Rules being reviewed to make it easier for charities to raise funds in public

SINGAPORE – Charities that want to raise funds in public may no longer need to apply for permits before they hold their fund-raisers as current rules are being reviewed.

This would make it easier for charities to raise funds, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong at the Charity Governance Conference on Thursday.

“We will make it easier for registered and exempt charities to raise funds through house to house and street campaigns, while making it safer for donors,” he said.

He added that the current rules require registered charities to obtain permits before they can conduct such fund-raising campaigns, but this imposes an administrative burden on the charities.

Mr Tong did not specify which permit he was referring to but said the Commissioner of Charities had consulted with the public on “how to improve this situation”.

The Commissioner aims to roll out a revised regime next year.

Under this revised framework, registered and exempt charities, as well as permit-holders raising funds for foreign charitable purposes, need only disclose their fund-raising campaigns on the Charity Portal, the Commissioner’s website, before they raise funds in public.

“Donors can verify the legitimacy of these campaigns instantly by searching the Charity Portal, which is centrally controlled by the Commissioner’s office,” said Mr Tong at the two-day conference held at the NTUC Centre in Marina Boulevard.

The Commissioner said it will provide more details by the end of the year.

In May, the Commissioner held a public consultation where it proposed to scrap the need for charities to apply for a House to House and Street Collections licence from the police when they raise funds in public, such as during flag days, charity carnivals or any face-to face soliciting for donations on the streets.

The House to House and Street Collections Act was introduced in 1947 to regulate soliciting on the streets or going from house to house for donations.

The revised regime means charities will no longer be subjected to “dual regulation” under two sets of laws – the Charities Act and the House to House and Street Collections Act. This will reduce charities’ administrative workload.

The revision took into account feedback from the public and charities, the Commissioner said in a statement on Thursday.

At the same time, more disclosure requirements will be imposed on charities to ensure donors can easily check on the legitimacy of the fund-raisers on the Charity Portal.