Donors should continue to practise informed giving

We note that online platforms for fund raising have been growing ("Donors clicking with a cause - and giving"; April 10).

Indeed, the availability of such platforms facilitates giving, and has been making it easier for individuals and organisations to set up fund-raising campaigns.

Such sites may spur giving among Singaporeans for a variety of causes, but the public should continue to exercise caution.

When in doubt, the public should find out more from the fund-raisers before making a donation. At no time should anyone feel pressured to give.

Some questions donors can ask include: How will the donations be used? Who is the beneficiary? How do I know whether my donation will reach the beneficiary? Will the fund-raiser be receiving any commission from my donation?

Generally, fund-raising appeals for charitable, benevolent and philanthropic purposes in Singapore are regulated under the Charities Act.

This covers those conducted online as well.

Anyone who seeks to conduct fund-raising appeals must abide by the regulations under the Act, which requires fund-raisers to disclose information on how the funds will be used, maintain records of donations received and used, and ensure proper management of donations.

While we want to encourage a culture of giving in Singapore, we also want to help Singaporeans know fully who they are giving to.

Thus, we have made available information on charities, including their profile, annual reports and financial statements, on the Charity Portal (www.charities.gov.sg).

The public may also access the Charity Portal to check whether a fund-raiser has the necessary permits, should the appeal be for an overseas cause.

We take a serious view of any violation of the regulations under the Charities Act, and may restrict or prohibit the conduct of any fund-raising appeal if there is reason to believe that it has been improperly administered.

If members of the public believe that a fund-raiser may not be following regulations, they should contact us via the Charity Portal.

If fraud is suspected, the public should make a police report immediately.

Sim Hui Ting (Ms)

Assistant Commissioner of Charities

Office of the Commissioner of Charities

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2016, with the headline 'Donors should continue to practise informed giving'. Print Edition | Subscribe