Singapore

New measures to ensure online donations are used properly

New feature for national donation platform Giving.sg at year-end

Singapore's national online donation platform is introducing measures to ensure that money raised is used responsibly, following debate over crowdfunding efforts that garnered six-figure sums.

This new feature will start at the end of the year when Giving.sg - which is run by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) - begins hosting fund-raisers by non-profit group Ray of Hope Initiative (ROHI) on behalf of individuals.

ROHI will assess a beneficiary's needs after reviewing his bills and whether he gets financial aid from other schemes.

It then decides how much money needs to be raised and sets up the campaign page for him, typically within a week of being informed of the case.

Donations are given to beneficiaries in instalments.

Where possible, ROHI pays bills directly to the billing organisation - such as a hospital or school - or gives shopping vouchers, so donations are used for the intended purposes.

If the amount raised exceeds the target, excess funds go to other ROHI beneficiaries whose fund-raising targets were not met.

ROHI has these measures in place for the campaigns run on its own website and crowdfunding platform SimplyGiving.

The move to tighten oversight over public donations to individuals on crowdfunding platforms comes after several online appeals have raised up to nearly $1 million.

CLARIFY

Such drives have prompted the Government to say it will step in to clarify what it says may be misleading or incomplete accounts when people ask for money.

NVPC digital innovation director Andy Sim, in a forum letter in The Straits Times today, wrote: "We recognise the advantages of allowing donors to give directly to beneficiaries. However, more should be done to ensure that these donations meet the intended needs."

In reply to ST queries, he added: "From time to time, some individuals who have suffered a sudden crisis or have unplanned needs write in to Giving.sg, asking if we can help them. We'd then recommend a related charity that they may contact to fund-raise on their behalf.

"This approach tends to be limiting as charities often are already occupied by their own fund-raising and other programmes."

NVPC's tie-up with ROHI will allow individuals to approach the latter to raise funds on their behalf, while having a wider reach online.

Campaigns on Giving.sg, including those for individuals, can now be set up only by registered charities.

But NVPC said it made an exception for ROHI, which is working towards being one, as it has an established aid application process to effectively assess the needs of the individuals.

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

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