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NUS Social Work launches books on thought leadership and financial accounting for Singapore’s charity sector

15 April 2019 | General News
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Panel of experts discuss pertinent issues on future readiness and best practices in financial accounting

Governance and public accountability of charities in Singapore are critical as mismanagement can have serious ramifications. Organisational capacity and capability are also important areas to focus on as they are key to helping charities adapt to the future and serve the community.

These are crucial areas that the National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Social Work’s Centre for Social Development Asia (CSDA) hopes to address in two new sets of books that they have produced for charities in Singapore. The publications were launched today at the ‘Doing Good Better in Singapore’ event which was attended by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, and representatives from local charities and voluntary welfare organisations. 

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NUS Department of Social Work’s Centre for Social Development Asia launched two sets of books for Singapore’s charity sector, in the presence of Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development (tenth from left).

The publications are produced in collaboration with the Charity Council and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). The editors of the books are: Senior Research Fellow Dr Isabel Sim from the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; Associate Professor Alfred Loh from NUS Business School; and Mr Teo Chee Khiang, a retired professor from NUS Business School. Supported by a research grant from CIMA, the following publications feature insights from academics, regulators, accountants and leaders from non-profit organisations on the areas of capacity and capability building, as well as accounting and financial best practices for charities:

  1. Doing Good in Singapore: Part 1 – Adapting to the Future, and Doing Good in Singapore: Part 2 – Resourcing for the Future
  2. Accounting and Finance Handbooks for Charities

Dr Gerard Ee, Chairman of the Charity Council, said, “The charity’s board and their senior management must always be mindful that as stewards, they have the responsibility to stay effective, relevant and sustainable, to properly discharge their commitments to the various stakeholders. Apart from operational capabilities and efficiency, it is important that charities reflect and adapt to the changing landscape, to remain relevant. These two sets of publications are resources for the charities to think about longer term needs of the community they serve, so that they can make plans to build up their organisations’ capacity and capability.” 

Doing Good in Singapore Part 1 – Adapting to the Future, and Doing Good in Singapore Part 2 – Resourcing for the Future

Due to a radically transforming society arising from a rapidly ageing population, changing family structures and rising expectations, amongst other factors, Singapore’s social service sector faces a challenging future. Social service organisations need to transform, adapt, and develop core competencies to remain relevant to deliver services to people for the future. 

CSDA has engaged thought leaders including Dr Gerard Ee, Chairman of the Charity Council; Dr S Vasoo, Chairman of CSDA and Associate Professorial Fellow at the NUS Department of Social Work; and Mr Sim Gim Guan, CEO of the National Council of Social Service, for their insights on how the social service sector can prepare itself to meet social needs and future challenges, such as dealing with an ageing population. These valuable insights are published in the Doing Good in Singapore Handbook. 

Doing Good in Singapore: Part 1 — Adapting to the Future explores the ways in which the social service sector can adapt to the future in order to serve growing needs. Doing Good in Singapore: Part 2 — Resourcing for the Future, extends the discussion by focusing on specific ways in which social service organisations can develop organisational competencies, build capacity and capability to tackle the rising social challenges as well as implement social services that will have high social impact.

Dr S Vasoo, Chairman of CSDA, said “Doing Good in Singapore Parts 1 and 2 were written to document the various challenges faced by the social service sector through the various case studies provided. It provides social insight and aims to encourage further discussions amongst stakeholders on the sector’s preparation for future-readiness as well as share ideas on how to build up core competencies and develop sustainable and proactive practices to build up social and human capital.”

Accounting and Finance Handbooks for Charities

Accounting and Finance Handbooks for Charities is a series of five booklets which is aimed at providing guidance to charities in Singapore on topics including budgeting and cash flow management, fund accounting, cost-effective audit, reserves and investment and full cost recovery. It was developed in consultation with charities and written by professional accountants. Targeted at Board members, management and staff of charities, especially those without financial training, it provides a step-by-step guide for charities on best accounting and financial practices, and includes applied examples and interviews with various charities. The handbooks will serve as a useful resource for charities to better manage their financial operations, and help ensure greater transparency and accountability to their stakeholders.

Dr Noel Tagoe, Executive Vice President, Academics, of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), said, “The Accounting and Finance Handbooks for Charities is a one-stop resource for the charity sector. It is very easy to use as it provides step-by-step guidance on key charity accounting and finance topics. CIMA has provided support for this project and commends CSDA’s initiative to help charities to be on the path of sustainable development and hopes that this timely publication can contribute to building a stronger charity sector in Singapore.”

Digital copies of the two sets of books will be available from 30 April 2019 at the Charity Council website https://www.charitycouncil.org.sg/.

Panel sessions on future readiness and best practices in financial accounting

In conjunction with the launch of the books, the event also featured two panel sessions with experts from Singapore’s charity sector and the accounting industry. 

The first panel session, “Transforming the Singapore Charity Sector – Leading Towards Future Readiness”, addressed topics related to the trends and challenges faced in the charity sector, and the transformation that the sector needs. Expert panellists Dr Ang Hak Seng, Commissioner of Charities; Mr Sim Gim Guan, CEO of National Council of Social Service; and Mr Tim Oei, CEO of National Kidney Foundation, provided key insights on the overview of the sector and how charities should resource and adapt to the future. The session was moderated by Ms Peh Kim Choo, CEO of the Tsao Foundation.

The other panel session, “Best Practices in Accounting and Finance for the Charity Sector”, focused on topics such as fund accounting, cost-effective audit, reserves and investment, as well as full cost recovery. Joining Ms Choo Shiu Ling, CEO of Assisi Hospice, in the discussion were accounting experts Ms Susan Foong, Partner of Baker Tilly; Ms Woo E-Sah, Partner of RSM; and Mr Simon Ng, Deputy President of CFA Society Singapore. The session was moderated by Dr Gerard Ee. Panellists highlighted the pertinent issues faced by charities and demonstrated the importance of good accounting and finance practices. 
 

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