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Should charities be run as businesses? Food from the Heart chairman Ronald Stride says yes

Food from the Heart chairman shares how running charities like businesses helps more of the underprivileged.

In 2011, when Christine Laimer, co-founder of Food from the Heart (FFTH), asked Ronald Stride to take over the non-profit, the 78-year-old rose to the challenge. “The charity’s concept of being a food distribution channel for the needy interested me as few believed there were poor, hungry people in Singapore. I wanted to help raise awareness of this situation,” says Stride, the organisation’s chairman of seven years.

In 2016, over 791,000 tonnes of food waste was generated in Singapore – with only 14 per cent recycled. Turning unused food into opportunities to feed the underprivileged, FFTH runs food distribution programmes issuing items from bread to non-perishable food products.

“When Christine passed the baton over to me, FFTH was run like a small organisation. She had played the role of chief administrator, fund-raiser and awareness-builder. But I knew that if we wanted to grow the charity, we had to professionalise it,” says Stride. A former managing partner for Asia at management consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, he built a development and communications team while creating finance and fund-raising committees at the board level.


“TO GROW A CHARITY, MY PHILOSOPHY IS THAT YOU HAVE TO RUN IT AS A BUSINESS.”


Under his charge, the charity distributed $5.5 million worth of food last year, up from $3.1 million in 2012. To date, the organisation benefits over 35,500 people via six programmes, the most recent involving the collection of near-expiry food items from 146 Fairprice outlets before giving them to the needy. “To grow a charity, my philosophy is that you have to run it as a business,” says Stride.