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Giving is powerful. Give Safely.

We should make sure that our donations are going to benefit the people or causes we want to support. “Who to give” and “How to give” are two big questions that anyone will have when they are approached for donations. This section provide tips to help you in ensuring that you know enough about the charitable cause before giving.

Safer-Giving is about ensuring your donation is used for a genuine charitable purpose. As giving is powerful, we strongly encourage members of the public to give safely and practise the following steps of “Ask. Check. Give.”.

You may also watch the Safer-giving Campaign video ‘Giving is Powerful. Give Safely’ below to find out the questions to ask, and check to conduct before giving. We can all play a part in making Singapore a safer place to give!

  • Whom to Give?
  • How to Give?
  • Online Fund-Raising?
  • How and When to Report a Concern?
  • Media Advisory

Safer-giving involves being more discerning when responding to appeals for donations. It means knowing more about how your money will be spent to do good. Below are some suggested steps to take.

Where Do I Start? How Do I Find A Charity To Donate To?

First, take time to identify the charitable causes important to you. There are various worthy causes to support in Singapore, ranging from the advancement of education, environmental protection, arts and heritage, to supporting the young, the elderly, the disadvantaged and the disabled.

Next, find the charity that advance the cause you are interested in.

All charities have to register themselves with the Commissioner of Charities. The list of registered charities and Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) is found on the homepage of the Charity Portal. You can use the search function to find basic information on charities, including their visions/objectives and contact details. Donations to IPCs enjoy income tax exemption.

The Charity Portal also contains information on the regulatory framework governing the charity sector and fund-raising activities.

Where Can I Find Out More About The Charity Sector In Singapore?

The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) coordinates the social service sector, to identify and address service gaps in Singapore. NCSS also provides their member voluntary welfare organisations with funding grants and resources for manpower training and capability development, so that they can better help the disadvantaged.

If you are interested in issues related to philanthropy and volunteerism, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) provides information on how you, whether as an individual or an organisation, can help to contribute to charitable causes. NVPC also administers the Giving.sg initiative, which provides an online platform for donors to donate to charities.

Ways to Ascertain if a Fund-Raising Activity is Bona Fide

While fundraising can be conducted by non-charities, all public collections of money require the fund-raiser to produce a copy of the collector's Certificate of Authority, issued by the Police or the National Council of Social Service.

You can request the fund-raiser to show you the collector’s Certificate or the foreign fund-raising permit issued by the Commissioner of Charities if the fund-raiser is raising funds for foreign charitable purposes. An NCSS-issued sample certificate, SPF sample certificate and Office of COC issued sample permit is provided for reference.

Apart from requesting to see the certificate or permit, you can also verify the authenticity of the collections using the following methods for both local and foreign fund-raising:

A) SMS Verification Service by Charities Unit, MCCY

SMS "FR<space><certificate/permit number or organisation name of fund-raiser>" to 79777.

Illustration examples:

NCSS certificate

FR 2011003000

SPF certificate

FR L/HH/001111/2011

COC permit

FR 0001/2019

Organisation name of Fund-raiser

FR Fundraising Limited

B) Online Verification via Charity Portal,  NCSS Website or SPF Website.

C) QR Code Verification (for NCSS issued permits and COC issued foreign fund-raising permits)

Scan the code with your smartphone. You can download the QR Code scanner software from your smartphone's app store.

D) Police@SG smartphone application

Download the Police@SG application and go to "Useful Links" to access the Charities and Fund-Raising search engine of the Charity Portal.

Do not feel pressured to give. It is your right to find out more about the charity and their charitable activities before deciding to give.

Unsolicited Appeals for Donations through Mailers or Email

The mailers or email may originate locally or from overseas.

If the solicitation is done on behalf of a local charity, you should verify that it is registered with the COC by using the search function on the Charity Portal.

After you have ascertained that it is a local registered charity that is seeking donations, you should contact the charity directly to find out more about its objectives, its intended beneficiaries, and the people who are responsible for the charity/IPC.

  • Reference the charity's annual reports and financial statements to get an idea of its operations;
  • If third party fundraisers are involved in the appeal, take note that part of your contribution may be channeled towards the fundraising expenses;
  • If the solicitation originates from an overseas charity, you ought to exercise more care before making a donation. You are encouraged to perform a simple online search to find out more about the charity and check if it is a bona fide charity registered with the regulator in its country;
  • A well-managed charity subscribes to the principles of transparency and accountability;
  • If necessary, you may query with the charity on how the funds would be used, and how much of it would directly benefit its beneficiaries;
  • In general, you should exercise greater caution when deciding whether to donate funds directly overseas; and
  • At all time, you should not feel pressured to give.

If you have chosen a charity to donate to after considering the many factors, how can you donate? You can do so through:                                  

Direct donation

Many charities offer their own donation methods. Some may only accept cash or cheque, but most are now equipped with online payment systems accepting credit, debit, internet banking or GIRO.                                  

If you wish to make a monthly donation, approach the charity to ask about monthly transactions using credit, debit or GIRO.                                  

Central Provident Fund (CPF)

The CPF Board collects SHARE donations on behalf of the Community Chest of Singapore. If your employer is already on the programme, there should be instructions on how you can participate in the programme. If not, contact ncss_comchest@ncss.gov.sg to find out more.                                  

Do note that the Ministry of Manpower advises donors to be careful in using CPF savings for donations as they are supposed to be for retirement.                                  

Planned giving

Planned giving refers to charitable gifts that are arranged with forethought and planning. They are executed over a long period of time or in the future. If you wish to do so, contact the charity you wish to benefit to discuss the options. Do seek a professional advisor like a financial planner, lawyer, accountant or insurance agent to discuss about such a gift.                                  

