About the Charity
aLife offers support to women and their families on pregnancy issues and reproductive health, and provides educational opportunities for children from low-income and dysfunctional families in Singapore
7 VITAL SIGNS
Vital Sign 1: Financial Health
Ratio of Liabilities to Assets
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This ratio tells us how much of the charity’s assets come from borrowing money or other sources of debt. The lower the number, the more financially strong the charity.
Based on our analysis, the low ratio is indicative of its excellent financial strength
The charity is in a strong financial position to pay off its debts as it falls due.
The charity has been accumulating cash, which is a good sign for its short term financial health
Working Capital Ratio
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“If the charity’s short-term debts suddenly become due immediately, will it be able to pay them”?
A ratio higher than 1 means that the charity has enough liquid assets like cash that can be used to meet its short term debts. The higher the ratio, the more resilient the charity is.
Increase in Cash and equivalents
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This tells us about the financial health of the charity. No matter how much surplus the charity makes, it is likely to collapse if it runs out of cash to pay its bills. A positive value is a healthy indicator
Net Surplus over 3 years
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“How much surplus did the charity have at the end of the year, subtracting its expenses?”
While charities are non-profits, a financially healthy charity should still carry over some surplus each year to grow its reserves. This is important, so that the charity can continue to run even if its funding sources are affected.
A charity that continues running deficits yearly would deplete its reserves and be unsustainable in the long run
While this charity incurred a net deficit in 2018 and 2019, it accumulated sufficient reserves in the previous years to absorb the deficit, such that the overall balance remains positive. However, the financial health has improved from 2018 to 2020, during which the deficit eventually turned into a surplus.
The charity's reduced programme spending due to cost savings from virtual campaigns and online programmes contributed to the surplus in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This charity is financially sound, and has been carrying over a surplus every year in order to maintain enough reserves.
The sharp increase in 2020 was due to the curtailment of many of its activities as a result of the pandemic. As a result, its expenses fell, and it was able to retain more of its income to be carried over to 2021. However, some of the surplus will have to be returned to various social welfare funds, as they were not spent in 2020.
The pandemic is a timely reminder of the importance of maintaining enough surplus, so that the charity has enough money to meet exigencies if they are suddenly unable to fundraise and generate income.
Vital Sign 2: Sources of Income
Charities receive money from a variety of sources which include public donations, grants and government contracts. What are this charity’s sources of income over the years?
Sources of Income in 2018-2020
What do these mean?
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This includes public cash donations, and non-cash gifts in kind by the public
This charity generates some income from childcare fees it charges in running its childcare services.
A significant proportion (27.97%) of the charity’s income comes from voluntary donations from the public.
Prior to 2019, fundraising activities are the main source of income for aLife.
However, since 2019, funds generated from fundraising activities only account for a relatively small proportion of its income. This is largely due to the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly reduced the number of physical fundraising activities.
Instead, aLife has been increasingly reliant on government grants as its dominant source of income. This is likely only temporary, since aLife would ramp up its fundraising efforts once restrictions on such activities are lifted.
This include social welfare grants from various sources such as the government, Tote Board, Community Chest etc.
aLife was able to harness government grants to supplement its income stream to finance its various social initiatives.
Donations raised by aLife are matched dollar-for-dollar by the Government through the Care and Share Matching Fund. It also receives the VCF ICT grant that provides co-funding for charities to harness info-communication technology to facilitate the submission of returns and transactions to the charity portal. Moreover, its various educational and counselling programs aimed at empowering children from low-income and disadvantaged families are subsidised by the Community Chest Fund.
The amount of funding from these sources has risen quite significantly since 2018, which is a sign of financial stability
This includes income not recognized in the categories above, including interest earned from keeping cash in the bank.
aLife continues to draw a small but steady stream of investment income from its fixed deposit account.
Sources of Income in 2020 - Our Analysis
aLife received $227,242 from various social welfare grants. This represented 55.5% of its total income for the year. The large amount of grants received indicates community and government recognition and support of the charitable work done by aLife.
Despite being supported by grants, a significant portion (almost 28%) is derived from public donations, which has appreciably increased from the preceding year.
Vital Sign 3: Sources of Expenditure
Charities spend money on various sources including their charitable programmes, staff expenses, administrative costs, etc. What are the biggest contributor's to the charity's spending over the years?
