Progress & Growth
In 2021 we widened our scope of services and were able to serve more charities, surpassing the number in 2019 and 2020. Data Protection as a Service for small charities was added to our suite of services. The personal data protection and procedures for review of IT general controls was also revised and updated. The team completed 155 projects for 66 clients through extensive outreach efforts to overcome the slowdown resulting from coronavirus conditions.
More client charities engaged our services on a 3-year plan which encourages us to think they have begun to value governance as beneficial to operational effectiveness. Embedding robust practices into day-to-day operations should strengthen resilience and support transparency that builds trust.
Clients Seek Core and New Services
Internal Control reviews remained our core activity, contributing 44% of programme fees with Policy and Procedure Manuals being our second most requested service. Together, they form the mainstay of governance activities, and this is reflected in the proportion of services provided by SSC.
Personal data protection, being a legal requirement, also gained in demand whilst risk management is slowly gaining ground as providing useful perspective for both board and management. The response rate to Data Protection as a Service (DPaaS) was very positive. This service which we had developed in 2020 was crafted specifically for small charities seeking to comply with data protection regulations under the Personal Data Protection Act. SSC was recognised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority as a white-listed supplier of data protection consultancy through predefined services. Small and medium-sized charities could receive 100% funding under the IMDA-NCSS (Infocomm Media Development Agency and National Council of Social Services) umbrella.
As a whitelisted agency, we set out boldly to engage as many charities as possible and attracted 29 charities as a result. We had hoped to do better, nevertheless the service made a significant contribution and introduced us to 19 charities. We learned more about this group of clients, and we were able to extend our reach to both new and existing clients.
In 2021, we also had the privilege to partner with MCCY Charities to offer free consultation clinics to charities in the areas of governance, policies & procedures, risk management and internal controls to strengthen their operational capabilities.
With the aim of professionalising the charity sector, the Commissioner of Charities had grouped 10 organisations to work with, in setting up shared services to strengthen charities’ regulatory compliance and effectiveness. We received enquiries from new charities because of this initiative.
Despite the prolonged presence of COVID, there was a pick-up in internal audit activity. Charities having satisfied safe distancing priorities and found alternative ways to deliver essential services, were now able to resume working with SSC. Services with SSC that had been postponed could now resume and new contracts were also initiated.
Working from home challenged our ability to communicate with quality. Limited access to many of our clients’ offices called for some flexibility and an innovative approach to making our work possible.
Like many other audit and accounting firms, we were faced with a declining pool of foreign talent amidst the already competitive labour market. Attracting and retaining staff continued to be a challenge and much team effort was required to manage the high volume of projects requested of us. The number of volunteers shrank, understandably and is likely to only recover as the health threat declines. SSC would like to record our appreciation of our staff who have not spared themselves in managing and executing on the volume of work done.
Tapping on Opportunities
As a service organisation, we constantly review our products to align with charity needs. The experience of creating DPaaS for small charities sparked ideas for a policy `bundle’ for new charities. More work will be put into developing this project in the coming year.
Staff training to stay up to date with professional standards was mostly done on the virtual platform. We began quarterly `learning’ sessions with half-day talks and workshops from specialists. Going virtual allowed company-wide participation. Individual-centred training and career development continues to be the guiding principle. Professional development of staff contributes significantly to quality of service.
While staffing remains key, partnerships are also important. Partners bring resources that allow charities like us to widen our reach. Aside from donations from sponsors like SGX, we are also supported by professionals who volunteer their services to augment that of the in-house team. Owing to the covid pandemic, we received fewer volunteers in 2021. However, we are hopeful that the situation will improve as easing measures set in. We look forward to forging more partnerships in the year ahead.
Revenue was up 60% at $490,380 compared with $307,837 in 2020, driven by progressive adjustment to a pandemic environment, and strong demand for the new Data Protection as a Service (DPAAS) programme initiated by IMDA as a one-off service to small charities. DPAAS contributed to 20% of the total revenue.
Total expenditure at $1,190,083 represented an increase of 25% from 2020 as we had the full-year impact of new hires from 2020. Employment cost contributed 80% of the total expenditure. Average number of employees for 2021 was 14 (2020: 12).
Grants and donations received amounted to $735,496 for 2021. The Bicentennial Community Fund (BCF) of $400,000 was the largest single grant received. We continue to receive donations from SGX Bull Charge Charity Run who has journeyed with us throughout. We also received funds from the President’s Challenge.
We invested in Salesforce CRM software to centralise our database and improve data management. We will be evaluating an online accounting software to complement the Salesforce CRM with efficiency in invoicing and accuracy of data.
Our cash balance stood at $868,000 at the end of 2021 which equates to a cash ratio of 0.7 against total expenditure.
Our financial priorities for 2022 will be to perform the services we have agreed to undertake and improve our cash ratio to 1:1. We begin the year with contracts valued at over $500,000. We intend to expand our team to meet these needs and give more attention to fund-raising activities.
We would like to acknowledge Mr Thanabalan Ladamuthu (who passed away in November 2021) for his contribution as a member of the Audit Committee. Bala conscientiously and steadfastly kept up his commitment to SSC despite his serious health challenges. We appreciate all he has done for us.
We would also like to thank our previous Board members, Mr Yeoh Oon Jin, Mr Eric Lim and Ms Sheila Wang for their invaluable advice and contribution brought to SSC. At the same time, we welcome Mr Choo Eng Beng who joined our Board on 30 August 2021.
We thank, as well, our volunteers and partner organisations for their generous support.