‘What is IPC?’ and ‘Will it change Aidha?’ are two questions that constantly pop up when I meet mentors, volunteers and employers on Sundays at campus.
In the charity space, achieving IPC (Institution of Public Character) status is like receiving a gold star in school. On the Charity portal, IPCs are identified as registered charities which are able to issue tax deductible receipts to donors. As this generally makes IPCs more appealing to donors– especially in a small city like Singapore where over 2 ,000 charities compete in the same donor pool – they are held to a much higher standard of regulatory compliance as well as governance.
Additionally, the activities of an IPC must be ‘beneficial to the community in Singapore as a whole and not confined to sectional interests or group of persons based on race, creed, belief or religion’. Previously, Aidha had been told the true impact of its work was not felt in Singapore but in the respective countries of our students when they returned home. This year, however, we made a case for the very real benefits our financial literacy and self-development programmes bring to the FDWs, local employers, expats and volunteer community who work and reside here. This involved several long and stressful months of interviewing people, garnering support and testimonials, and answering many queries from the Ministry of Social and Family Development, our sector regulators. Then finally, without fuss or funfare, the email arrived in my Inbox late on the evening of 24 April to say that ‘Aidha ‘had been approved as an IPC from 15/04/15 to 30/04/16’. Those precious three little words every charity wants to hear!
Will IPC change Aidha’s focus, away from foreign domestic workers to helping local low-income women instead? Not at all. From its inception, Aidha’s focus has always been the empowerment of low-income women, be they from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Myanmar or Singapore. While we may have begun as a pilot programme for foreign domestic workers under Singapore UNIFEM (now UN Women), once Aidha was officially formed as an independent charity in 2006, it had always been the intention of the co-founders and Board to give all less privileged women the same opportunity to improve their lives. As a Singapore-registered organisation, it is reasonable that we should integrate closely with the local community in which we work and operate. As the old saying goes, ‘charity begins at home’. While it is hard to believe that there are low-income women in this seemingly wealthy society, our discussions with potential partner organisations in the last couple of months have shown that, alarmingly, there are many pockets of local women who struggle with the same challenges of poverty that our foreign domestic worker students do. At the heart of it, every mother in the world, no matter where she may live or work, wants to improve the life of her family and her children. It is Aidha’s aim to help any low-income woman walking through the doors of Aidha towards a brighter, more sustainable future, despite her race, nationality or religion
Please hurry to take advantage of the generous tax rebate of 300% for every donation you make to Aidha between now and 31 Dec, when SG50 ends. For every $1 you donate to Aidha, $3 will be deducted from your taxable income for the year. What better way to support your favourite charity and benefit at the same time – truly a win-win outcome if ever there was one!