, including shifts brought about by COVID-19. The next 4ST will continue to focus on being person-centred, while introducing a systems thinking approach to broaden the sector’s mindset on who could be involved in addressing social issues (beyond traditional players). In addition, it will seek to expand upon the collective impact approach espoused in the first 4ST by introducing sector-wide implementation plans with clearer calls to action, so that each part of the ecosystem has a better understanding of the roles they play in achieving the sector’s vision. In implementation, more attention is likely to be given towards inspiring other players in the eco-system to be part of leading future efforts for greater ownership across the sector.

  9. Who are the members of the Steering Committee for the development of the next 4ST?

    A Steering Committee has been formed to advise on the development of the next 4ST. It comprises 19 representatives from across the sector, led by Ms Anita Fam, President/NCSS.

List of 4ST (2022-2026) Steering Committee members

S/N Name Current appointments (amongst others) (info as at 1 Apr 2021)
1 Ms Anita Fam (Chair) President, NCSS
2 Ms Chan Chia Lin Vice President, NCSS & Director, Lam Soon Cannery Pte Ltd
3 Mr Martin Tan Board Member, NCSS & CEO, The Majurity Trust Ltd
4 Mr Eugene Seow Board Member, NCSS & Partner, E3TWENTY
5 Dr Lee Tung Jean Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Social and Family Development
6 Mr Philip Ong Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
7 Ms Tamsin Greulich-Smith Director, School of X at DesignSingapore Council
8 Ms Chew Seow Chien Partner, Bain & Co.
9 Mr Andrew Buay Vice President, Group Sustainability, Optus & Singtel
10 Dr Gerard Ee Chairman, Agency for Integrated Care
11 Mr Seah Chin Siong Chairman, National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre & President & CEO, Singapore Institute of Management
12 Mr Lee Poh Wah CEO, Lien Foundation
13 Ms Woon Saet Nyoon CEO, Temasek Foundation Cares
14 Mr Alfie Othman CEO, raiSE
15 Ms Ku Geok Boon CEO, SG Enable
16 Mdm Zuraidah Binte Abdullah CEO, Yayasan MENDAKI
17 Ms Felicia Wee Deputy Executive Director, Metta Welfare Association
18 Mr S Devendran CEO, Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore)
19 Mr Chew Sutat Chairman, Caregivers Alliance Limited & Chairman, SGX Corporate Social Responsibility


Transformation Support Scheme

  1. The Transformation Support Scheme (TSS) was launched on 4 January 2021, with the aim to drive transformation in the sector. It does this by providing manpower support for SSAs to strengthen organisational health and resilience of SSAs, while also increasing job opportunities amid COVID-19. The TSS is designed with an intent to attract talent from outside the sector.

  2. The TSS provides 1-2 years’ worth of subsidies for the gross monthly wage of new hires recruited by SSAs for project work in the areas of organisational transformation.

Likely Asked Questions

  1. Will there be further runs of the Transformation Support Scheme (TSS)?

    Applications for TSS closed after 9 application windows between January and May 2021. NCSS will monitor the situation, and the sector will be kept apprised in the event of further application windows.

  2. Why doesn’t the Transformation Support Scheme (TSS) cover manpower for programmes/services/admin work?

    The TSS intends to accelerate sector transformation. The scheme provides manpower support for work scope that clearly sets up or strengthens processes and structures in areas such as Strategy, Human Resource & Finance, Fund-raising, Communications & Stakeholder Engagement, Volunteer Management etc. Work related to programmes and services, and Business-As-Usual work, does not fulfil that purpose of the TSS.

Raising Research and Evaluation Capabilities (Sector Evaluation Framework)

  1. The Sector Evaluation Framework aims to provide a common language to consider progress and impact across NCSS-funded programmes, while allowing for flexibility at the programme level. The Framework is one which all stakeholders – from Government, to Social Service Agencies (SSAs), to donors – can use as a consistent set of measures for evaluation.

  2. We are currently developing the Framework in consultation with various stakeholders including SSAs, to ensure that the framework serves their needs and adds value to what they do. SSAs’ views on how to align the data collection process with the Framework will also be considered.

  3. The Framework has two tiers. The first tier is at the programme level, where SSAs will choose reliable and valid outcome indicators relevant to their programmes. The second tier consists of sector-level outcomes in relation to service users’ quality of life.

Likely Asked Questions

  1. Which NCSS members will be consulted on the Sector Evaluation Framework? Will the Framework be compulsory to adopt?

    Programmes that are administered by NCSS will gradually come under this Framework. NCSS will engage Members with programmes due for renewal in 2022, so that Members understand how the Framework can be applied to the programme in question. This will include discussing on the outcome indicators from the Framework that would be most relevant.

