Charities need to file annual submissions only once at new one-stop service

Annual submissions comprise a charity's annual report, financial statements and a governance evaluation checklist.
Annual submissions comprise a charity's annual report, financial statements and a governance evaluation checklist.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - About 2,000 registered charities will need to file their annual submissions only once, saving them administrative costs.

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) has partnered the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) and the Registry of Societies (ROS) to establish this one-stop service.

Culture, Community And Youth Minister Grace Fu said this will help reduce compliance costs and the administrative burden on charities, especially the smaller ones. She announced the new service at the Charity Governance Conference at Furama Riverfront Hotel on Tuesday (Oct 1).

Annual submissions comprise the charity's annual report, financial statements and a governance evaluation checklist.

Previously, depending on the type of legal structure, charities would have had to file their annual submissions with Acra and COC, or with ROS and COC.

During the conference, Ms Fu also said that the Commissioner of Charities is piloting a data-sharing initiative with the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).

The pilot, which started in January, allows charities funded by NCSS through the Community Chest or Tote Board to submit their financial statements and programme statements to the COC via the Charity Portal, which will share the information with NCSS.

Previously, charities that were funded by NCSS through the Community Chest or Tote Board had to submit their financial statements and programme statements to both NCSS and the COC.

 
 

The COC and NCSS will get feedback from the charities in the pilot study before expanding the initiative to the rest of the charity sector.

With the changes, COC said the reporting process is more streamlined. Charities can then better focus their time and resources on helping their beneficiaries, it added.

Speaking to charity sector professionals at the conference, Ms Fu added: "As charities, you are at the forefront of our efforts to build a caring Singapore. Not only do you provide services that benefit the society, you also have the power to influence the volunteers and partners whom you come into contact... The Government will work alongside you to strengthen your governance capabilities, expand your roles, and facilitate the formation of lasting and impactful partnerships."

Charities applaud the changes. 

Ms Porsche Poh, executive director of mental health charity Silver Ribbon, said the move will help charities save time. “I am grateful because it will save charities a lot of time to make one report submission instead of multiple submissions.  Moving forward, we can focus on the delivery of our services. ” 

Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore) chief executive  S. Devendran added that the initiatives help reduce the administrative load of charities, especially those with limited manpower. “These are social innovations which help charities to become more productive,”  he said.