Governance in the charity sector refers to the framework and processes concerned with managing the overall direction, effectiveness, supervision and accountability of an organisation.
Charities, as community organisations working for public benefit, are accountable to the public and other stakeholders. Good governance is increasingly an important criterion for the public and charity stakeholders to decide whether to donate or volunteer their services to a charity.
The Charity Council developed the Code of Governance in 2007, to set out principles and best practices in key areas of governance and management that charities are encouraged to adopt. The first refined Code was issued in January 2011.
The Council initiated a second refinement in 2015 to provide greater clarity and relevance about good governance to the charity sector. The second refined Code was issued on 6 April 2017.
The Board of each charity has the responsibility to implement good governance practices for the effective performance and operation of their charity. The Charity Council hopes that this Code will help charities prepare themselves to cater to an increasingly discerning public and allow members of the public to understand the hallmarks of good governance.
Who is this for
- This Code is meant for all registered charities and Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) 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.
- All charities and IPCs to which the Code applies are required to submit a Governance Evaluation Checklist (GEC) on the Charity Portal (www.charities.gov.sg). Disclosure of this checklist is made available for public viewing on the Charity Portal. Charities that have gross annual receipts or total expenditure, whichever is higher, of less than $50,000 are excluded from the submission of the GEC. However, these charities are still strongly encouraged to refer to the Code and apply the principles.
- The Code operates on the principle of ‘comply or explain’. Compliance is not mandatory. However, charities are encouraged to review or consider amending their governing instrument, by-laws and policies as necessary to adopt this Code for the best interest of their organisations.
Key Areas of Governance
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 and Volunteer Management
- Financial Management and Internal Controls
- Fundraising Practices
- Disclosure and Transparency
- Public Image
With effect from financial year commencing from 1st January 2018, charities should refer to the Code of Governance for Charities & IPCs (April 2017).
Code of Governance (April 2017) (English) Code of Governance (April 2017) (Chinese)