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Amended Charities Act aims to better protect charities and donors

09 January 2018
1. The Charities (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament today. The changes are expected to take effect within the first half of 20181.

2. The Office of the Commissioner of Charities (“COC”) aims to develop a well-governed and thriving charity sector that has strong public support. As the charity landscape continues to evolve, the Office of the COC embarked on a review of the Charities Act to ensure that regulatory policies remain relevant and effective.

3. The Bill seeks to better protect charities and donors through amendments in two areas:

  1. Strengthen governance, accountability and transparency of charities and fund-raisers in Singapore

    • Strengthen disqualification and removal regimes under the Act to ensure that charities are managed by fit and proper persons who can help maintain public trust and confidence in the sector.

    • Clarify definition of “fund-raising appeal” in the Act to reflect the current policy position that all fund-raising appeals for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes, whether big or small, online or offline, are subject to regulation. Consequently, fundraisers for such appeals have the duty to provide clear and accurate information to donors, and manage funds raised responsibly. This serves to ensure transparency and accountability of fund-raising activities, so that the public can continue to support charitable causes with confidence.

    • Other changes include: allow regulations to be made to mandate electronic filing of annual submissions and applications by charities; and various provisions to promote compliance with regulatory requirements and ensure consistency in the penalties prescribed.

  2. Enhance regulatory powers of the COC to safeguard public trust and confidence in the charity sector

    • Enhance COC’s powers to better regulate charities and fund-raising appeals in Singapore. For example, COC can extend the suspension of unfit individuals from their positions in a charity; and suspend improper fund-raising appeals.

4. As part of the review, the Office of the COC consulted various stakeholders, including the Charity Council, the five Sector Administrators, as well as charity representatives from across sectors. Public feedback on the proposed amendments was also sought before the Bill was introduced.

5. A copy of the Bill can be accessed here.


Notes

1 All Bills must go through three readings in Parliament and receive the President’s assent to become an Act of Parliament or a law. (http://www.parliament.gov.sg/about-us/parliament-information/functions)


Office of the Commissioner of Charities
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
9 January 2018


Last Updated: 09 January 2018

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