Commissioner of Charities implements changes to improve accountability by fund-raisers and financial transparency by charities
In 2010, the Charities Act amendment Bill (2010) was passed in Parliament, outlining changes to the fund-raising requirements. The 2011 Commissioner of Charities (COC) Annual Report outlined changes to the financial reporting requirements of charities. These requirements have now been implemented via the Charities (Fund-Raising Appeals for Local and Foreign Charitable Purposes) Regulations and Charities (Accounts and Annual Report) Regulations.
Improve Accountability by Commercial Fund-raisers and Participators
The fund-raising changes include requiring commercial fund-raisers and participators to have a written agreement with their beneficiary charity. This agreement spells out arrangements on the fund-raiser’s remuneration and the timeframe within which the proceeds must be transferred to the charity. The new fund-raising regulations also require a commercial fund-raiser or participator to state its identity as a commercial entity and the proportion of total proceeds raised that will be directed to charitable purposes in its solicitation materials (e.g. brochures and websites). In addition, commercial fund-raisers or participators will not be allowed to use terms such as “charitable organisation” to represent themselves.
These additional requirements would help to ensure more accountability for funds raised and that fund-raising is carried out responsibly.
Increase Financial Transparency of Charities
Currently, all financial statements of charities are available for public inspection at the Office of the COC. To improve accessibility for the public, the financial statements will be made available on the Charity Portal (www.charities.gov.sg). Charities subjected to external audit will be required to fill up a summary financial information form which will be made available online as well. This is for the benefit of the public who may be less accustomed to reading financial statements. The changes will apply for financial years ending on or after 1 Jan 2013. The increased transparency will boost the confidence of charities’ supporters and stakeholders.
Going forward, the Office of the COC will continue to adopt a facilitative approach towards charities and guide them in complying with regulatory requirements. It will also continue to enhance charities and the public’s access to information via the Charity Portal. Through these efforts, the Office of the COC hope to better support charities and IPCs in their charitable work, protect public interest and enhance public confidence in the sector.
The amended regulations, which will come into force on 1 November 2012, and a summary of the key changes to the fund-raising regulations are available for reference on the Charity Portal.
Issued by the Office of the Commissioner of Charities
Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports