Donate blood--not money!!

Singapore Red Cross Society, why can't you just concentrate on blood donation drives?

The latest news has the Red Cross lodged a police report against a admin assistant allegedly 'misappropriated' about $90.000! The Commissioner of Charities (COC) has advised the Singapore Red Cross not to conduct any fundraising activity.

However, upon checking the website of Singapore Red Cross Society, its page on "Financial Contribution | Make a donation to our local humanitarian services" is still available. Hmm...stubborn, huh? Or is it the word 'advise' taken a tad lightly?

Anyway, it may be an isolated case (No, we don't fancy to hear more cases of misappropriation of any admin assistants--how many do they have anyway?--in this Society). We don't want this noble Society to bleed to death, do we? Ha! Bad pun. Never mind. Just donate blood. You can do that every 3 months & you jolly well know that there's no such thing as 'blood being misappropriated'. Heh.

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) has advised the Singapore Red Cross not to conduct any fundraising activity until its internal investigation is completed and additional safeguards are put in place.

The advice came a day after the Red Cross issued a statement saying it had lodged a police report against a woman administrative assistant with the finance department who had allegedly misappropriated about $90,000.

The Red Cross said the problems were uncovered during internal checks on its accounts on 1 December. The discrepancies date back to February.

The COC also revealed that the Red Cross had earlier been selected to undergo a governance review in 2011.

This is an initiative to help charities and Institutions of Public Character (IPCs) to identify their governance gaps and to develop plans to address them.

The COC said this governance review on the Red Cross will be brought forward.

It reminded charities that they need to put in place proper internal controls and conduct regular checks to prevent misappropriation or misuse of funds.

Observers however said it is too early to judge if the case reveals a systemic fault or a one-off lapse.

Speaking to MediaCorp, corporate governance expert Mak Yuen Teen noted that such incident might occur "even in the best systems".

Dr Mak is an Associate Professor with the NUS Business School. He also sits on the board of the Charity Council.

He said: "The Red Cross is a fairly big organisation, so I guess we would expect them to have some basic controls or adequate internal controls in place. But having said that, even if you have those controls in place, sometimes they can be circumvented and so on. I think it's too early to tell, but at least the fact that this (alleged misappropriation) was picked up during an internal review tells me that part of that process is working."

From Channel NewsAsia, "Singapore Red Cross told to stop fundraising activity".

Update on 08/12: The Commissioner of Charities has clarified that the Singapore Red Cross is not prevented from receiving donations from its well-wishers and supporters. Ah. So that explains the still-functional link of the 'Financial Contribution' (screenshot above).

THE Singapore Red Cross Society has clarified that it can continue to receive donations from the public.

However, it has been advised against actively raising funds, for example in the form of direct mailers, charity bazaars and flag days.

This comes after a meeting between the society and the Commissioner of Charities (COC) yesterday.

The latter had earlier advised the Red Cross to stop all active fund-raising after an internal audit by the society last week revealed that an employee had allegedly misappropriated about $90,000 since February this year.

Red Cross, which is Singapore's lead relief agency, has since lodged a police report about the employee, who has been suspended from her duties.

It is also conducting internal investigations and reviews, and expects to submit a detailed report to the COC in the next two weeks.

From Straits Times, "Donations still allowed".


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