Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Charity and public trust - SEPT 28, 2004 Singapore

Charity and public trust - SEPT 28, 2004: "EDITORIAL
Charity and public trust
THE move to make charities more open in their fund-raising and expenditures recognises the fact that charitable giving is a growth industry. Any voluntary public undertaking that can raise $512 million in a year from individuals and companies, which charities collectively did last year, will require fiduciary controls to match so as to preserve donors' confidence in the proper use of goodwill monies raised. Stringent controls must ultimately work to the advantage of charitable organisations. The $512 million raised was remarkable for a year rendered lean by Sars, and an impressive increase over the 2002 total of $382 million. The number of registered charities has also grown to some 800, according to government figures. Quite a few of these are inactive. But the number is still large for a nation that lacks state welfarism, a condition which tends to see a compensating proliferation of charitable social services. The minimal control exercised over Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs), to give charities their statutory name, is no longer adequate. It comes under catch-all income tax regulations, more of a housekeeping nature. Now, proposals up for public consultation call for more extensive disclosure of funds raised and spent on beneficiaries, as well as internal expenditures and controls. Donors can also demand access to fairly sensitive information, such as the role of professional fund-raisers and how much they are paid by IPCs which use their services. "

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