On 15 November 2017, the Charity Council held the second Charity Transparency Awards (CTA) and 5th Charity Governance Awards (CGA) Ceremony. 41 charities were recognised for their exemplary disclosure and transparency practices with the CTA. Among the group of 41, two charities received the CGA for achieving the highest standards in governance. Graced by Guest of Honour, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Grace Fu, both sets of awards were given out at The Marriott Tangs Plaza Singapore's Grand Ballroom. 284 guests from both charitable and non-charitable organisations attended the night of celebrations.
In 2017, the Charity Council partnered Singapore Management University’s School of Accountancy to conduct an independent assessment for the awards. Winners of the CTA were then invited to participate in the CGA assessment, co-developed with Ernst & Young, followed by an interview session with a panel of judges.
At the Awards Ceremony, New Hope Community Services and Gardens by the Bay were conferred top honours for achieving the highest standards of governance in the medium and large charity category respectively.
Special Commendation Award (SCA) was also given to three charities for their achievements in specific areas of governance. Assisi Hospice was awarded SCA for Operational Efficiency, Care Corner Singapore Limited was recognised for Risk Management, and the TOUCH Community Services was presented with SCA for Clarity of Strategy .
here to download the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards programme booklet for full details of the 41 CTA winners, 2 CGA main category winners as well as the 3 Special Commendation Award recipients.
CGA 2017 Winners
The CGA 2017 winner of each main category received a plaque and a cash prize of $10,000 to further their charitable causes, sponsored by Mr Ang Hao Yao, Mr Robson Lee and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
Please find the video of the 2 charities that were conferred this prestigious award and more details about each of the winners below.
Winner of Medium Charities/IPCs Category - New Hope Community Services
“Good governance and transparency cannot be treated as just an annual exercise. It has to be intentional, a daily discipline and a no-choice item for every charity organisation. A good place to start the journey of good governance is to practice good stewardship, to see ourselves as stewards and not owners."
Exemplary Governance Practices in New Hope Community Services
In NHCS, good governance is having a robust ethical foundation at the heart of all the work it does which enables the empowerment of NHCS’ clients to achieve independent living in the shortest time possible.
Governance, Management and Board Renewal
The Board consciously considered board renewal, succession and diversity. It has intentionally established a pipeline for Board additions, renewal and successions. New Board members are recruited from various platforms including Centre for Non Profit Leadership (CNPL) Board Match, Law Society and CPA Australia. In this regard, two of NHCS’ long standing Board members of more than ten years stepped down. Recently, NHCS introduced 2 female professionals as Board members which raised the percentage of female representation on the Board to more than 30%. It is also a requirement for all Board members and office bearers to submit themselves for re-nomination and re-appointment (elected) once every 2 years. To ensure that NHCS’ Board is continuously improving, NHCS had engaged independent external parties - CNPL and Conjunct Consulting to carry out Board self-assessment and operational efficiency assessment.
Clarity of Strategy
The Board’s strategic plan “Vision 2020 – Building New Hope Together” serves as guideposts in its pursuit of excellence. The Board has identified four key strategic thrusts under the Vision 2020 as follows: i) Client-Centric, ii) Corporate Governance, iii) Continuous Improvement, and iv) Capacity Building.
Policies and procedures to enable effective oversight and management of risks, including but not limited to, identification of principal risks and effective management of those risks are documented in the Financial Policies, Risk Governance and Internal Controls Manual.
Integrity and Transparency
All new employees, management staff and board directors upon joining the organisation are required to sign the Code of ethics and conduct to ensure compliance with high ethical standards and at all times in the interests of the Charity, beneficiaries and /or members and all conflicts of interest are properly dealt with. In upholding transparency, the Board provides annual reports, financial statements and newsletters regularly to its beneficiaries, members, partners and volunteers. These documents are made available on its website.
At the heart of all these is “Building New Hope Together” for its clients. It is important to NHCS that it does not only do good but also to do good well. Accountability, transparency, effectiveness and sustainability are core commitments of NHCS. The exemplary governance practices support NHCS to:
- achieve clients’ goals and outcomes
- measure NHCS performance for opportunities to improve and innovate
- be accountable and transparent to stakeholders for the work at the programme and organisational level
- be effective, credible and sustainable
- develop the capacity and capability of NHCS
- assist internal stakeholders to understand how their work contributes to achieving NHCS’ shared vision and mission
Pursuit of Excellence
All NHCS’ internal stakeholders including Board members, Management committee and employees are in alignment that good corporate governance should be weaved, as a premise, through every aspect of NHCS - people, culture, and public face. Integrity is what defines NHCS and determines how the organisation works. Good governance is a journey that will always present new challenges. NHCS believes that this journey will never be complete as it persistently strives to not only do good, but do good well. One of its future plans is focusing on the children in these vulnerable and marginalized families who often lack the skills they need to break out of the poverty cycle.
NHCS has started a two generation approach to address the needs of both vulnerable parents and children together. In this regard, NHCS plans to start “Kampong Siglap” – A Retreat and Lifeskills Centre and a hub for Community Volunteerism. All beneficiaries that go through the retreat centre programme will have achieved at least three outcomes: i) Reintegration into society; ii) Building of social cohesion, and; iii) Tapping into community resources.
