THE animal shelter run by a woman who once sold her home to pay its rent is now a non-profit organisation (NPO).
Mdm Wong's Shelter, located in Pasir Ris Farmway 1, was run solely by retired seamstress Wong Koi Kim for the past 10 years - until volunteers came in to help with daily operations about a year ago.
Being registered as an NPO means that the shelter is publicly accountable for the use of its funds, said full-time volunteer Ray Yeh, 41.
This would earn trust among its donors and could translate into getting more donors - whose donations are needed for the upkeep of about 300 cats and 70 dogs at the shelter.
Its founder, Mrs Wong, 64, used to take in stray animals that her children picked up on the way home from school. Eventually, she set up an animal shelter in the late 1990s.
Nowadays, it is largely financially supported by her grownup son and daughter, who are still ardent animal lovers.
However, running the animal shelter is not cheap.
The wages of one foreign worker and rental fees for two blocks on the premises of Ericsson Pet Farm, the shelter's landlord, for instance, come up to more than $8,000 every month. That, plus food and medical fees, can rack up a total monthly expenditure of over $10,000.
"Now that we are registered, I hope that more people will get to know about the shelter and chip in to help," Mrs Wong told my paper.
Eventually, the volunteers want the shelter to be registered as a full-fledged charity.
NPOs that are not registered as charity organisations under the National Council of Social Service are not allowed to raise funds from non-members.
Their accounts must be audited by a certified public accountant for three years, before they can submit an application for charity status.
Nevertheless, Mr Ricky Yeo, founder and president of Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) - a registered society - believes that getting the charity status presents more challenges for the NPO.
Becoming a charity organisation is a springboard to becoming an Institution of a Public Character (IPC), which can grant tax-exempt donations to its donors.
However, the IPC status is very difficult to attain in the animal- welfare environment, observed Mr Yeo, 42.
He said: "It's like a 'limbo' status.
Only organisations with IPC status will attract big donors like corporations.
"But a charity must spend a certain percentage of its funds on its beneficiaries by the end of the year, or it'll be taxed.
"This leaves small groups like ASD with very little savings, if we are to become a charity."