NCSS helps member VWOs save nearly $500,000 with free or discounted services

Member voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) reported cost savings of more than $487,000 for the first half of 2013 financial year, thanks to discounted or free services.

This figure is on track to exceed total cost savings of $815,000 in FY2012 and $650,000 in FY2011, said the Council on Thursday. It has about 400 member VWOs.

The services, in areas such as auditing, printing, legal or cleaning, are offered on the NCSS Common Services platform, started in 2006 to help VWOs achieve better organisational efficiency and cost savings. Currently, 25 service providers offer discounts and free help to the member VWOs.

The top three services with the highest cost savings in the first half of FY2013 are financial audit services ($169,000), information technology hardware purchases ($113,000), and governance and internal audit services ($84,000).

The top two services used among member VWOs are insurance, used by 126 VWOs, and audit services, used by 62 VWOs. Some 48 VWOs also benefited from discounted groceries and fuel, which were tied at third place.

Lions Befrienders Service Association (Singapore), which runs a befriending scheme for seniors and six senior activity centres, used the audit services.

Said its executive director Goh Boo Han: "We not only benefited from their professional service but also managed to save cost as their audit fees were more affordable than that of our previous auditor."

With growing demand from VWOs, more vendors and services are needed. Ms Quek Boon Kien, NCSS director of fund allocation and VWO benefits, said the Council is getting feedback on offering other services which will cater to VWOs' needs.

"Through offering greater cost savings to the VWOs through the Common Services, they can then channel their savings to serve their clients better," she added.

One vendor offering services at a discounted rate to the sector since 2007 is Fiducia, an audit firm which serves about 50 member VWOs.

Its managing partner Wayne Soo said: "VWOs are looking for an audit with competitive fees and advice when there are new developments in the sector... Generally, we have seen a rise in the quality of governance in the VWOs. This augurs well for the sector and is reflected by the increase in the annual donations made to the sector."