Winner of Large Charities/IPCs Category: Gardens by the Bay
“Corporate governance and risk management policies were put in place from scratch when Gardens by the Bay was first established. With the Board and the Management working as a team, good governance practices have grown to be robust, which ensures accountability to our stakeholders, sponsors and donors, and instills public confidence in the organisation. It has been a rewarding journey to see the Gardens grow and mature, and the good governance mindset and practices will underpin the Gardens as it ventures forward to explore more ways to surprise and delight our visitors with new offerings."
Exemplary Governance Practices in Gardens by the Bay
In Gardens by the Bay, good governance practices are to ensure accountability to its sponsors and donors, thereby instilling public confidence in the organisation.
The Chairman and the Ministry of National Development are collectively responsible for the composition of the Board Directors. The Board Directors are appointed on the strength of their experience, skillsets, and ability to contribute to the oversight of the governance of Gardens by the Bay and work closely with the Management to demonstrate the highest standards of corporate governance, integrity, and transparency at all levels, underpinned by strong internal control systems.
The Board ensures that the organisation acts in accordance with its objectives as set out in its Constitution, and properly accounts for and safeguards the funds and assets of the Gardens. The Board has three sub-Board Committees which are chaired by different Board Directors to assist the Board in various areas of management. They are the Nominating Committee (NC), the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) and the Remuneration and Compensation Committee (RC). The Board places great emphasis on risk management. The internal audit function is outsourced to an independent audit firm.
Conflict of Interest
To manage conflict of interest, Board Directors are required to make a declaration to the Company annually. Similarly, for staff, they are required to declare conflict of interest annually. This declaration requirement is also embedded in the process of procuring goods and services to avoid any conflict between personal interests and interest of the organisation in dealing with its suppliers and other third parties.
Gardens by the Bay has also instituted a Board evaluation exercise annually to gauge each Director’s contribution and the Board’s effectiveness. It also put in place a whistle-blowing policy to provide an avenue for employees to raise concerns about possible improprieties and obstructive actions.
In terms of disclosure and transparency, the Company publishes on its website an annual report that includes information on its corporate governance, programmes, and audited financial statements.
Pursuit of Excellence
It has been a rewarding journey for the Board to see the Gardens grow and mature with sound governance practices in place. In the beginning, the Board faced a number of challenges, but with a good working relationship between the Board and the Management, these challenges were overcome. Examples include implementing corporate governance and risk management policies and practices from scratch.
In the journey to good governance, composition of the Board is important. The Directors must act independently and yet be able to work closely with the Management to provide effective checks and balances. Communication is another crucial factor. Discussions at Board meetings are robust and recorded in detail. This ensures issues and policies are thoroughly considered and suggestions are taken on board.
Gardens by the Bay’s long-term vision of becoming a “world of gardens for all to own, enjoy and cherish” remains unchanged. Going forward, Gardens by the Bay will have to continuously refresh its product offerings both indoor and outdoor. In the pipeline are several new projects that will be completed in the coming years to delight visitors.
Special Commendation Awards
Special Commendation Awards are given out to charities for excellence in particular areas of governance. Each winner was presented with a plaque.
Special Commendation Award for Operational Efficiency - Assisi Hospice: "Good governance is the fundamental building block of organisational growth and development."
Special Commendation Award for Risk Management - Care Corner Singapore Limited:
"The nature of our work is dependent on the quality of our people, effective work processes and how we manage and optimise our resources. We thus continually seek ways to provide quality service delivery through strengthening our back-end processes. In this regard, we have established effective risk and governance measures along with other improved work processes and solutions. This is so that Care Corner can grow and be faithful as a quality and trusted agency of change for life, family and community transformation."
Special Commendation Award for Clarity of Strategy - TOUCH Community Services Limited:"TOUCH seeks to inspire and engage stakeholders with our heartbeat in transforming communities. We need them as partners in making real social impact. The social and technological landscape is dynamic and changing, we must constantly evaluate and adapt our strategies to stay relevant and effective in meeting needs."
The Charity Council would also like to extend our sincere appreciation to our Strategic Partners – SMU and EY, as well as all our CTA and CGA judges for making this Award possible.
(CTA and CGA Judges (L-R): Mr Robson Lee, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; Ms Angeline Chin, Director, Head of Corporate Citizenship, Asia Pacific, Credit Suisse; Dr Gerard Ee, Charity Council Chairman; Minister Grace Fu; Mr Tay Woon Teck, Managing Director, RSM Risk Advisory; Mr Neo Sing Hwee, Partner, Ernst & Young Advisory Pte Ltd; Mr R. Dhinakaran, Managing Director, Jay Gee Melwani Group of Companies; Dr Foo See Liang, Associate Professor, SMU School of Accountancy. Unable to attend: Mr Irving Low, Partner, Head of Risk Consulting, KPMG in Singapore; Dr Lan Luh Luh, Associate Professor, NUS Law and Business School; Mr Lee Fook Chiew, CEO, Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants).
As we celebrate the acheivements of 2017, we must be reminded that the epitome of good governance is not something that can be achieved overnight. It requires having the hunger for excellence, to continuously benchmark against others and constantly strive for improvement. Only with a collaborative effort, we will have a thriving and sustainable charity sector.
Congratulations to our winners! Thank you for your passion, drive and commitment to pursuing excellence!