New books to guide charities in adapting to changing needs

Two sets of books meant to help charities adapt to the changing needs of the community and build up their capabilities were launched by the National University of Singapore yesterday.

The books feature insights from academics, accountants and leaders from non-profit organisations on areas such as capacity-and capability-building, and best financial practices.

Chairman of the Charity Council Gerard Ee said it is important for charities to adapt to the changing landscape to remain relevant.

"These two sets of publications are resources for the charities to think about longer-term needs of the community they serve, so that they can make plans to build up their organisations," he said.

The Centre for Social Development Asia (CSDA) from the university's Department of Social Work launched the publications at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House.

The first set consists of two books - Doing Good In Singapore Parts 1 and 2. They include insights on topics such as the ageing population and the importance of using technology and data. They also address ways to tackle future challenges by developing organisational capability.

CSDA chairman S. Vasoo said this set of books documents the challenges faced by the social service sector through case studies.

He said: "It provides social insight and aims to encourage further discussions among stakeholders on the sector's preparation for future-readiness as well as share ideas on how to build up core competencies and develop sustainable and proactive practices to build up social and human capital."

The second set of publications is a series of five booklets aimed at guiding charities on best accounting and financial practices.

The series, Accounting And Finance Handbooks For Charities, was developed in consultation with charities and written by professional accountants. The handbooks cover topics including budgeting and cash flow management as well as fund accounting. The handbooks aim to help charities better manage their financial operations and ensure greater transparency and accountability to stakeholders.

Both sets of books were produced in collaboration with the Charity Council and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee, who was the guest of honour, said: "By transforming and resourcing for the future, we are laying the foundations for our social sector to thrive and meet the evolving needs of our society."

The chief executive of Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore), Mr S. Devendran, said that the resources help charities, big and small, to ramp up their capabilities.

"For smaller charities, particularly, these easy-to-understand resources and tool kits help them better understand what the standards required are and identify possible gaps to be addressed," he said, reiterating that "once trust is lost, it takes a long time for people to come around".

"All charities benefit from these continuing conversations," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 16, 2019, with the headline 'New books to guide charities in adapting to changing needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe