Assess charities on impact they make

Last Wednesday's commentary ("Asking the right questions about charities") does indeed raise a very pertinent question for all charities and those who support charities through donations or volunteering.

A charity is like any other organisation, irrespective of the legal vehicle it chooses.

Be it an association or a company limited by guarantee, it needs to be well managed and governed.

This is particularly so for charities that receive public donations and trust, and I fully support the moves of the Charity Council to refine the code of governance for charities.

The focus of the Charity Council lies in ensuring transparency and disclosure of charities, especially in their operations.

However, it could consider the "effectiveness" or performance of a charity in terms of the degree of change or social impact brought about by its programmes or services.

When it comes to measured outcomes, it helps to evaluate if community needs have indeed been met or overlooked.

In identifying real and pressing social needs, charities do not necessarily have to play the role of a service provider, but strategically contribute to the design, implementation and evaluation of programmes, working alongside government agencies and like-minded organisations.

We have served different groups of the less privileged in Singapore in the past 45 years - children and adults with special needs or disabilities, low-income families, at-risk youngsters, caregivers and seniors without family support.

Thus, we have our finger on the pulse, identifying gaps in the community and working with various community partners to ensure that the right service or care is delivered and, most importantly, evaluated for its impact.

A charity can be efficient in conducting its activities, but the question to ask is whether it is really making an impact in the cause it was set up in the first place to serve.

While numbers are crucial in determining success, it does not necessarily equate to real impact attained.

Tim Oei

Chief Executive

AWWA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'Assess charities on impact they make'. Print Edition | Subscribe