Donations to charity hit 14-year record of $1.03b

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans are giving to charity more than ever before.

Donations last year hit $1.031 billion, exceeding the billion-dollar mark for the first time in at least 14 years, according to the Commissioner of Charities annual report which was released on Wednesday.

The amount is 12 per cent more than the $896 million raised in 2011.

Corporate donations led the way, rising 16 per cent, while individuals' contributions went up by 13 per cent.

The education sector benefited the most, receiving 40 per cent of the amount collected. It took in $412.9 million, up from $286 million in 2011.

The rest of the money went mostly to the social services and health sectors.

"The economy is doing well and many have taken it upon themselves to give back to society," said Singapore Red Cross secretary-general Benjamin William. The organisation raised $1.7 million for its local programmes last year, slightly more than $1.6 million the year before.

Even less well-known charities such as the Handicaps Welfare Association also received more. It took in $1.8 million in tax-deductible donations for its financial year ending March31, or around $200,000 more than in the previous financial year.

National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre chief executive Laurence Lien hopes Singaporeans will continue to support the smaller charities.

"The report showed that larger charities tend to get a larger portion of the total charity sector income, which then implies that smaller charities are not receiving enough help," he said.

The Commissioner of Charities said in the report that measures to improve financial transparency will kick in when the online Charity Portal is relaunched by the end of this year. Financial statements of all charities will be made available to the public on the portal.

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