Opening Address by Mr David Gerald, Founder, President & CEO, SIAS at 2018 Charity Governance Conference, Excellence for Governance, at Mandarin Orchard 27 September 2018

Date: September 27, 2018

Hon ’ble Minister Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth

Dr Gerard Ee, Chairman, Charity Council

Dr Ang Hak Seng, Commissioner of Charities

Distinguished guests, Speakers and Panellists

Ladies and Gentleman

Good morning and welcome to the 2018 Charity Governance Conference.

We are, once again, indeed honoured and humbled to be able to organise this year’s Conference, with the support of the Charities Council, as part of our Singapore Corporate Governance Week activities, bringing together companies and charities to update their governance practices.

We are pleased to extend our platform to share best practices in governance among charities today. Governance is one of our pillars for our vision of empowering listed corporations with best practices in corporate governance. At SIAS, we practice what we preach as governance is central to how the organisation is run at every level.

Governance for Excellence

With this year’s conference theme “Governance for Excellence”, we will discuss topics that are at the top of mind for many charities – raising funds and attracting the right people to help further their cause.

With social media invading everyone’s lives today, the way people give and interact with charities has also evolved. For example, many of you would recall the “Ice Bucket Challenge” a campaign to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS and encouraged donations for research.

To recall the campaign, a person is filmed as a bucket of water and ice is dumped over the individual’s head. The individual then nominates a minimum of three people to do the same thing, having only a 24-hour time frame to complete the challenge and make a donation to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. Let me show you a 40 seconds video which would make the point am making clearer.

It went viral in July and August 2014, using social media as a platform to reach a worldwide audience. More than 17 million people posted videos online, including Bill Gates and former president George W. Bush. Over a two-year period, the money raised through the challenge helped fund research and development of treatment drugs.

The Ice Bucket Challenge raised more than US$115 million for the ALS Association. A chart from the ALS Association website shows that US$77 million, or 67%, of the funds were designated to research and another US$23 million, or 20%, were given to patient and community services; US$10 million or 9% was used for public and professional education; and they even disclosed that US$3 million was used for fund raising and another US$2 million in external processing fees. It is not only this detailed disclosure of the monies raised; the ALS website also provides detailed account for the programmes and research initiatives undertaking by ALS Association.

This level of transparency and accountability goes a long way to the development of trust in the charity. If you ask me a question – “what does good look like?” this example of the ALS Association would certainly be an excellent example which we all can learn to emulate.

Safer giving – seeking accountability

I am also encouraged by the recent launch of MCCY’s “Safer Giving” campaign. A survey conducted by the Commissioner of Charities in 2017 highlighted that while most Singaporeans engage in charitable giving, with more than 80% of respondents having donated in the preceding 12 months, only 6% would ask questions or contact the charity, non-profit organisation or fund-raiser to find out more about the cause. Therefore, I reiterate my call to all donors and stakeholders to seek accountability of the monies raised by a charity. Always remember to Ask, Check, before you Give. In this way, we are all helping the charities ecosystem to thrive, improve and charities must be transparent and accountable to donors for the monies raised.

Today, we have organised a couple of panels of experts with a total of almost 20 speakers and panellists to share their expertise and help you improve your governance. I am sure you will make full use of this opportunity to ask them questions and make them work for their lunch later.

Thank you and enjoy the conference