Guidelines on business arms shouldn't hamper work of charities

It is important to establish guidelines governing charities that operate businesses, but they should apply on a case-by-case basis (Watchdog to keep an eye on charities that run businesses, June 19).

One of the challenges facing many charities is how to sustain existing programmes and embark on new initiatives to better serve the community.

All these necessitate the need for organising fund-raising events like flag days and appealing for public donations.

Given the difficulty in being financially independent, some charities may decide to set up social enterprises with a commercial objective.

All revenue and profits generated from such enterprises are to be ploughed back into the charities for community services.

Conflicts of interest or staff issues need not arise because the people who operate these enterprises are mainly members and volunteers who offer services they are good at, such as in the area of food and beverage, house moving or consultancy and training services.

If at all possible, charities must not solely depend on government funding and public donations, but search for appropriate businesses in order to move forward.

It is hoped that any enhanced guidelines are not so stringent as to hamper the efforts of charities in expanding their roles in serving the community.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng