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Code of Governance for Charities

The Code was first introduced by the Charity Council in November 2007 and refined for the first time in 2010. In 2015, the Charity Council embarked on another refinement exercise to help charities apply the Code more effectively. A Sub-Committee was formed, as well as three workgroups comprising representatives from charities / Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs), professional bodies, academia, auditors and grantmakers. They proposed changes based on feedback and their experiences on the ground.

The refined Code guidelines are applicable depending on the IPC status and size of the charity. The reporting requirements of this Code will be applicable for the charities’ / IPCs’ financial years beginning on or after 1st January 2018.

What is Code of Governance for charities?

Governance in the charity sector refers to the framework and processes concerned with managing the overall direction, effectiveness, supervision and accountability of an organisation.

Objectives of this code:

  • Make charities more effective by sharing recommended practices on how effective charities are governed and managed;

  • Provide guidance to Board members to help them carry out their duties as fiduciaries (representatives entrusted to act in the interests of the charity);

  • Boost public confidence in the charity sector by setting the standards of good governance for charities to aspire towards.

Key changes to the Code of Governance

The new code will also waive the Governance Evaluation Checklist requirement for small charities that have gross annual receipts or total expenditure of less than S$50,000, as well as elevate the disclosure of information on board members

  • New define Tiers in definition of Charity size

  • Helping smaller charities with governance requirements

  • Emphasis on board renewal and succession

  • Strategic planning as a priority

Potential impact on charities organisation or institution of a public character

Charities that have gross annual receipts or total expenditure, whichever is higher, of less than $50,000 are excluded from the submission of the Governance Evaluation Checklist(GEC). However, these charities are still strongly encouraged to refer to the Code and apply the principles.

This Code is meant for all registered charities in Singapore. It does not apply to Exempt Charities and self-funded grantmakers, which in each case, does not have IPC status, such as philanthropic foundations funded with private family or institutional money. However, these organisations are welcomed to refer to this Code.

The Code operates on the principle of ‘comply or explain’. It is not mandatory. Charities and IPCs should follow these disclosure guidelines:

What is the Action needed by charities organisation

The Code operates on the principle of ‘comply or explain’, and is not mandatory. The Code is organised into 9 sections and the guidelines are tiered according to the charity or IPC status and size :

  • Board Governance

  • Conflict of Interest

  • Strategic Planning

  • Programme Management

  • Human Resource Management

  • Financial Management and Controls

  • Fundraising Practices

  • Disclosure and Transparency

  • Public Image

Preparation needed for charities organisation

Canine Welfare

"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated

 - Mahatma Gandhi

It’s not only humans that deserve welfare, animals too. Public awareness, and responsibility for the welfare of the non-human members of our community has grown in recent years, thanks largely to the efforts of animal welfare groups such as SoSD (Save our Street Dogs).

Peter, Colleen and Mark, with Tony of SoSD
(Peter, Colleen and Mark, with Tony of SoSD)

On Sunday, April 9, a group of Empact volunteers, friends and staff, and their supportive partners visited SoSD, a volunteer-run charity, on a Shelter Tour.  We learnt from Tony and Stasha, two members of its dedicated team, about its work in rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming strays, as well as its programs Healing Paws and Canine Charm.  In Healing Paws, dog-volunteers (and their owners) are trained for animal-assisted therapy at hospices, children’s homes and elderly homes, while Canine Charm gives other groups such as schools the opportunity to simply interact with the friendly dogs.

We were impressed with SoSD’s dedicated work and the well-cared-for dogs, each with their own distinct personality!  Here are 3 of them ready for adoption:

Sweet Cody
Sweet Cody
Affectionate Emma
Affectionate Emma
Jovial Trooper
Jovial Trooper

Need Help with Donation Tracking?

This March, 71 staff from 44 charities are learning how to improve donating related processes. This is all in a bid to improve efficiency.

The productivity workshop, organised by Pumpkin Lab @ NCSS, covered both donating tracking and how to automate flag day administration. Two key areas for most charities. We have been working with NCSS on Phase 1 of this large scale “Ka-ching” project, whereby five charities benefitted from the Empact’s specially developed donation tracking tool.  

Alzheimer's Disease Association, Autism Association (Singapore) and iC2 PrepHouse shared their experience of going through the pilot project to improve their donation tracking processes and learning how to use the tool.

