SINGAPORE - Getting common services such as cleaning at discounted rates or for free through the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), saved welfare groups nearly half a million dollars over six months last year.
They cut $487,000 in costs from April to September last year (first half of FY2013) by using the NCSS Common Services.
At this rate, the amount saved for the last financial year ending 2013 is likely to surpass the record $815,000 saved the year before.
The services, in areas such as printing and provisions, are offered to help the 400-plus voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) under NCSS achieve better efficiency and savings.
Currently, 25 service providers offer discounts and free help to these voluntary groups.
The top three services with the highest cost savings in the first half of the last financial year are financial audit services ($169,000), information technology hardware purchases ($113,000), and governance consultancy services ($84,000).
The top two services used by VWOs are insurance and audit services.
Lions Befrienders Service Association, which runs a befriending scheme for the elderly and senior activity centres, used audit, insurance and human resource services from participating vendors.
"We not only benefited from their professional service but also managed to save money as their audit fees were more affordable than those of our previous auditor," executive director Goh Boo Han said of the audit firm it engaged.
It is also easier to procure services through NCSS as VWOs need only look through a list of vendors who had agreed to offer their services pro bono or at cheaper rates, said a spokesman for the association.
One of the participating vendors is audit firm Fiducia, which serves about 50 organisations under NCSS and offers them discounts of 15 per cent to 25 per cent.
Managing partner Wayne Soo said: "Helping the social services sector is in line with our firm's values. This also helps to improve VWOs' quality of governance and lead to more donations."
With a growing demand from VWOs, more vendors and services are needed. Ms Quek Boon Kien, NCSS director of fund allocation and VWO benefits, said the council is getting feedback on offering other services which will cater to the needs of welfare groups.
By offering greater cost savings to VWOs through the Common Services, NCSS helps them channel their savings to serve their clients better, she added.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.