Overcoming insurmountable challenges is second nature to David Lim, the man who led the first Singapore Mt Everest Expedition in 1998. He is perhaps better known for surmounting his own personal “Everest” when, just a week after returning from the Himalayas, the rare nerve disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome left David partially disabled in both legs.

Determined not to let the tragedy defeat him, he turned to motivational speaking to give strength to others and even made a triumphant return to Everest in 2001.

To mark the 25th anniversary of his first Everest climb, David reached out to the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS). He was exploring ways he could further impact people’s lives by leaving a lasting legacy of good to the causes he wanted to support. Setting up the David Lim Everest Foundation as a donor-advised fund (DAF) with CFS was the perfect way for him to meet his goal. He could continue to support people with disabilities (PWDs), and foster excellence in perseverance, mental strength and character building through education and mentorship. 

In 2023, CFS too celebrates a landmark anniversary – 15 years of helping donors make a difference. Since CFS was set up in 2008, it has received over S$292 million in donations in Singapore and disbursed over $157 million in grants to over 400 charity partners.

“Having climbed in many countries, and witnessed the challenges of those less fortunate in many areas of my life, I feel that the process of giving should be part of creating a better world,” says David. “This has shaped my views about the philanthropic goals of my giving.”

Surprising perhaps to some, David views himself as lucky. Bouncing back from his rare nerve disorder into his subsequent work as a leadership speaker and his long career of mountaineering as a PWD has put him in touch with many less fortunate than himself. He is grateful for his ability to motivate others and change their lives for the better. 

“The disability, and my coping with it, has provided a foundation in conveying to others how we can all become more resilient and support causes to create a more equal society,” David explains of his decision to partner CFS. “As I have no significant heirs, my accumulated wealth, thanks to CFS, will go in perpetuity to the causes I support.”

Working with CFS has enabled David to not only fulfil his vision for leaving a legacy, but also to touch lives he otherwise would not have been able to impact. CFS helps donors to learn more about Singapore’s charitable landscape, and many of its programmes are targeted at supporting low-income individuals in disadvantaged groups – allowing those who have been “lucky” like David to pay it forward. David is appreciative of how CFS connects him with opportunities to give to non-profits which have been evaluated as bona fide. 

Partnering with CFS ticks yet another box for David. “The support fees are extremely modest when compared to attempting to set up your own standalone private foundation,” he explains. “It also passes muster on financial stewardship while giving me access to the advisory capacity of a typical charitable board.” 

Asked what legacy he would like to leave for future generations in Singapore, David says he intends to leave a legacy that ensures the charities which serve the causes he supports receive enough to make a difference, even beyond his own lifespan.

For those wishing to leave a lasting legacy in trusted and professional hands, David believes that partnering with CFS is one of the best things they can do. The partnership eliminates the administrative mountains involved in setting up a standalone private foundation, and provides the donor with peace of mind. “CFS works with you to achieve your aims,” he says, “while supporting and enabling the decisions that you or your advisors might want to make.”

In David’s own words: “Leaving a legacy that lasts is really not as hard as climbing Everest."