For this charity, the major contributors of expenses were fundraising and programme expenses, as well as salary expenses
Fundraising expenditure declined significantly since 2019.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, aLife’s fundraising efforts have been mostly limited to digital campaigns, which include raising awareness and appealing for donations to ensure the smooth day-to-day operation and implementation of its social initiatives and programs. The digital campaigns incur negligible administrative overheads.
The number significantly decreased from 2018 to 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many charitable programmes such as the Caterpillar Club have to be conducted online and this explains the dip in programme expenditure in 2020.
The restructuring efforts undertaken by the charity to optimise its resource allocation and reduce operational overheads had led to some fluctuations in staff expenses from 2018 to 2020.
The slight dip in staffing cost in 2020 can be attributed to the dwindling headcount of para-counsellors for its counselling program and its greater reliance on contract staff and part-timers as opposed to full-time staff. The rising staffing costs from 2018 to 2019 was in part caused by the increment to its employees' salaries.
Sources of Expenditure in 2020 - Our Analysis
Expenditure on fundraising was minimal this year, due to restrictions on fundraising brought by the pandemic.
The fluctuation in salary expenses reflects the ongoing personnel reshuffling that the charity has undertaken to reap cost-savings by eliminating redundancy and to improve synergy of its management staff. This is indicative of its adaptability and versatility amidst the uncertainty created by the pandemic.
We anticipate that in the future, with the lifting of activity restrictions imposed by COVID-19 measures, the charity’s expenses will likely increase, as more programmes are conducted in-person. The charity will continue to require more income to sustain its operations and serve its beneficiaries.
Vital Sign 4: Fundraising Efficiency
“How much does the charity spend in raising donations from the public?"
The lower the figure, the more efficient the charity is in raising public donations. A lower number is generally a positive sign, as it means less wasted costs in fundraising.
Fundraising Efficiency over the years
The fundraising efficiency improved significantly from 2018 to 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a positive sign since it means that less costs are incurred on fundraising efforts.
The enhanced efficiency is attributable to substantial cost savings arising from its change of fundraising strategy. Due to the pandemic, most of its fundraising and awareness campaigns were conducted virtually. This contributed to the reduction of overheads, since physical campaigns are invariably more costly. Meanwhile, aLife was able to maintain a relatively stable voluntary income stream by appealing for donations online and leveraging digital campaigns.
Vital Sign 5: Spending on
“What proportion of the charity's spending goes to direct outcomes?"
We are interested in knowing how much of our donation goes to the actual beneficial outcomes that beneficiaries enjoy. The greater the figure, the more likely every dollar we donate directly goes to benefitting the charity's beneficiaries.
For aLife, there has been a reduction in the proportion of spending on charitable programmes over the 3 years. The decline is caused by a sharp reduction of programme cost brought about by the migration of its activities to the digital sphere, which allowed the charity to reap greater cost-efficiency.
The staff at aLife is able to carry out activities online without incurring additional programme costs, resulting in a lower proportion of funds spent on direct outcomes.
For example, for the programme Caterpillar Club, aLife no longer has to purchase decorations, food and gifts for the participants as the programme has moved online.
As such, this reduction can be seen as a positive sign as aLife is able to reduce its expenditure on direct outcomes without compromising on its programme offerings.
Vital Sign 4: Fundraising Efficiency
Vital Sign 6: Benefit Received per Beneficiary
"How many beneficiaries did the charity help?"
In assessing how impactful a charity is, it is always useful to look at how many beneficiaries benefitted from the charity. This also helps to put the charity's needs and expenses in perspective - a charity that provides more services, or serves more beneficiaries would naturally require more donations and funding.
Monthly, aLife supports about 10 women and their families confronted with unplanned and unsupported pregnancy through its Support for Unplanned Pregnancies Resource Facilitation (SUPeRF) programme
aLife Mothers' Assistance (ALMA) supports up to 100 low-income mothers and their families yearly with basic necessities for their newborns
aLife provides a suite of marriage preparation course to support healthy and lasting marriages, including"Marriage 101", "Marriage Actually" courses
Vital Sign 7: Non-Financial Needs
"Apart from donations, how else can I support this charity?"
aLife is looking for donations-in-kind that will be helpful to support young families with children.
Brand new items, like toiletries (including those catered for children with eczema), vitamins for children, mattresses
If you are keen to donate, please contact aLife at https://www.alife.org.sg/donate
before sending in your items