Response to parliamentary question on the criteria for allowing Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) to cater to sectional interests
1. COVID-19 has posed unprecedented challenges for many sectors, including our charity sector. The government has put in place initiatives to encourage charitable donations, better support all charities in their fund-raising efforts and help them in their digital transformation efforts.
a. Efforts to encourage giving: Last year, the Community Chest launched the Change for Charity initiative to partner businesses to incorporate giving mechanisms into their business models. This seeks to encourage their customers to donate to ComChest as they interact and transact with businesses. The Government also matches donations to encourage giving, in schemes like the Community Chest’s SHARE As One programme, the Tote Board’s Enhanced Fund-Raising Programme and MCCY’s Cultural Matching Fund for Arts & Heritage charities.
b. Digital transformation and fund-raising: The Commissioner of Charities introduced the “Charities Lean Forward” series of webinars, the Charities GoDigital Kit, and the enhanced VWOs-Charities Capability Fund to help charities kickstart their digitalisation journey, and better understand how to better fund-raise online. Together with the National Council of Social Service and the Tote Board, the Commissioner also rolled out the enhanced Tech-and-Go!, a first ever tech hub for non-profit organisations to accelerate the sector’s digital transformation.
2. Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) can issue tax deduction receipts to donors for qualifying donations made. These tax deductions are only limited to IPCs which are dedicated to serving the needs of the community in Singapore as a whole. The Commissioner of Charities also holds IPCs to a higher standard of regulatory compliance and governance.
3. If there is an exceptional basis to allow otherwise, the Minister may, on a case-by-case basis, waive the requirement that the IPC’s activities must not be confined to sectional interests. For example, special consideration was given to the four self-help groups, viz. the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC), Yayasan Mendaki, Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) and Eurasian Association. This is because they were set up to complement the Government’s efforts to uplift lives by addressing the unique needs of their respective communities through community self-help. That said, the work of the four self-help groups is not confined to serving only the needs of their respective racial communities. They also run programmes that serve all ethnic groups. Should a charity wish to apply for a waiver of the requirement, it may put forth its reasons in its IPC application to the Commissioner of Charities.