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Fostering a strong spirit of giving and care

Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at the Charity Governance Conference

27 September 2018

1. Good morning distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I’m so happy today to join you at the 2018 Charity Governance Conference, organised by the Securities Investors Association (Singapore), with support from the Charity Council.

2. And very happy that SIAS has declared a day in their annual Corporate Governance Week to the charity sector. Thank you David and SIAS, for your continued support!

New Visibility Guide sets out framework for good governance and reporting practices

3. This year’s conference theme is “Governance for Excellence” and so appropriate that I mentioned earlier that good governance is indeed an important goal for both the corporate and charity sectors. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring good governance, including the government, the public, as well as all of you here – our charities.

4. MCCY places great emphasis on good governance and accountability in the charity sector. We believe that to encourage more giving, trust is crucial and to build trust, good governance is necessary. On the regulatory front, we are progressively bringing into effect amendments to the Charities Act. This will strengthen the regulatory framework for charities, and better safeguard both charities and donors. In particular, the Charities (Institutions of a Public Character) Regulations will be revised to enhance the accountability of IPCs. The revisions are targeted to be rolled out by the end of this year.

5. In January this year, the COC’s Code of Practice for Charitable Online Fund-Raising Appeals was launched to enhance transparency in the online giving sphere. Four major crowdfunding platforms, namely Give.asia, Giving.sg, Ray of Hope and SimplyGiving, have already subscribed to the Code. These platforms make up about 70% of the online giving space in Singapore, and we hope that more will follow. The Code now requires fund-raisers to declare whether their beneficiaries are already receiving funding assistance, prior to setting up online appeal pages. I think the idea is really to be transparent about your needs and to give the public a full assessment and an accurate picture for their assessment. And we hope that all of you here, who have not yet explored online giving platforms, to consider the online mode of fund-raising and soliciting of resources, to consider these four platforms. We want to send the right signal to the online platforms that with good governance in track, we can attract more donors, and the donors will have confidence in them. So the COC has started making checks to ensure compliance, with plans to conduct a formal audit in the near future.

6. Just as good governance is necessary in promoting giving, communication is also important. To this end, I am pleased to announce the introduction of a new Visibility Guide for charities.

7. Developed by the COC, the Visibility Guide is a framework that sets out good reporting practices for charities. It will guide you in presenting information to your stakeholders.

8. To complement this new Visibility Guide, the COC will be developing an Annual Report template, which will include both mandatory obligations as well as good-to-have information for better accountability and transparency.

9. By the end of this year, the COC will be introducing regulations on electronic filing of annual submissions, including the Annual Report. These developments will complement our efforts to enhance transparency and make more information available to the public. The COC will also be streamlining current reporting requirements to make them easier for charities to follow. More details regarding the streamlined requirements will be shared next year.

SG Cares

10. Building a caring society requires all of us to play a part. Last year, we launched the SG Cares movement to harness the collective strength of charities, community partners, corporates and public agencies in building a more caring and inclusive home for all.

11. As part of this movement, we introduced the SG Cares App earlier this year. The App provides information on causes that we can support, as well as the various community needs where we can help make a difference. Charities can also use the App to post stories and raise awareness of the causes that they champion. Whether you want to volunteer or you want volunteers, I encourage you to download the App and make full use of it! This is a ready platform for all of us, all of us in the room, to take full advantage of. We really want to help charities, big or small, to reach out to as many people as possible.

12. In tandem, we are transforming the delivery of our social services, so that help can be extended effectively, quickly and sustainably. For example, in our social service offices that are managed by Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), our frontline officers will be better equipped with information on a range of schemes and we will make it more convenient for individuals and families to apply for multiple help schemes and services. So we will try to consolidate, and we will try to make the SSOs as one-stop as possible.

13. We will also better enable and support government, community and corporate partners to work together on the ground. On this front, NCSS has been working with social service organisations to build up volunteer management capabilities and restructure volunteer roles, ensuring that they supplement the services, and create more purposeful volunteering opportunities. So, remember how I talked about we are going in a big way to encourage more Singaporeans to do good. I think it is equally important that we get the back of our house ready as well. Because it is important for volunteers to get the good experience in order to make a sustained effort. So I think all of us have the duty to look at how we manage volunteers, how we involve them, and also from the systems point of view, to look at how to we better apply resources at where it is needed. I have been involved in the constituency for a long time, and every Chinese New Year when we go around delivering rice and red packets, in some households I see six or seven bags of rice from different VWOs. I think we all have had similar experiences, that we tend to go to the VWOs that are more established and have a structure and reach out to the same people.And I’m sure, while there are households that have six or seven people serving them, there are households that have none. But I think from the systems point of view, we will try our best to see how we can do better resource allocation, how we can avoid duplication of resources, and how we can plug gaps within the system. So that’s something that NCSS, NVPC and various public agencies are working on, to get the basic allocation framework as efficient as we can.

14. For corporates who wish to contribute, the NVPC’s Company of Good (COG) programme provides companies with a framework to give more strategically and sustainably. At the same time, the Community Development Councils (CDCs) play a key role in connecting corporates to local CSR opportunities, by identifying community gaps and matching them to community partners. So there are a few things are going on with various public agencies, all adding to the broad picture on creating a more caring society because Singaporeans see volunteering, see giving, really as part of the Singapore identity.

15. We all have in us, the heart to care for others. By combining our efforts and resources, we can build a strong society where no one is left behind.

Conclusion

16. Today’s Conference is an opportunity for you to form new relationships, and build on existing ones. I hope you will also discuss the issues you face with regard to governance, and share tips on how to address them. I encourage you to tap on the resources provided by the COC and the Charity Council, to build your capabilities towards better governance. To the SIAS members and companies here today, you too can play a part, whether by contributing directly or supporting CSR programmes. Together, all of us, we can continue to foster a strong spirit of giving and care in Singapore.

17. Thank you very much!

Last Updated: 08 October 2018

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