Don't follow the crowd when making donations

Donation via crowdfunding raises a few questions (Request for donations landed woman in trouble; June 12).

In Ms Tang Zhi Ling's case, why did she not seek help from ComCare or Medifund? Did she approach her family members for financial help before turning to crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding donations depends on attracting some form of sympathy from the public.

Donors tend to respond in an emotional, as opposed to rational, way. There is the perception that the donation will alleviate someone's suffering.

However, as with any other method of soliciting donations, there will always be people who exploit the generosity of donors.

Unlike charities and Institutions of a Public Character, recipients of crowdfunded donations are subject to fewer checks and balances to make sure the money is spent as it is intended.

Donors should ask to whom they are donating and make sure of the recipient's identity.

They must ask whether this is someone taking the easy way out instead of approaching government agencies for help. Is there transparency and accountability?

It is not necessarily a good thing to have many crowdfunding donation campaigns.

It means the state is not doing its job to address the complex societal problems and poverty.

But this is not the case in Singapore, where our Government has financial assistance schemes.

If people want to contribute, there are plenty of charities that have a track record of putting money to good use and are publicly accountable.

People should exercise caution when donating to causes. If in doubt, do not donate.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2017, with the headline 'Don't follow the crowd when making donations'. Print Edition | Subscribe