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More efforts to improve governance of charities as donations dip in 2013

The Commissioner of Charities Low Puk Yeong says strengthening good governance and transparency in charities sector is key to maintaining public confidence and attracting more donors.

SINGAPORE: Donations to charities in Singapore slowed last year, with tax deductible donations totalling S$969.7 million in 2013 compared to the record $1,031 million in 2012. This is according to the latest annual report released by the office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) on Thursday (Aug 14). 

Both corporate and individual donations dropped - by 8 per cent and 1 per cent respectively - in 2013 compared to the previous year. 

To encourage more individuals and corporations to step up their support for charitable causes, COC Low Puk Yeong says his office will be focusing on strengthening the good governance and transparency of charities. This would be key to maintaining public confidence, he believed. 

“Donors are no longer just going by the objects and programmes of the charities but also how well-governed and transparent they are,” Mr Low said in a statement. “Charities need to be both effective and accountable.”

Initiatives to improve governance standards of the charity sector include a study led by the Centre for Non-Profit Leadership to take stock of the disclosure and governance practices of charities in Singapore. The Social Service Institute, the training arm of the National Council of Social Service, also worked with the COC’s office to develop a guide to help charities guard against conflicts of interest and improve administration and control. The COC’s office will also be working with the Charity Council to step up public education efforts on informed giving.

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