Title : Volunteer groups may soon be given ratings
By : Yvonne Cheong
Date : 27 July 2004

SINGAPORE : Volunteer groups in Singapore may soon be given ratings.

The National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre said this was one way to raise standards and ensure that people know where their money is going.

According to the taxman, Singaporeans donated $512 million to registered charities last year.

And although the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre has traditionally focused on getting people to volunteer their time, it has decided to pay more attention to donors' dollars this year.

Mr Willie Cheng, National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, said: "I think the public debate on informed giving is good. It is actually the next state on our evolution as a giving society. We are looking for givers to be more discerning and informed about what and who they give to, and where the money goes to. On the part of non-profit, we are also looking to incorporate better governances practices...I think rating is the next stage in the game."

On the volunteer front, little has changed.

About 15 percent of Singaporeans gave up their time to help volunteer groups in the past 12 months - nearly the same as the year earlier.

But this is still low compared to Hong Kong at 22 percent.

The reason for not volunteering has also not changed. Singaporeans say they just do not have the time.

The good news is - one in four young Singaporeans between the age of 15 and 24 did some sort of volunteer work in the past 12 months - a 47 percent increase from the year before.

And this figure does not include the community work made compulsory in school.

Mr Mervyn Sek, a youth volunteer, said: "When you take time off work to spend time with your family and friends, so we always find it that that's a reason for us to be away from work.

"So why don't take that time, spend it with your family and friends and do something meaningful in the process, and that's what I always do, I spend time with my family, I spend time with my friends and we do volunteer work."

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Community Development and Sports Minister, said: "As the national youth survey shows, youth participation in social groups generally falls after they turn 18 years old when they leave post-secondary education, and drops further when they enter the workforce. While this is hardly surprising, it should prompt us to examine how we can better engage youths." - CNA

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