Find out what information to look out for, as well as the media advisories issued by the Commissioner of Charities (COC).

All online fund-raising appeals for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes that target the community in Singapore are regulated under the Charities Act and the Charities (Fund-raising Appeals for Local and Foreign Charitable Purposes) Regulations.                                   

This means fund-raisers need to fulfil certain obligations, such as disclosing clear and accurate information to donors about the beneficiary and the purpose of the donation, ensuring the proper use of donations, as well as keeping proper records of donations received and disbursed. Please read the full legislative requirements.                                  

Online fund-raising appeals tend to tug at the heartstrings, so donate with both heart and head to avoid giving to causes which may later prove to be illegitimate. Not all online appeals are conducted by registered charities.                                  

The COC has issued restriction and prohibition orders to stop or limit improper fund-raising activities conducted by organisations and individuals. Notices and Orders of the COC are accessible to the public. Anyone who flouts the fund-raising laws can be fined up to $5,000 or jailed up to 12 months, or both.                                  

If you have serious concerns regarding any fund-raising activities, please feedback the matter to the COC. If fraud or scams are suspected, you should file a Police report immediately.                                  

Online Fund-raising conducted by an individual

What you can do:                                  

1. Before making a donation, check if you have sufficient information on the following:                                  

  • Profile and background of the individual fund-raiser;
  • Disclosure of clear and accurate information to donors about the beneficiary;
  • The purpose of the donation and how they will be utilised;
  • Any proper records of donations received and disbursed, with regular updates on the amount raised;
  • The proportion of donations going to the beneficiary; and
  • Whether the fund-raiser is responsive to queries from the public.

2. After donating, you can ask the fund-raiser these questions:                                  

  • How is the beneficiary? Did his/her condition or quality of life improve after the fundraising?
  • Has the beneficiary received the donations?

Online Fund-raising conducted by an organisation

What you can do:                                  

  1. Look out for copycat names or duplicate appeals that might mislead or deceive you into thinking you are donating to a legitimate fund-raising effort; and
  2. If the solicitation is by an organisation claiming to be a local charity, verify that it is a registered one by using the search function on the Charity Portal.

Hidden costs on Crowdfunding Platforms

What you can do:                                  

  1. Read the terms and conditions of the online fund-raising platform. This is usually found in the FAQ section of the platform. Some platforms have costs such as administrative and processing fees, or include tips by default that require the donor to opt out of at the payment page; and
  2. Check the total amount charged to your credit card before making payment.

The Code of Practice for Online Charitable Fund-raising appeals

The Code of Practice is a set of best practices for crowdfunding platforms in Singapore to ensure a safer-giving environment. Find out more about the Code and the platforms that have subscribed to it.                                  

If someone approaches you for a donation(be it to support a local or overseas cause), he or she should be able to provide you with information on the fund-raising appeal, such as the purpose of the appeal, the beneficiaries and how the funds raised would be used.                                  

You should probe further if the fund-raiser is unable to furnish details of the fund-raising appeal. In general, the following scenarios should raise some red flags:                                  

  • Fund-raiser is ambiguous or unable to provide answers to queries on the fund-raising (e.g. uses of funds received and name of the beneficiary);
  • Information provided is verified to be bogus;
  • Charity or organisation is soliciting for donations without the relevant permit;
  • Charity or organisation is conducting unlawful fund-raising activities;
  • Commercial or third-party fund-raiser is unable to show proof that they are authorised by charity to raise funds;
  • Fund-raiser is being aggressive or abusive;
  • Donors are aware that large portion of the funds raised would be used to pay the fund-raising expenses; and
  • There is reason to believe that the funds raised are being misused.

Reporting A Concern

If you believe that there is a contravention of the fund-raising regulations, please contact us via email at mccy_charities@mccy.gov.sg to provide the details.                                  

If you would like to report on dubious fund-raising appeals conducted in publicly accessible places or from house to house, or those conducted without a valid license, you are advised to report the matter to the Police immediately.                                  

Information To Provide When Making A Report

  • Name of the organisation that is conducting the fund-raising activity;
  • Details of the event that triggered the reporting; and
  • Documents received in relation to the matter.

To raise awareness of the importance of Safer-giving, the Commissioner of Charities (COC) has launched a campaign to remind donors to “Ask, Check, Give”. Read the media release here.                                  

CrimeWatch 2017 Episode 9

Click on the videos below to watch CrimeWatch 2017 Episode 9 - "Online Fund-raising Appeals". The episode provides an advisory by the Deputy COC on the information one should look out for, and key questions to ask before responding to an online fund-raising appeal.                                  

This Crimewatch episode is a collaboration between MCCY, the Singapore Police Force and the National Crime Prevention Council.                                  

CrimeWatch 2014 Episode 8

Watch CrimeWatch 2014 Episode 8. See how dubious fund-raisers operate. Find out how you can protect yourself from becoming the next victim! This CrimeWatch episode is collaboration between MCCY, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) to alert the public on improper fund-raising activities and to promote informed giving.                                  

Frontline 2014 Episode 10

See Episode 10 of Frontline(前线追踪), released in 2014, for media coverage on fund-raising scams. It touches on the topic that unidentified youths have been asking for donations and contributions that is of a minimum amount of $10. In addition, it was also to do good deeds in the name of selling small items and gift certificates. Watch the following episodes to learn how to distinguish between authentic and bona fide fund-raising activities.                                  

Note: YouTube videos are in mandarin.