Under review: Laws covering donations made to individuals

Under review: Laws covering donations made to individuals

When Mr Ho Boon Sim's neighbour, navy serviceman Jason Chee, lost both legs and an arm in a ship accident last December, he set up a Facebook appeal to raise funds for his friend.

He asked for funds to be sent to the Thomson Shunfu Residents' Committee because handling the money on his own was not going to be easy.

According to charity regulations here, Mr Ho would have had to keep a detailed list of how much each person donated, and account for how every cent was spent. "It's important to be accountable but it will definitely save time if we don't have to do all the administrative work," said the 26-year-old undergraduate.

He and other good samaritans like him could get their wish. The Office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) has proposed easing laws governing fund-raising for individuals like Mr Chee as part of a review. By considering such donations as private gifts, fund-raisers - who are usually family and friends of the beneficiary - will no longer have to be subjected to such strict book-keeping.

The COC said in a statement on Friday that it wanted to strike a balance between rules and the spirit of charity, especially now that fund-raising efforts for needy individuals are on the rise.

"We have seen more instances of the community responding generously to fund-raising appeals on behalf of individuals in need," it explained. "This trend calls for a need to strike a balance between regulation to protect the interest of donors and allowing the philanthropic spirit to flourish."

Currently all fund-raising, whether for charitable organisations or needy individuals, comes under the Charities Act. The rules impose certain obligations on fund-raisers, including the keeping of proper records. They also require that money collected be used only for the purpose publicised to donors.

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