What does doing good look like to you? Perhaps it feels like an intimidating task rather than something enjoyable?
The founders of new social enterprise dogood.sg believe that many people have a desire to do good. However, there’s always a “but” that stops them.
Eager to break down this barrier, husband and wife Elvin and Esther Foong set out to think of how they could encourage others to follow through on the promptings of their heart to give.
The couple wanted to find a way to make doing good more accessible, so that anyone and everyone can do good.
That led to dogood.sg, an e-commerce platform where you can shop and do good at the same time.
DOING GOOD FAITHFULLY
Better known for being the founders of The Treasure Box (TTB), Elvin and Esther explained that it was through their own experience of supporting local VWOs as well as working with churches who have community outreach programmes that really opened their eyes to the needs in our backyard.
So, while TTB, which was started in 2018, remains focused on helping Christian families grow in faith, dogood.sg is committed to giving back to the community in tangible ways, regardless of race, language or religion.
“In a sense, both play complementary roles. As Christians grow in their love for God, so will their heart for the last and the least increase in measure too,” Esther pointed out, referring to James 1:27.
Recounting how they were inspired to help lesser-known beneficiaries after attending a church’s anniversary dinner, Elvin shared: “During the event, the church had presented cheques for funds they raised to a number of beneficiaries. We were especially moved by the story of how ARC, a daycare centre for children with terminal cancer, was started.
“Besides touching our hearts, it also got us thinking about the many unknown charities out there doing very specific work with very niche and easily overlooked groups of people, and how they may not get the sort of publicity and funding that big charities get regularly.”
In 2019, after praying to ask God for direction, the name “dogood.sg” was dropped in their hearts.
Surprised that the domain hadn’t been bought yet, they registered it immediately in a step of faith and set out on a journey to make it a reality.
“We knew that much like TTB, dogood.sg would be something that must make sense in the local context,” explained Elvin.
“It had to be an initiative where Singaporeans are made aware of the last and the least among us – not just in some far-off third-world country.”
DOING GOOD LOCALLY
As such, Esther and Elvin have made it a point to intentionally partner local beneficiaries who have practical needs that aren’t being met.
For example, for The Last Resort, funds raised will go towards paying for the short-term lodging of young persons in crisis or providing pocket money for their school-going students.
For another beneficiary Blessings in a Bag, funds will go to their Give the Gift of Safe Space campaign, which focuses on giving children and youth from Singapore’s most-vulnerable neighbourhoods a safe space to grow and flourish.
“We hope to find more niche beneficiaries, so that we are able to support them where they need it the most,” said Esther.
She added that a more robust website is still in the works, which will eventually give consumers the choice of which beneficiary they want to support.
Observing that there will always be a tension between what we give, what it costs and what we get, the couple hopes that dogood.sg will address all of these concerns well as a place where visitors can buy good quality products and do good at the same time.
“But buying a product from dogood.sg shouldn’t be the end point of doing good,” cautioned Elvin.
“Hopefully, dogood.sg will also educate our customers about these beneficiaries and how they can support them beyond simply making a purchase.”
How does dogood.sg work?
Basically, vendors offer a curated selection of products on the site and commit at least 20% of what they earn from a sale towards beneficiaries.
Current offerings include in-house products such a leather laptop case that can also be used as a laptop stand, as well as products from brands like The Verdant Lab such as a hand and body wash, shampoo, conditioner.
“We were excited when The Verdant Lab shared the same desire to do good – it was started with a heart to make good hygiene products and hygiene education more accessible to the nations,” shared Elvin.
The couple hopes that more vendors who have the same heart to give back through their business will also come on board.
“We will work with vendors to periodically rotate the offerings if they would like. We are also most happy if we get to co-create exclusive products or explore other forms of collaboration,” he continued.
“We are open to all vendors who share the same heart in wanting to do good. They will have to similarly pledge at least 20% of the sale price and agree to not undercut their prices on their own platforms for the products they have pledged.”
Based on what they know, no other e-commerce platform in Singapore is currently pledging such a high proportion of proceeds. But the Foongs have decided to radically pioneer this in hopes that many more will follow suit.
DOING GOOD FEARLESSLY
The couple’s journey in starting dogood.sg is itself a testimony of how God provides a way for us to give and do good.
Elvin revealed how the couple lacked the capacity to develop the site due to their growing ministry with TTB, on top of their own commitments to their family.
He said: “We prayed that the Lord would send us someone with the same heart and mind, who would be willing to dream together with us and begin the work of ploughing the ground. And He did exactly that.”
Venron (main photo, far right) joined the team in January 2020 as a co-founder after talking to Elvin and hearing about their vision for dogood.sg. It was a timely conversation as Venron had just left his previous job.
After praying and sitting on Elvin’s offer for a month, Venron felt the peace and conviction to come on board. Since then, he has been working tirelessly to get the site up without even receiving a salary (yet)!
Elvin shared how their first investor, Irwin, was also a story of God’s miraculous provision. He had visited their office after randomly finding out about TTB that same morning and had passed them his business card.
It turned out that he was the founder of The Seed Initiative, which provides seed funding and mentorship for projects with a positive social impact.
After Venron came on board, the couple visited Irwin to pitch dogood.sg.
Elvin said: “To cut a long story short, Irwin decided on the spot to fund half of our start-up cost – a sizeable amount. This was even before we had a website or a company!
“Looking back, it’s incredible to see how God brought exactly the people that we needed into our lives for dogood.sg to work. He answers prayers even before we pray them!”
And yet their trust in God’s provision was tested shortly after the circuit breaker was imposed.
With their main source of income coming from speaking engagements, their finances took a hit when almost all of their appointments were cancelled during the lockdown.
Yet through it all, the Foongs saw God’s divine provision for their family.
Looking back at how God has provided for them, Esther is more convinced than ever of one truth.
She shared: “When we have a desire to give, we can trust God to provide the means for us to execute it. “
“God has a limitless supply of everything…”
As the couple recalls what they’ve been through, they realise how awesome it is to see that as they choose to step out and pursue their God-given dreams, He’s the One who supplies everything needed for it to come to pass.
Similarly, in our own journeys of doing good, we can have the assurance in knowing that God will continue to provide as we choose to obey Him.
For those of us who are still sceptical to do good, Elvin has a word of encouragement: “The secret ingredient to doing good is remembering that God has a limitless supply of everything…
“Our access to God means we can be secure in what we have. What we give is actually not ours in the first place – it all belongs to God, and we’re just stewards of that.”
Interested to find out more? Check out dogood.sg or stay updated on the latest news by following their pages on Instagram and Facebook. dogood.sg is also on the lookout for volunteers to help in various areas! If the idea of e-commerce for a good cause resonates with you, drop them an email at [email protected]
Wanna pick up any gifts in person? dogood.sg and The Treasure Box will also be having a Christmas bazaar on December 18 and 19 (Friday and Saturday) from 10am-6pm alongside other brands. More details can be found here.
All photos courtesy of dogood.sg.
- What are some promptings that God has placed in your heart?
- Do you find it difficult to obey them? If yes, why?
- How can we build our faith in God’s provision? And how can we encourage each other as a church community to have faith in God’s provision?