More help for charities to go digital, boost transparency

Four more partners also come on board to help them strengthen regulatory compliance

Charities will receive support to boost their digital capabilities, and strengthen regulatory compliance and transparency, with a number of initiatives to be rolled out later this year.

They include a new toolkit, which will be ready in November, to help charities embrace digitalisation as support for their corporate and administrative functions.

Speaking yesterday at the virtual Charity Governance Conference, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said the Charities GoDigital Kit is one of three initiatives to strengthen the capabilities of charities amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Describing charities as the glue that holds Singapore together, the minister said they play a key role in civil society that benefits the most vulnerable segments of the society.

"Much of your work is in fact critical to our national drive to build a more caring and inclusive Singapore," Mr Tong told about 500 charity representatives and partners at the two-day conference which is being held virtually for the first time.

The conference is organised by the Securities Investors Association (Singapore) with support from the Charity Council.

Mr Tong also announced a revised Charity Transparency Framework, to be published next month.

Transparency, as with accountability, is key in building trust with donors and stakeholders, he said.

"The more well governed a charity is, the more confidence a donor will have in that charity," he stressed. "This framework serves as a guide to help charities define their policy and approach to transparency... It will outline good disclosure practices, and help charities communicate better with their stakeholders."

The framework was launched in 2015, and the revision was announced last year.

In a statement, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth said the framework, to be published on the Charity Portal and the Charity Council website, has been redesigned to suit charities of different sizes.

Mr Tong also announced that four more organisations will be helping to strengthen charities' regulatory compliance and effectiveness, starting yesterday. These shared services partners will do it at low or no cost.

Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong (second from left) at the MOU signing with representatives from two of the four new shared services partners during the Charity Governance Conference yesterday. With him are (from left) Institute of Si
Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong (second from left) at the MOU signing with representatives from two of the four new shared services partners during the Charity Governance Conference yesterday. With him are (from left) Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants president Kon Yin Tong, Commissioner of Charities Ang Hak Seng, and Law Society Pro Bono Services deputy chairman Kelvin Wong. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTH

They are the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, Law Society Pro Bono Services, the Institute of Internal Auditors Singapore, and Shared Services for Charities.

This brings to 11 the organisations which are helping charities to access IT solutions, recruit talent and file annual reports and financial statements.

Mr Tong added that his ministry will continue to work with partners and provide resources to strengthen the capabilities of charities and build a "more thriving and resilient" charity sector.

In his speech, Commissioner of Charities Ang Hak Seng said charities should not only look at increasing donations, but also spend time to improve productivity.

"We also want you to deepen your professional core - I always say, do what you do best, outsource the rest," he said, adding that working with the shared services partners would enable charities to focus more on their activities and programmes.

Charity Council chairman Gerard Ee said that during this challenging period, "charities need to increase the confidence in their donors, to share with them the good work that charities are doing, and to garner more support for your efforts to help beneficiaries".

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2020, with the headline More help for charities to go digital, boost transparency. Subscribe