67 charities recognised for good disclosure practices, 20 more than in 2018

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu (left) presenting the Charity Governance Award for small charities to Silver Ribbon (Singapore) president Ellen Lee.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu (left) presenting the Charity Governance Award for small charities to Silver Ribbon (Singapore) president Ellen Lee.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - A total of 67 charities were recognised for being well managed and having good disclosure practices at the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards 2019 on Tuesday (Dec 3) - the largest number since the awards were introduced in 2016.

Silver Ribbon (Singapore), Caregivers Alliance Limited and Assisi Hospice were among those which won the Charity Governance Awards for small, medium and large charities categories respectively.

The Charity Governance Awards is the highest honour for charities, recognised for having the highest standards of governance, while the Charity Transparency Awards recognises charities with good disclosure practices.

The annual awards are organised by the Charity Council.

Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said: "Good governance and disclosure practices in charities give the public confidence that their donations are put to purposeful use. I am gratified to note that more charities are adopting good disclosure and governance practices."

This year, about 950 charities which met the award's criteria were assessed for the Charity Transparency Awards, compared to about 800 last year. The number of groups which won the Charity Transparency Awards this year at 67 is 20 more than last year.

Of the 67 charities, seven also received the Charity Governance Awards this year. Last year, , seven out of the 47 charities that won the Charity Transparency Awards received the Charity Governance Awards as well.

Charities that qualify for the Charity Transparency Awards are also in the running for the Charity Governance Awards, as transparency and good disclosure practices are important aspects of good governance, the Charity Council spokesman said.

The spokesman said that more charities sent in their annual submissions, such as their financial statement and annual report, on time this year and met the awards' criteria. Besides, more charities are enhancing their disclosure practices.

In particular, 15 small charities, defined as those with a gross annual income of below $1 million, received the Charity Transparency Awards this year, almost double the eight last year.

This is noteworthy, given that small charities often have limited manpower and resources and yet they performed well despite their constraints.

The small charities that won the Charity Transparency Awards include Art Outreach Singapore , Filos Community Services and Volleyball Association of Singapore. Another winner is Clarity Singapore, which provides individual psychotherapy and group rehabilitation to people with mental health conditions.

Its executive director Fred Cordeiro said: "Donors may never see the recipients of their generosity but with the transparency award, they can be assured that all donations will be accountable and appropriately directed to services that benefit the beneficiaries."

At the awards ceremony, Ms Fu announced that the Charity Transparency Framework, which guides charities on how to improve their disclosure and governance practices, will be reviewed to ensure it aligns with laws and the Code of Governance for charities and Institutions of a Public Character.


As part of the review, the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards will be taking a hiatus next year, she said.

Silver Ribbon (Singapore) won the top honour on Tuesday evening when it took home the Charity Governance Awards for small charities. It was founded in 2006 by three women who were dismayed that many patients were reluctant to seek help due to the stigma against mental illnesses and wanted to change that mindset.

The women include Ms Porsche Poh, 48, who used to work as an administrator at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), She said: "I remember one woman told me she would send her son for treatment only over her dead body."

The other two co-founders of the charity are Ms Helen Lee and Ms Sally Choo.

Ms Poh started as the charity's only staff member but it now has seven employees. Silver Ribbon has three centres where it provides free counselling for those struggling with mental health woes, among other services.

Its 10-member board is headed by lawyer and former Member of Parliament Ellen Lee, who disclosed that it was not easy to find people to volunteer as board members given the stigma against mental illness.

The board is prudent in its spending, she said, and it has put in place conflict of interest policy and a whistle-blowing policy to report any potential wrongdoing, among other good governance practices. It has not received any complaint so far from a whistle-blower.

Ms Lee said: "We work very closely, like a family. The board members know our staff and vice-versa. It is very significant to win this award and it means we are doing something right."