Ensure that donations meet intended needs

With reference to the recent discussions on crowdfunding (Subsidies stopped for patient who raised $900k, and Needy turning to social media to seek help, air grievances; both published on July 29), we recognise the advantages of allowing donors to give directly to beneficiaries.

However, more should be done to ensure that these donations meet the intended needs.

On the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre's (NVPC) one-stop portal, Giving.sg, we enable this by working with non-profit organisations (NPOs) that verify the beneficiaries' needs before starting public fund-raising campaigns.

We also engage independent auditors to review our system regularly to ensure the soundness of our processes and cyber security.

The NVPC does not charge any fees and all donations go directly to the organisations to pass on to the beneficiaries. NPOs pay only 1.5 per cent of the donation amount for the electronic payment service. Such fees are the lowest for NPOs among all public online fund-raising portals in Singapore.

In the next few months, we will be making it easier for the public to access our service by collaborating with the Ray of Hope Initiative (ROHI), an NPO which helps raise funds online for individuals who have suffered a sudden crisis or have unplanned needs.

Individuals may approach the ROHI, which will start a campaign on Giving.sg on their behalf. The funds raised will be handled and disbursed through the ROHI to the beneficiaries after a rigorous due diligence evaluation process to ensure accountability, transparency and governance.

The ROHI helps bring together donors and beneficiaries in Singapore, making sure donations are disbursed responsibly.

Donations are not handed over to beneficiaries in a lump sum. Instead, the ROHI helps the beneficiaries pay for relevant items, such as electricity or groceries, so that donations are used for their intended purposes.

It identifies the beneficiaries' needs by taking into consideration all their bills, and reviews if they are receiving financial aid from other schemes. The ROHI then aims to raise funds to fill the gap, if any.

We believe that responsible disbursement of donors' funds is crucial to enhancing the giving experience. This will, in turn, encourage Singaporeans to help one another more and build a culture of informed and effective giving.

The NVPC encourages and applauds all forms of giving. However, we urge individuals to find out more about the causes they are supporting, where their time or donation is going, and what impact it will make.

Andy Sim

Director of Digital Innovation

National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Ensure that donations meet intended needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe