How to check if fund-raisers are legitimate

We thank Mr Ong for his feedback (Questionable request for donations, Jan 30).

It is important that there is transparency and proper accountability in the collection of donations, and the Commissioner of Charities takes a serious view if the rules in the Charities Act are broken.

All public appeals for money or other property, from door-to-door visits or in streets or public places, require a licence from the Singapore Police Force or approval by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). Members of the public can ask to check the Collector's Certificate of Authority, which includes a QR code for validity checks. People can also use these methods to verify the authenticity of the appeal: Send a query via SMS to 79777 using the following format: FR(space)(licence/certificate number or organisation name)

They can also perform an online fund-raising permit search via Charity Portal (charities.gov.sg), NCSS website (ncss.gov.sg/Fund-Raising-Permits), or download a list of approved fund-raising events from: www.police.gov.sg/e-services/apply/licenses-and-permits/house-to-house-and-streets-collection

We encourage the public to help us regulate such appeals and build a more trusted charities sector by staying vigilant and discerning. When in doubt, please practise the three-step verification process: Ask, Check and Give. Ask the fund-raiser basic questions about who the beneficiary is, what the donations will be used for, and if the fund-raiser is charging any fees or commissions.

Next, perform a simple check via the Charity Portal. Give when assured the donations are going to a genuine charitable cause. Still, never feel pressured to give. If fraud or scams are suspected, file a police report at once at police.gov.sg/e-services/report/police-report

We will investigate suspicious public fund-raising appeals that are brought to our attention and will not hesitate to take action against any illegal appeals for donations.

Dr Ang Hak Seng

Commissioner of Charities

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2019, with the headline 'How to check if fund-raisers are legitimate'. Print Edition | Subscribe