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Source: Online sites website screencapture.

Code of Practice launched for online charitable fundraising

The Commissioner of Charities has jointly developed the Code of Practice for Online Charitable Fundraising with four crowdfunding platforms, which are Give.AsiaGiving.sgRay of Hope Initiative and Simply Giving and the Code was launched by the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at a forum on Tuesday morning (Jan 23).

The forum was on giving matters organised by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC).

Ms Fu stated that the Code comes as online fundraising has grown in size and popularity. Citing surveys done by the NVPC, she noted that 28 percent of Singaporeans donated online in 2016, up from 8 per cent in 2014.

According to Charity Portal, governance in the charity sector refers to the systems and processes for managing the overall direction, effectiveness, supervision and accountability of an organisation.

"As community organisations working for public benefit, charities are accountable to the public. Good governance is increasingly an important criterion for the public and stakeholders to decide whether to donate or volunteer their services to a charity," it stated, adding that the board of each charity has the responsibility to implement good governance practices for the effective performance and operation of their charity.

It noted that the Code of Governance was first introduced by the Charity Council in 2007 and refined in 2011 to provide greater clarity and relevance, which aimed at setting out principles and best practices in key areas of governance and management that charities are encouraged to adopt.
The Code operates on the principle of ‘comply or explain’, and is not mandatory.  The Code is organised into 9 sections and the guidelines are tiered according to the charity or IPC status and size :

·         Board Governance
·         Conflict of Interest
·         Strategic Planning
·         Programme Management
·         Human Resource Management
·         Financial Management and Controls
·         Fundraising Practices
·         Disclosure and Transparency
·         Public Image

The crowdfunding platforms have to assess the legitimacy of the donation appeal, give regular updates of the funds raised and make public the fees they charge, or the cut they take from the sums raised under the new Code.

Commenting on this, Ms Fu said, "Donors must also do their part to hold fundraisers accountable, by asking questions on the bases of the appeal before exercising their generosity. This underscores the need for co-regulation, where everyone has a part to play in encouraging safer online giving," adding that the crowdfunding platforms are working towards complying with the Code's principles by the first half of the year.