HWA was presented with the Charity Governance Award (Medium Category) 2014 on 13 November 2014.
The CGA recognises charities that have adopted the highest standards of governance. The CGA aims to promote good governance in the charity sector by acknowledging the excellent work of charities, while inspiring others to emulate best practices in governance. HWA received the award from the Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Chan Chun Sing, at the presentation ceremony held on 13 November 2014. More than 300 representatives from voluntary welfare organisations, representatives from MCCY and members of the Charity Council also attended the event.
HWA President Mr Edmund Wan said, “This recognition by the Charity Council is a testament to HWA’s 45 years of selfless service to people with disabilities in Singapore. It affirms our commitment to always maintain high standards of governance and to uphold public trust. This award will inspire us and provide us with the impetus to continue adopting better practices in governance. We hope to inspire others to raise the standards of governance and ethical practices in Singapore.” Mr Wan also shared about HWA’s governance practices at a panel discussion moderated by Professor Mak Yuen Tee from the NUS Business School.
Handicaps Welfare Association is a self-funded agency that raises funds to cover its operating costs. Thus, maintaining high public trust, donor confidence and ensuring transparency to our stakeholders are the guiding principles in our policies. We ensure that we comply with the Charity Council’s Code of Governance and maintain a sound corporate governance framework by continuously learning and adopting best industry practices and benchmarking our service quality against professional practices in the sector.
Strong Board Succession Planning
HWA’s Constitution mandates that only members with disabilities can serve in the Committee. Members who have experience in the social sector, in relevant corporate arenas and most importantly, have the passion to serve are encouraged to volunteer their time as Board members. When a potential candidate is identified, he is mentored and encouraged to serve in various sub-committees within the Association to allow them to learn, understand and experience the workings of HWA as a VWO. All new Committee members are orientated to the Mission and work of HWA, committee roles, responsibilities, protocols and procedures. Key board members who have ample experience in the Committee guide new members on HWA’s Constitution, financial management and control procedures, operating procedures across all departments, disclosure and transparency guidelines and corporate governance. New committee members are also sent for relevant training courses.
Effort to improve board effectiveness despite the constraints faced
As the Committee is running HWA on a voluntary basis, we foster a culture of transparency by clearly defining the ethical practices required of the Committee. The Committee is guided by a policy framework in its management of conflicts of interests. Duty of disclosure, procedures to address conflicts of interests, corrective actions to breaches as well as periodic reviews ensure that HWA maintains the trust of the public.
Uniformity of internal control and financial management
The Association reviews its Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) as and when required to ensure updates and uniformity of its processes, procedures and documentation. This enables us to maintain our service quality standards and adhere to best practices and compliance. Our Financial SOPs provide a comprehensive guideline for administration processes as well as check and balance for our Management and Committee members. The check and balance of the Association’s operations is also strengthened by regular Internal Audits and the annual External Audits.
Intricate ground-level feedback from staff and beneficiaries
A feedback and whistleblowing channel is also established between the Association’s Committee, the staff and its beneficiaries. Feedback from the management and staff are reflected to the board regularly via monthly staff meetings. Department heads also work very closely with their staff to give prompt feedback to their performance and rectify any operational issues. The Association is also very in-tuned with needs of the disabled community. We organize regular dialogue and feedback sessions with our beneficiaries and members to help us identify challenges they face and assist them accordingly. This also helps us reflect and improve the quality of our services continually. Members’ informal feedback are also taken into consideration and reflected to the board via our monthly staff meetings.
Staff development and training
As a VWO and as an Association that relies on public funding, staff are also required to uphold their personal integrity, conduct and professionalism in their work practices and processes. Senior Management staff determines the training needs of their staff and discuss the needs for skills improvement in their respective areas of work through regular reviews. All staff are encouraged to undergo continuous training for personal and professional development. All professional certified staff are encouraged to attend development courses so as to keep their practising certificates up-to-date and to keep updated on the latest developments or practices in their areas.