Results from the pilot showed that:

•  Among the organisations that participated in Phase 1, the staff reported 20-50% productivity gains in the time taken for donation tracking processes.
•  Most of the productivity gains come from eliminating the time taken to enter IPC Link and other manual documentations.
•  Other reported benefits are improvement and flexibility in producing thank you letters and tax/non-tax deductible receipts.

Pretty great results! For more information regarding the process, you can refer to the summary slides from the event (Click here).

We will now be entering Phase 2 and there is an open call out for charities interested in participating and benefitting from this. If that includes you, the application process can be found below:

1.  Complete all fields in the application form (Click here).
2.  Email completed application form in softcopy (.doc/.docx) to NCSS: (please do not convert to PDF as NCSS will need to extract the information).
3.  Please ensure that the application is approved internally by the head of agency and he/she is copied in the application email to NCSS.
4.  Please note that application deadline is 7 April.
5.  For any queries, you can contact Empact: or NCSS

A Walk in the Dark is no Walk in the Park …

… a group of our volunteers discovered when for 45 minutes they tried finding their way, with the help of a visually-impaired guide, in absolute darkness through simulated everyday environment faced by the blind.

This was the Dialogue in the Dark Tour at Ngee Ann Polytechnic which the group went to Saturday, February 11, as part of Empact’s orientation for new SIMAA (Singapore Institute of Management Accounting Association) volunteers.  The activity was chosen to help raise the new volunteers’ awareness of the community and its challenges.  From walking in the park to going on a boat on the Singapore River to crossing a busy road and perhaps the most daunting of all, ordering and eating at a café, the experiential learning from the tour brought home the difficulties of negotiating the world without the benefit of sight.

But as the tour participants also learnt, the main challenge faced by VIPs (Visually-Impaired Persons) is to be treated on equal footing with the rest of us, and to be given a chance to demonstrate their capabilities in their chosen field of work.

Some reflections from the group:

Elfonson: “Through this invaluable opportunity, I get a clearer understanding of the challenges the visually impaired experienced in their daily living.  By recognising their needs, I learnt how I could offer them help and motivate them better. It was a meaningful yet unforgettable event that one should take on.”

Sherlyn: “After this experience, I am more able to empathise with the challenges that the visually- impaired face.  I would be more willing to help them and provide guidance with concern and care just like how they did for us in the dark.  I think this is really an experience that everyone should try.”

Alton: “Being emphatic about the needs of the visually impaired.  Perceived them as equals rather than sympathising with them.  Understand how to use other senses apart from my sight.”

(Participants with DiD guide Kah Yong)

Leia:  “Through Kah Yong, I was able to understand the challenges that they have to face.  It heartens me to know that despite these challenges, they are still very willing to contribute to our society and our economy.  I think the lack of awareness in our society is one of the inhibiting factors.  I hope such an experience will allow us to understand the challenges that they face and be open to support them further because I believe they have just as much potential as we do.”

Natalie:  “I admire their perseverance and determination to overcome all the challenges they have and focusing on what they can do to achieve their dreams. This aspect really motivates me to work hard and live life to the fullest instead of taking things granted and complaining about stuff that I’m not able to achieve at the moment.”

Evana: “I am really blessed and thankful of what I have now. Through this Dialogue in the Dark, I had an enjoyable experience and was able to understand the challenges they have to face. It motivates me to work hard and live life to the fullest and not taking everything for granted. I would like to encourage more people to experience the program and raise the awareness for them.

Herny:  “DiD allowed me to know more about the blind community. It also increased my awareness for helping them.  Before I only have sympathy but not really emphatic.  Throughout DiD, I realise that I should be a part of the society and I should try to help them in one way or another.”

Jacky: “A key takeaway from the session is that now I have a better understanding of the challenges and struggles faced by our disabled counterparts, and would place higher emphasis in helping them in public when in need.”

Zheng Chen: “It is great to see that facilitators who are visually-impaired are stepping out of their comfort zone to try to increase social awareness/let more people understand their needs. I feel that what visually-impaired people need is not only a convenient/navigable environment, but encouragement to go outside of their homes and live their lives.”

MNCs and SMEs Join Empact’s One-Day Challenge to Impart Skills to President’s Challenge Beneficiary Charities 

This year’s “Done in a Day” programme saw 36 corporate volunteers in Singapore commit over 184 hours in pro bono service.

