Public Fund-Raising Disclosure Regime to be implemented from 9 October 2023
The public will have access to more details of public fund-raising activities conducted for registered or exempt charities and those with existing permits from the Commissioner of Charities (COC) for donations to foreign charitable causes, to verify the legitimacy of their fund-raising collections.
29 September 2023
- The public will have access to more details of public fund-raising activities conducted for registered or exempt charities and those with existing permits from the Commissioner of Charities (COC) for donations to foreign charitable causes, to verify the legitimacy of their fund-raising collections.
- Only registered and exempt charities, and valid permit-holders raising funds for foreign charitable purposes are exempted from having to apply for a House to House and Street Collections (HHSC) licence from the Police before they raise funds in public.
8 September 2023 (Singapore) – The Commissioner of Charities (COC) will be implementing the disclosure regime for public charitable appeals conducted by (i) registered and exempt charities under the Charities Act 1994 (CA), and by (ii) Fund-Raising for Foreign Charitable Purposes (FRFCP) permit holders approved by the COC (collectively known as “charitable fund-raisers”), with effect from 9 October 2023. Amendments to the Charities (Fund-raising Appeals for Local and Foreign Charitable Purposes) Regulations 2012 will come into operation on the same date to give effect to the disclosure regime.
Safeguards for public to make informed decisions on donations, while streamlining processes for charities
- Currently, all house to house and street collections including those conducted for charitable fund-raisers, require a licence from the Police or a permit from the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). This subjects charitable fund-raisers to the regulations and requirements under both the CA and the House to House and Street Collections Act (HHSC).
- With a maturing charity landscape, the revised regime seeks to ensure appropriate transparency and accountability safeguards to help the public make informed decisions on their donations, while streamlining processes and reducing administrative burden on bona fide charities and fund-raisers. These are in line with Singapore’s efforts over the years to strengthen trust and promote good governance in the charity sector. Enforcement action, where necessary, may be taken by the COC against improper appeals, failure to comply with the new disclosure and identification requirements, and/or wilfully providing inaccurate disclosures.
- House to house and street collections for organisations other than those indicated above will still be licensed by the Police under HHSC.
- The implementation of the disclosure regime comes following an online public consultation exercise in May 2022 to seek feedback on the proposed changes to the regime. This drew over 200 responses. The COC also held focus group discussion sessions on the revised regime with over 40 charity representatives, with there being general support of the proposed changes.
- The new requirements are as follows:
- Under the new disclosure regime, charitable fund-raisers will be required to disclose details of their public fund-raising appeals on the Charity Portal (www.charities.gov.sg).
- Public fund-raising appeals refers to collections of monies and other property (e.g. donations-in-kind) by means of visits from house to house or by soliciting in the streets, and includes such appeals made by third parties.
- The disclosure should be made at least seven working days before the commencement of the appeal, and this information will be made available on the Charity Portal. This will enable the public to verify the legitimacy of such collections.
- Collectors and fund-raisers will also be required to carry clear identification during collections, such as an official letter from the charity or FRFCP permit holder.
- Mr Desmond Chin, Commissioner of Charities said, “We seek to maintain a balance in encouraging charitable efforts and giving while safeguarding public interest and trust. The disclosure regime aims to strengthen the transparency and accountability of fund-raisers and promote safer giving for appeals conducted through house to house visits or by soliciting in the streets. While most fund-raising appeals are genuine, members of the public should still ask for more details and ensure that they are contributing to a genuine cause and that donations will be used for the intended purposes.”
Building a safer giving culture
The COC is committed to ensuring that the public’s trust in Singapore’s charity sector is upheld and that donors continue to have avenues to give safely to causes they support.
- The COC regularly engages various partners and stakeholders to upskill charities in their capabilities against donation scams and to educate their donors on safer giving. This includes a webinar on Fund-Raising Regulations and Digital Protection conducted in March 2023 in partnership with Pro Bono SG to guide charities on steps to take to protect themselves and their donors against common attack methods associated with charity donation scams. Going forward, we will continue to train charities on how they can do their part in fighting scams and educating their donors on informed giving.
- The COC strongly encourages the public to continue practicing safer giving to ensure that their donations are used for genuine charitable purposes. By practising the three simple steps of “Ask, Check, Give” when responding to both in-person and online fund-raising appeals, the public can better protect themselves against charity donation scams:
- [Ask] Ask questions such as (i) who the beneficiaries are, (ii) what the donations will be used for, (iii) how much of my donation goes to the beneficiary or the charity and (iv) whether the collector or fund-raiser has an official letter from the beneficiary organisation to conduct public fund-raising appeals
- [Check] Check if the organisation or beneficiary is a registered/exempt charity or FRFCP permit holder, or has disclosed details of their public fund-raising appeal via any of the following channels:
- Charity Portal (www.charities.gov.sg)
- Scan QR code on the official letter from the organisation (which will lead to disclosure details on Charity Portal)
- SMS to 79777 in the following format FR<space>Organisation Name
- Call Charities Unit hotline at 6337 6597
- [Give] Give with a peace of mind once donors are assured that their donations are for a genuine cause.
- Members of public should not feel pressured to give if they have concerns or suspect that an appeal for donations is not legitimate. If there are any serious concerns regarding suspicious charitable fund-raising activities, the public can report the matter to the COC at email@example.com. If fraud or scams are suspected, the public should file a Police report immediately.
- In tandem with the implementation of the disclosure regime, the COC has also launched the “Better Ask, Better Check, Give Better” campaign to raise awareness and better educate the public on safer giving and practicing the steps of “Ask, Check, Give”.
- For more details on the disclosure regime and safer giving, visit go.gov.sg/safergiving.
Last updated on 08 September 2023