    For other programmes, NCSS encourage SSAs to explore applying the Framework in programme evaluation, so that the sector as a whole can benefit from a common evaluation language and consistency in how we measure outcomes. This in turn facilitates better sharing of information and best practices that can improve all our programmes and the lives of service users.

    NCSS will hold a sharing session on the Framework with SSAs to take in feedback and views. More details will be made available at a later date.

  2. Will there be any attempt to align this framework with the measurement frameworks of other funds such as the Tote Board Social Service Fund (TBSSF)?

    The value of the Sector Evaluation Framework lies in the consistency that it can bring to how we talk about evaluation in the social service sector. While the Framework will initially be applied to NCSS-funded programmes, we have taken steps to ensure that there is alignment with the TBSSF’s framework, which is also being reviewed at this point. We have also reached out to the agencies managing relevant funds, such as the Tote Board Community Health Fund and Tote Board Enabling Lives Initiative, to discuss how there can be alignment at some level.

  3. How does the Framework play a role in NCSS’ vision?

    Evaluation is an essential part of service delivery. Proper evaluation helps ensure programmes are effective and resources are allocated appropriately. For our SSAs, it leads to better service quality and outcomes for their service users.

    Currently, we observe some issues with evaluation in the sector, including a lack of resources and expertise, and varying measurements and standards.

    NCSS envisages a coherent, sustainable, and SSA-responsive evaluation research ecosystem, and has embarked on this important work of advancing evaluation in the sector since July 2020. We have been developing plans to tackle common barriers, provide support and resources, and share best practices.

    The Sector Evaluation Framework is part of this larger effort. This will be a framework in which all stakeholders – from Government, to SSAs, to donors – can use a consistent set of measures for evaluation.

  4. What are the two tiers of the Framework?

    The first tier is at the programme level, where we will provide SSAs with a list of reliable and valid outcome and output indicators, from which you can choose those most relevant to your programmes. We are often asked to suggest reliable and valid measurement tools, so we believe many of you will find this useful.

    The second tier will consist of sector-level outcomes in relation to service users’ quality of life. Using the “quality of life” perspective enables the sector to take a holistic, person-centred approach to evaluation. It also allows SSAs to benefit from a broader sector view, and move beyond just the outcomes of their individual programmes.

  5. What are the other aspects of NCSS’ plans to strengthen the research and evaluation capabilities of the sector?

    The Sector Evaluation Framework is but one aspect of NCSS’ plans to strengthen the research and evaluation capabilities of the sector. Another important aspect is ensuring that our members are adequately equipped to conduct research and evaluation. To this end, we have developed suite of resources specially for our members.

    Earlier this year, we started providing free access to quality research content in scholarly journals. We recognise that both research and frontline staff will benefit from having ready access to evidence and knowledge. We highly encourage all our members to make full use of this service.

    We will soon also be rolling out a matching service to connect SSAs to volunteer researchers. We recognise that professional research services can be costly and that SSAs often only require some advice or guidance in their research projects.

Social Innovation Starter Kit

  1. The Social Innovation Starter Kit is a toolkit that supports the human-centred design thinking practice to create innovative solutions to challenges faced within the social service sector. It includes design thinking guiding principles, along with innovation tips, tools and frameworks, contextualised to our social service sector.

  2. It aims to inspire the wider social service sector to recognise the value of innovation in tackling complex social challenges and to embark on their own innovative journeys.

  3. It is useful for social service professionals and stakeholders in the ecosystem who are interested in applying the human-centred design thinking approach to empower service users and to dive deeper into understanding their needs and to co-create solutions.

Likely Asked Questions

  1. Where is the Social Innovation Starter Kit published on?

    Click here for the Social Innovation Starter Kit, which is published on the NCSS website.

  2. Who can I speak to if my organisation is interested to embark on our innovation journey but are not sure how to do so?

    NCSS would be happy to partner with you on your innovation journey. Please get in touch with Pumpkin Lab or drop us an email at

  3. Are there any upcoming programmes available for social service agencies who might want to learn more about design thinking and/or embark on a design thinking project?

    NCSS has just concluded the Sector Design Challenge 2021 in June where over 70 participants were guided through the Design Thinking process through a series of workshops over the course of 2.5 months.

    NCSS will also be collaborating with MOHT to co-organise and launch Design4Impact, a health-social design challenge sometime in Q4 2021. More details will be shared soon.

    Read more about Sector Design Challenge and Design4Impact.