How to Start a Nonprofit Organization in Singapore

Cersai Stark

Cersai Stark

Serving the pressing needs of communities is what characterizes Singapore’s nonprofit industry. Hence, discovering a community need should be the primary emphasis when seeking how to start a nonprofit. 

Also, NPOs (Nonprofit Organizations) must be acquainted with the probable obstacles that may prevent them from having a bigger impact.

In this article, we will outline the registration guidelines for establishing a nonprofit in Singapore.


How to start a nonprofit
How to start a nonprofit


  • NPOs may not operate daily in a manner akin to a private limited company
  • All members must declare their approval to establish the nonprofit following the conditions of the constitution
  • NPOs primarily serve the public interest and they are accountable to the public

What makes a nonprofit different from a company?

Generally speaking, a nonprofit in Singapore can be incorporated in the same way as a private limited company. There is however a key distinction that characterizes an NPO. Though a nonprofit is typically incorporated as a company limited by guarantee, it is not necessary to have an issued and paid-up share capital.

Hence, an NPO, as the name implies, is a company that doesn’t make a profit or gives leftover funds from its operations to its clients.

What are the guidelines on how to start a nonprofit in Singapore?

To begin with, we will outline the processes required to establish your nonprofit. Also, we will expound on each of them in detail. 

1. Reserve the name of your nonprofit

The first thing to do in your journey of incorporating your nonprofit is to submit an early application with the ACRA to reserve your organization’s name. Altogether, this helps secure your nonprofit standing especially since the name can be held for up to 90 days.

However, you must decide on the intended name and the proposed primary activities before submitting the name application.

Also, the ACRA’s online site will require SingPass for access. If you don’t have SingPass, you can contact reputable companies to help you with the application for a small price.

2. Choose your members, trustees, or directors 

Generally, one member is necessary as the minimum number. For public companies limited by guarantee, there must be at least one director. Private limited companies on the other hand must have at least a citizen who resides in Singapore as one of their directors.

Likewise, a company secretary is required for NPOs, just like it is for a resident director. The company secretary generally makes sure the business complies with Singaporean laws.  The secretary also informs the board of directors, members, auditors, and tax agents of any upcoming statutory deadlines.

3. Draft your Single-Document Constitution 

The single-document constitution is also one crucial aspect to consider when seeking how to start a nonprofit. Basically, the document contains the business name, the full names, addresses, and occupations of each member of the firm. In addition, the single document must outline a clause stating that if the business fails, the members must contribute up to a specific amount. This is however only applicable to companies limited by guarantee. 

Also, all members must declare their approval to establish the nonprofit following the conditions of the constitution. Other terminology in addition to these basic ones includes the selection and dismissal of directors and the obligations and authority of directors. 

4. Recruit Auditors 

NPOs primarily serve the public interest. Hence, they are accountable to the public and are required to prepare audited financial statements. Within three months of the company’s incorporation, auditors should be recruited.

5. Get a registered address 

Although a registered office is required, the registered office doesn’t need to have the same location as the organization. This is because NPOs may not operate daily in a manner akin to a private limited company.

However, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, the registered office must be available to the general public for a least three hours each day during regular business hours.

6. Register your nonprofit 

This is the final step to consider when establishing your organization. Therefore, individuals seeking how to start a nonprofit must observe the aforementioned guideline before registering. For NPOs that intend to engage in fundraising activities, the organization must register with the Commissioner of Charities within three months from the date of incorporation. 

Likewise, nonprofits need to apply for Institutions of a Public Character (IPC) status for donors to make tax-deductible donations. All things considered, a charity that receives IPC status is typically also obligated to reveal its fund-raising data. Afterward, the country will officially recognize the NGO as an incorporated nonprofit.


Nonprofits may not be required to compulsory register with regulatory bodies. However, several benefits come with incorporating your organization. One such is obtaining “charitable status” and, as a result, being exempt from paying income tax.

Do you intend to use your business skills, knowledge, and experience to benefit people or the environment? You can begin by following these step-by-step guides on how to start a nonprofit in Singapore. 

If you enjoyed reading this article, do let us know by sharing your comments and suggestions with us at the bottom of this post.

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