A Simple Guide of Starting a Non-profit Organization in Singapore

Starting a Non-profit Organization in Singapore

Starting a Non-Profit Organization in Singapore is one of the best ways to give back to society.

Starting a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) in Singapore is the perfect way to start your noble quest. It helps you grow as a person while committing to activities that are of public interest or social value. NPOs aim not to make a profit or surplus but rather to make a positive difference in society. Excess is usually funded back into the organization for its other activities.

Singapore is strongly focused on being a key financial service hub. Its economic governance promotes both transparency and accountability. Along with committed government support and an unshakeable global presence, Singapore is perfect for NPOs and their causes.


NPOs in Singapore

NPOs or Voluntary Welfare Organizations (VWOs) are legally constituted. Registration is not mandatory but preferred as it facilitates tax exemptions and inspires stakeholder confidence. It also makes it possible for NPOs to enter into contractual agreements.

There are three types of NPOs in Singapore with different requirements for incorporation.

The most basic NPO is a Society, which is suitable for volunteers or membership. They are easy and inexpensive to set up but lack formal structure, which may deter stakeholders.

A Charitable Trust is an NPO administered by a board of trustees and a trust deed. It champions a purpose rather than benefitting specific individuals. They are expensive and time-consuming to set up but have more formal structures. Both a Society and a Charitable Trust have no separate legal identity.

By far, the most popular type of NPO in Singapore is a Public Company Limited by Guarantee. This NPO has a separate legal identity, and members have limited liability. However, its annual reporting and accounts are more complex.

As a quick guide, to set up your NPO, you need to:

  • Apply or reserve the NPO’s name with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)
  • Have at least one member/director/trustee
  • Appoint a Company Secretary and Auditors
  • Draft Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Get a registered office address
  • Register with the relevant government bodies


Doing Your Bit for Charity

All NPOs are self-governed and exist independently of the government. Registered NPOs can apply for charitable status for full tax exemption. NPOs with charitable status can also apply for an Institution of Public Character (IPC) status. IPCs are usually charities or sports associations, and their activities are beneficial to the community as a whole. For more detailed information, check out Singapore Government’s page on setting up charities or IPCs.

Incorporation and registration of NPOs are just one part of the start-up. The next step is to look at funding, publicity, etc. Fundraising is an essential part of an NPO and can be acquired via funds from the public, sponsorship from corporations and grants from governments.

To do so, specific licenses and permits must be obtained. Whether you’re going door-to-door, holding a public event or getting a sports grant, check out the Singapore Government’s charities page for rules and details.

Starting an NPO in Singapore can seem daunting. Rest assured that 3E Accounting associate, with its tried and tested track record, can help you with the process seamlessly.

Contact 3E Accounting today for the confidence to pursue your dreams.

Starting a Non-profit Organization in Singapore