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Commissioner of Charities

Commissioner of Charities

The Charities Unit, also known as the office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC), was set up on 1 July 2006, as part of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

Following the recommendations of the Inter-Ministry Committee (IMC) on the Regulation of Charities and Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs), the Charities Unit was officially transferred to the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) on 1 September 2006.

The division came under the purview of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) when it was formed on 1 November 2012.

Shared Vision and Strategies

The Charities Unit's vision is to develop a well-governed and thriving charity sector with strong public support. To achieve this, we adopt an eco-system approach.

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) will engage the sector through outreach initiatives as well as provide quality assurance through the Charities Act and legislations. The core stakeholders of the charity sector, comprising the donors, charities, intermediaries and beneficiaries also have an important role to play in ensuring that they do their part.


Donors are involved in Safer Giving when they conduct basic due diligence using "Ask, Check, Give". The charities must ensure that their organisations are well governed, well run, and also accountable and transparent in their reporting to stakeholders. The intermediaries can provide services to charities at a cost effective rate which helps in improving efficiency in charities. And finally, the beneficiaries can give back and contribute to the charity sector too.

This is known as co-regulation, a "many helping hands" approach, between the COC and the stakeholders in achieving the vision of a thriving and trusted charity sector.

The COC also works closely with the Charity Council and the Sector Administrators from the respective agencies, to implement initiatives based on the three key strategies outlined below.


The objectives of the COC are:

  • To maintain public trust and confidence in charities;
  • To promote compliance by governing board members and key officers with their legal obligations in exercising control and management of the administration of their charities;
  • To promote the effective use of charitable resources; and
  • To enhance the accountability of charities to donors, beneficiaries and the general public.

There are 5 Sector Administrators to assist the COC in overseeing the charities and IPCs in their respective sectors. They are:

  • Ministry of Education – For charitable objects related to the advancement of education;
  • Ministry of Health – For charitable objects related to the promotion of health;
  • Ministry of Social and Family Development – For charitable objects related to the relief of poverty or those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantages;
  • People's Association – For charitable objects related to the advancement of citizenship or community development; and
  • Sport Singapore (previously known as Singapore Sports Council) – For charitable objects related to the advancement of sport, where the sport promotes health through physical skill and exertion.

The Charities Unit oversees charities and IPCs with charitable objectives related to:

  • Arts and heritage;
  • Animal welfare;
  • Environmental protection or improvement;
  • Religion; and
  • Those which do not fall neatly under the 5 sectors.