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Verification of the legitimacy of collection of donations for religious purposes

Response to parliamentary question on verification of collection of donations for religious purposes and safeguards available to the public

  1. All fund-raising appeals conducted in Singapore for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes are regulated by the Commissioner of Charities (COC) under the Charities (Fund-Raising Appeals for Local and Foreign Charitable Purposes) Regulations 2012. The Regulations spell out the duties and obligations of fund-raisers, which include disclosure of clear and accurate information; proper management and usage of donations; as well as keeping accounting records of donations received and disbursed.
  2. While Singaporeans are generous in responding to appeals made on religious grounds, we urge donors to remain vigilant and be discerning. Donors who wish to support charitable causes (be it for religious or other causes) can practise the steps of “Ask, Check, Give”:

    a. First, donors should ask the fund-raiser basic questions such as what their tithes or donations will be used for, and how they can receive updates about the usage.

    b. Next, check via the Charity Portal (www.charities.gov.sg) if the fund-raiser is a registered charity in Singapore. Donors may also refer to the annual report, audited financial statements and published information of the charity to verify the usage of the tithes and donations. If the giving is for local religious purposes and does not involve house to house and street collections, it will not require any permits from the COC and Police.

    c. Lastly, donors can give with a peace of mind after ensuring their tithes and donations are going to a genuine charitable cause.
  3. Should donors have any concern or doubt that an appeal for donations is not legitimate, do not feel pressured to give. If there are serious concerns regarding any fund-raising activity, donors should report the matter to the COC at mccy_charities@mccy.gov.sg. If fraud or scams are suspected, donors should file a Police report immediately.
  4. The COC takes a serious view of violations of the regulatory requirements under the Charities Act and will look into cases where improper fund-raising activities are suspected and reported to the COC. The COC can also take action to suspend, restrict or prohibit the conduct of any fund-raising appeal if there is reason to believe that the appeal has been improperly administered.
  5. Zakat collections are administered by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) under the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA). Nevertheless, Muis has also put in safeguards and mechanisms to help the public identify bona fide collections. The Muslim community is encouraged to refer to Muis’ zakat website for the list of authorised zakat collection centres, and the security advisory about scams when they transact online. Should members of the community have any queries or concerns to report about zakat collections, they may contact Muis or use the link on the Muis’ zakat portal (www.zakat.sg/contact).

Last updated on 10 May 2022