Questions on Managing Funds & Governance
Is Project Happy Feet a registered organisation?
Yes, PHF is registered with the Singapore government on 7 July 2009 as a Public Company Limited by Guarantee and operates under the approved name of “PROJECT HAPPY FEET LIMITED”. Its registration number is 200912230H and has as its business address: 1 Jalan Pisang, #02-01, Singapore 199069. You can find this information online by visiting Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) website.
What is a Public Company Limited by Guarantee?
According to Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), a Public Company Limited by Guarantee is defined as “usually not a trading company but one which carries out non-profit making activities that have some basis of national or public interest, such as for promoting art, science or charity etc. The Minister may approve the registration of the company without the addition of the word ‘Limited’ or ‘Berhad’ to its name.”
Why is Project Happy Feet not registered as a Charity?
PHF is not registered as a Charity in Singapore because charity status is only accorded to an organisation whose work primarily supports a local cause. PHF’s primary mission is to support education and training of underprivileged children and youths, especially in developing countries. Also, because PHF has no resources to manage its own education and training related programmes overseas or in Singapore, it is currently focusing its work on fund-raising to support such programmes run by credible organisations. As such, in the eyes of the Singapore government, its actives (which are mainly fund-raising), cannot be considered “charitable acts” – even though 100% of funds collected are given to beneficiaries. In the same light, PHF cannot be accorded Institute of Public Character, or IPC, status because its activities must benefit the community of Singapore.
(PLEASE NOTE: Just because PHF is set up primarily to support overseas causes, it does not mean that PHF does not support underprivileged children and youths in Singapore. In fact, because of the 80-20 rule of foreign fund-raising, 80% of all our public fund-raising appeals go towards Singaporean causes.)
How does Project Happy Feet collect funds?
PHF organises fund-raising events or projects to generate funds required by our beneficiaries for the following year. These fund-raising events could either be public ones (such as our Chefs for a Cause or Project Happy Feet Slipper Race) or private ones (such as those organised by and within private groups).
For public fund-raising events, in accordance with the Charities Act in Singapore, 80% of the funds are channeled to a Singapore beneficiary, while the remaining 20% is channeled to our overseas beneficiaries. These beneficiaries are always identified at the start of the fund-raising project.
For private fund-raising projects, in accordance with the Charities Act in Singapore, the full 100% of the funds are channeled to our overseas beneficiaries. These beneficiaries are always identified at the start of the fund-raising project.
Besides the above, PHF also receives donations by generous donors. These are pooled into our general donation fund, which allows us to disburse the funds to our beneficiaries that need help at any point in time during the year. So far, some of these funds have been used to fund nutrition programmes in schools that have run short of funds, or to fund scholarships to students who have suddenly risk dropping out of school due to family crisis such as death or critical illness.
How are the donated funds in Project Happy Feet managed?
For public-fund raising appeals, 100% of the funds raised are disbursed as soon as possible to the identified beneficiaries at the end of the appeal period. In accordance with the Charities Act in Singapore, the accounts for such appeals are always audited and submitted accordingly to the Commissioner of Charities.
For private-fund raising projects, we work with the fund-raising group to decide how best to disburse the funds to the identified beneficiaries. Usually, this involves purchasing items that the beneficiaries require, or funding of scholarships.
Cash is never given to the benefiting individuals. Instead, where cash is required, it is given to bona fide organisations that help us manage the funds. Proof of purchase/receipt of payment is always asked for by PHF to ensure that funds are used as they were intended to be used.
PHF follows up regularly with its partner NGOs to obtain updates of its beneficiaries, to do its audit checks as well as to understand the most current needs on the ground.
Does any of the donated money go towards covering PHF’s operational costs?
No. PHF is run fully by volunteers who do not get any form of monetary remuneration for the work they do. When we make our trips overseas to perform audit checks on the NGOs we support, we pay for our own airfare, food and lodging using our personal funds. This ensures 100% of the funds raised through donations and our fund-raising projects go towards the beneficiaries.
How does PHF cover its operational costs?
PHF covers its operational costs through the sale of merchandise like notebooks, T-shirts, post-cards, the Recipes from the Heart cookbook, and HAPPY, the collectible toy. Volunteers also provide expert services such as design services at a minimal cost with 100% of the earnings going to PHF. These help cover the operational costs of PHF which includes: auditor’s fees for fund raising projects and our annual reports, postage, stationery and printing of marketing collaterals.