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When A Voice Becomes A Movement

Published: 21 July 2022, Thursday

Project 2166 fundraising campaign on giving.sg


Nicholas Teo is a twenty-something actor and filmmaker, known for his appearances on the Wah! Banana! YouTube channel.


With the information that the average household per capita of a low-income family is about $650 per month, Nicholas tried to live on $21.66 daily for a week. For the less-privileged, this amount usually needs to cover basic necessities like rent, utilities, mobile phone, food, transport and medical, before any other miscellaneous expenses.


Through this experiment, he wanted to better understand his relationship with money. Having never tracked his expenses before, this proved to be difficult, adjusting from his usual lifestyle, which might look very similar to most Singaporeans around his age. Nevertheless, he diligently kept within budget 5 out of 7 days, bursting it twice because he had to attend a wedding and on another day when he needed to take a private hire car for work.


He was motivated to use his platform to raise awareness and funds for Food from the Heart (FFTH), to help to feed the needy in Singapore. He created the fundraising campaign Project 2166, which raised an impressive $2,353 within 10 days!


We caught up with Nicholas post-campaign.


FFTH: What attracted you to help Food from the Heart?

Nicholas: Honestly I just googled food charities, and found you guys! I chose to raise funds for Food from the Heart because of the multiple channels and campaigns you have that combats both food waste as well as providing food for under-privileged families. 


FFTH: What sparked the idea for Project 2166?

Nicholas: For my recent video project, I tried to raise money from working part time job as a waiter. During those 6 hours of "working for fun" (roleplaying), I was just an invisible service staff making $12 an hour. It didn't really mean much to me but for my colleagues, it was their actual job and wage. That was when it hit me that I felt have a lot of privilege now.


While “working” as a waiter, I was also very flippant with my spending, which led me to reassess my relationship with money and force myself to spend less than $21.66 everyday! Sharing this on social media, it sparked a lot of interest amongst my audience, so I decided to use my platform to make a real, tangible impact.


Project 2166 fundraising campaign on giving.sgProject 2166 fundraising campaign on giving.sg


FFTH: How you feel about the response to your fundraising campaign?

Nicholas: I can't believe the response and that I raised $2,353! I set the initial campaign goal of $1,000 thinking that would be the most I could raise. I thought that most people do not have favourable impressions of “influencers” and would not support my campaign.


FFTH: Some people say that young people lack empathy. Do you think it’s true?

Nicholas: I don't think they lack empathy because they are a lot more vocal about causes. We've seen a rise in younger voices campaigning about various issues like sustainability, amongst others.


I feel that most people, myself included, seem more passive due to our inhibitions. Before, I hesitated to use my voice to raise awareness for charities, not because I did not believe in them, but it did not feel right. I didn't want to do it to make myself seem like a "good person". After my experience, I felt ready to advocate as I could speak from my heart.


For me, the most heartening donations came from those who donated $1 or $2, you know, that they really just wanted to do what they can to help!


FFTH: How would you encourage a young follower of your work, who might be struggling financially?

Nicholas: My family struggled financially when I was young. I did not have the toys I wanted (especially a remote control car), but I guess I took joy in the simplest moments, kept my head down and worked hard.


It's okay to ask for help, for example from FFTH, if you need it! In the meantime, continue to work hard to stand on your own feet. You can become someone that can help others.


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