Report a Concern
Please email to
firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to report a concern on a charity or a fund-raiser. There are a few things which you would need to take note of before raising any issues with us.
- Report a Concern on a Charity/Fund-Raiser
- Scope of Issues under the COC’s Purview
- Information to Provide When Reporting a Concern
Charities are publicly accountable for the funds they receive and privileges they enjoy because of their charitable status. The responsibility for proper administration and management of charities rests with the governing board members and trustees. However, there may be situations where we need to engage with the charities if it is perceived that there are risks to the charities' resources, assets, work, beneficiaries or reputation or where it is appropriate for the regulator to exercise our legal powers.
When a complaint is received, the next course of action will be determined by the nature and facts of each case. In some cases, this is a matter that the Commissioner of Charities or the Sector Administrators may commence further investigation. In other cases, the public may take the matter up with the charity itself or with another public agency, such as the Singapore Police Force. In addition, any suspicious transactions or suspected terrorist financing activities should be reported to the Suspicious Transactions Reporting Office (STRO) under the Commercial Affairs Department.
Members of the public should lodge a complaint with the Commissioner of Charities (COC) or the Sector Administrators (SAs) when there is a serious risk of harm or abuse of a charity, its assets, beneficiaries or reputation. They include:
- Significant financial loss to the charity arising from dishonesty, fraud or mismanagement/misconduct;
- Serious harm to beneficiaries of the charity, in particular, the vulnerable beneficiaries;
- Suspected threats to national security, such as terrorist activity;
- Criminal and/or illegal activity within or involving the charity (including fraud, terrorist financing and money laundering);
- Sham charities set up for an illegal or improper purpose;
- Charities set up for significant personal/private benefit;
- Breaches of trust or abuse that would significantly impact public trust and confidence in the charity sector; and
- Non-compliance with the Charities Act and Regulations.
When considering financial loss, the COC or the SAs are concerned about actual or suspected fraud or theft regardless of the quantum involved. This does not include the value of the investment funds lost in the ordinary course of investment activities.
The COC’s powers do not extend to cover activities which are criminal in nature. Actions taken by the COC or the SAs on such matters will be restricted to considering whether there has been misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of the charity such that it has allowed illegal activities to occur. There may also be a need to act to protect charitable resources. Any suspected criminal activities will be referred to the Singapore Police Force for its action.
Issues to be Raised Directly with Charities
Occasionally, there may be cause for concern which prompts the public to lodge a complaint about charities. Some of these issues should be raised directly with the charity, which include:
- A complaint about services that the charity provides;
- Membership matters;
- Disputes or disagreements between members
- Disagreement with or criticism about decisions made by the governing board which are within the powers laid out in the governing instrument of the charity; or
- Should the complaints about a charity arise as a result of a dispute, the COC may only get involved in limited circumstances.
The Commissioner of Charities (COC) or the Sector Administrators (SAs) will need to determine if the complaint is substantiated. If there is no evidence or basis to support the complaint or allegation, it may be decided that intervention may not be appropriate. The COC or the SAs will not act on unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or opinion as these may disrupt the charity’s work, which is unfair to the organisation, stakeholders and beneficiaries.
When members of the public raise their concerns, they are required to provide evidence to support the allegations. Comprehensive information allows the COC or the SAs to assess your complaint more effectively and determine the appropriate action. The required information includes:
- Name of the charity and its Unique Entity Number (UEN);
- Nature of the complaint (indicate whether it is an incident that has happened or whether it is an allegation or suspicion of something that may have happened or is likely to happen);
- Person(s) involved and position(s) in the charity;
- Whether the person(s) is/are still involved in the charity;
- Details or copies of documentary evidence in support of your concerns;
- Details of any previous correspondence or contact with us or any other public agency about these matters; and
- Complainant’s name, postal and email addresses and contact number and connection (if any) to the charity.
All information should be provided at the outset and not submitted in piecemeal.
Please note that:
- It is a criminal offence to knowingly or recklessly supply the COC or the SAs with information which is false or misleading.
- If you have previously reported a matter to the COC or the SAs, you do not need to provide such information again. The COC or the SAs will not reconsider complaints that have already been dealt with unless circumstances have changed materially, or significant new evidence has become available.
- The COC or the SAs will not consider complaints which are lodged anonymously unless the complaints are substantiated with documentary evidence.
Confidentiality of Informant
The identities of the informants will not be disclosed to the public or the charity. However, the COC or the SAs reserve the right to share relevant details of the complaint with the charity, depending on the severity of the issues highlighted. The charity might form their own conclusion about the identity of the informant based on the details of the information shared.