Teams of between two to 12 employees from eight organisations each spent one work day providing their professional expertise to solve a specific challenge facing eight President’s Challenge beneficiary charities. This was all in support of President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive.

The largest team of volunteers this year came from ABR Holdings. 12 volunteers tackled the challenges of ensuring a safe working environment and food handling practices are in place for the community kitchen at South Central Community Family Services Centre.

Mr Andrew Khoo, COO at ABR Holdings said, “Skills-based volunteering is self-fulfilling and meaningful to the volunteers as they are personally involved in sharing their expertise with the beneficiaries. It will also tend to have a lasting positive impact on the recipients who can apply the newly acquired knowledge to their daily work.”

South Central Community Family Services Centre was trialling skills-based volunteering for the first time. Chee Chi Hoon, Assistant Director, Community Engagement said, “Expectations were exceeded. We are deeply touched by ABR Holding’s generosity of heart in sharing their skills with the community. We are sincerely appreciative to Empact and ABR volunteers for caring and giving”.

The projects - covering either IT, Marketing & Communications, Fundraising or Operations - ranged from global PR agency, Allison+Partners, providing media relations training for Trybe to the development of a long term in-kind donation strategy for Focus on the Family led by PwC Singapore volunteers.

Here is the full list of projects:

  ABR Holdings Limited - South Central Community Family Service Centre - Risk Mitigation (Food Hygiene and Handling)

  Allison+PartnersTrybe - Media Relations Consultation and Toolkit

  PwC SingaporeFocus on the Family Singapore - In-kind Donations Cost Reduction Plan

  Cognizant - Kidney Dialysis Foundation – Improving their IT Access for Clients

  Frost & SullivanMuhammadiyah Welfare Home - Revenue Generation Plan for Donated Bicycles

  Bates CHI & Partners - Teck Ghee Youth Centre, Care Corner - Social Media Plan

  Patients Engage - Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support - Digital Marketing Plan

  Community Foundation Singapore& Empact - Christian Outreach to the Handicapped - Donor/ Volunteer Database Management

8 October 2016 

Empact Volunteers' Event - Kampong Glam Community Trail 


On a balmy Saturday afternoon, 15 Empact volunteers, supporters and staff took part in a community trail in the Kampong Glam-North Bridge Road vicinity.  Awareness of, and learning about community issues and support in a neighbourhood characterised by HDB rental flats, a large senior resident population and concentration of Thai migrant workers were facilitated by students from the NUS CTPCLP (Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme.

We were fortunate to meet Uncle Willy, a local resident who graciously spent time with us to share his personal story and answer our questions.  We also stopped by a traditional Chinese snack shop run single-handedly by a heroic senior with no help at all.

Do look out for news of the next trail to participate!

11 August 2016

Volunteer Event: Acting on Purpose

Last Thursday evening, Empact's volunteers, partners and guests were treated to a fascinating evening of lively discussion and inspiring speakers.

'Acting On Purpose' brought together Uantchern Loh (basecamp blog founder), Ashwin Subramaniam (Co-founder, Gone Adventurin') and Empact volunteers for a chat on taking Action in pursuit of Purpose.

Moderated by Patrick O’Brien (MD, The Amanuenses Network) , the evening's inspirational dialogue left many of our volunteers reflecting.

Contrary to the common intent of seeking purpose, Uantchern offered an alternative to being deliberate about the search, and encouraged trying things for the sake of it. This would be how humans, as irrational and unreasonable creatures, could have a chance at discovering purpose through serendipity. 

Ashwin echoed Uantchern in his belief in randomness. He recounted his personal experiences, of how he was inspired by many little seemingly random moments to wander off the beaten path, and end up where he is today. He also shared tips on how to keep motivated by breaking up an enormous goal into small achievable milestones, alluding to the importance of creating that sense of achievement every now and then.

After their sharing, Uantchern and Ashwin spent some time interacting with our volunteers, addressing their questions and alleviating their doubts. Both gentlemen encouraged our volunteers to listen to their heart and let life’s randomness take them somewhere, hopefully filled with some kind of purpose

- Brenda Chai, Empact Volunteer

18 April 2016

Empact key delivery partner for President's Challenge Volunteer Drive

Empact is very pleased to formally announce our partnership with the President's Challenge this year.

The President’s Challenge was established in 2000 to focuson raising community resources to support good causes. In 2012, President’s Challenge was expanded to also encourage volunteerism as another form of giving.

As Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said in a speech at the end of last yea