FINZ

Charities Services: Sector Group Report 1 September 2021

On 1 September 2021, the Charities Sector Group (SG) met online via Zoom. 16 sector leaders and specialist professionals (listed below) met with staff from Charities Services, Hāpai Hapori and the Policy Group in the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) to discuss matters of common interest. This followed a sector only meeting on 30 August 2021.

The purpose of this document is to communicate some of the points of discussion during the SG and allow members to communicate the discussions to their member organisations.

Charities Services update 

Natasha Weight, General Manager of Charities Services gave a brief update, based on questions that had come up in the sector meeting the previous day.

Natasha thanked everyone for all their efforts during the lockdown, noting the significant role charities played in both response, and maintaining social cohesion.

She explained the difference between Charities Services and Hāpai Hapori, both based in the Department of Internal Affairs – Service Delivery and Operations branch.

Natasha noted Charities Services is the charities regulator in New Zealand that took over most of the functions that were once carried out by the Charities Commission. We work closely with a three-person independent board, Te Rāta Atawhai, the Charities Registration Board, that makes all decisions about registration and deregistration of charities. We compile the Charities Register, a register of all charities in Aotearoa.

DIA’s Hāpai Hapori Community Operations has advisory teams based all around the country, and administers a number of government grants and funds, including Lottery funding.

She also noted there were Policy group members present – part of a different area of the Department, and responsible for the modernisation of the Charities Act work.

Natasha then gave a brief update about what Charities Services were doing during lockdown:

  • Charities Services are still operating at all the alert levels.
  • Charities Services released a newsletter to all primary contacts of charities, outlining some key information for charities.
  • Charities Services updated their web information based on guidance from the COVID-19 policy team, she recommended having a look at the fundraising guidance particularly.
  • Charities Services’ registration, education and advisory functions continue during lockdown, but compliance work pauses – they aren’t removing any charities for failure to file, or sending out reminders to charities to complete their annual reporting, or sending notices to charities as part of their investigations work.
  • Although Charities Services haven’t issued a general extension for all charities, they are being very flexible, and encouraged sector members to let their members know they can email Charities Services who will approve any extensions as needed.
  • Natasha noted this flexibility would be continued for groups that are based in Tāmaki Makarau – even if the rest of the country moves down the Alert Levels.
  • Finally, she reported on Charities Services planning for its Annual Meeting on 29 October, that will be online.

Natasha then invited sector members to ask any questions.

Members asked about funding available for charities given the impacts of COVID-19. Daisy from Hāpai Hapori noted the Community Matters website had a lot of information about funding, including upcoming deadlines. Andrew P from Charities Services also noted the Charities Services website summarised funding options for charities impacted by COVID-19.

Several members noted the difficulties in applying for wage subsidy payments from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). Some noted it was difficult for charities to demonstrate a decrease in revenue, where they relied on grant funding, even if revenue had decreased. Others noted the challenges for groups with multiple members who did not have formal legal structures or Inland Revenue numbers (like church dioceses).

Andrew P from Charities Services noted charities do qualify for the wage subsidy, but acknowledged the challenge faced by most charities in applying for this funding. After following up with Inland Revenue and MSD, Charities Services reported that charities could make use of the large employer function, which would help larger groups collect information.

The issue of selling lottery tickets online was raised, and DIA Policy provided the following advice:

  • Both the Department and the Minister of Internal Affairs are aware that the exemption for the Heart Foundation and Coast Guard NZ to sell their lottery tickets online, granted under the last COVID-19 lockdown, is due to expire on 31 October 2021.
  • Work is ongoing to find an appropriate way to extend this date as a bill solely amending the Gambling Act for this reason is unlikely to get approval.
  • If a way cannot be found, then these organisations will need to stop selling their tickets remotely, until such time as a permanent provision is in place.
  • The Minister is proposing a permanent provision for all Class 3 lotteries to operate remotely as part of the wider Online Gambling Review. No date has been confirmed for this change.

Modernising the Charities Act

Charities Services staff left the meeting for DIA Policy and Sector Group attendees to discuss the Charities Act work.

DIA Policy outlined that two rounds of targeted consultation had occurred covering the following topics: reporting requirements for small charities; charities’ business and accumulation activities; potential improvements to the appeals mechanism; matters relating to the regulator; and duties of officers of charities. This final round of targeted consultation would be finishing on 3 September.

Sector Group attendees raised a range of issues in discussion, covering:

  • Decision-making and appeals;
  • Reporting requirements for small charities;
  • Accumulation; and
  • Officers.

The scope of the modernisation work was also raised in discussion. Outstanding issues mentioned by attendees included the definition of charitable purpose, advocacy, structure of the regulator, and a first principles review.

Further information about work to modernise the Charities Act is available on the webpage www.dia.govt.nz/charitiesact 

DIA Policy intends to update the webpage at the end of September with key high level themes from targeted consultation. 

Sector Group Attendees: 

Chris Glaudel (Community Housing Aotearoa) projects@communityhousing.org.nz, Craig Fisher (Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand) craig.fisher@rsmnz.co.nz, Emma Wethey (Philanthropy New Zealand) Emma@philanthropy.org.nz, Jane Zintl (Ara Taiohi Incorporated) executive.officer@arataiohi.org.nz, Juliet Chevalier Watts (University of Waikato) julietcw@waikato.ac.nz, Marion Blake (NZ Navigator Charitable Trust) marioncblake@gmail.com, Michelle Berriman (Fundraising Institute of New Zealand) michelle@finz.org.nz, Michelle Kitney (Volunteering New Zealand) michelle@volunteeringnz.org.nz, Peter van Hout and Peter Bain (Interchurch Bureau) Peterv@methodist.org.nz peter.bain@salvationarmy.org.nz, Rachel Qi (Multicultural Council of Wellington Incorporated) president@mccwellington.org.nz, Richard Leung (New Zealand Chinese Association Incorporated) rgleung67@gmail.com, Steven Moe (Parry Field Lawyers) stevenmoe@parryfield.com, Sue Barker (Charity Law Association of Australia and New Zealand) susan.barker@charitieslaw.co, Valerie Williams (Todd Foundation) Valerie@toddfoundation.org.nz

DIA Charities Services Staff: Natasha Weight (General Manager), Stephen Reilly (Manager Regulatory), Andrew Phillips (Manager Engagement and Business Improvement), Joe Buchanan (Team Leader Registration), Andrew Newbery (Team Leader Capability), Francesca Ephraim (Regional Advisor Capability)

DIA Hāpai Hapori Staff: Daisy McElwain (Advisor Strategic Programmes and Advice)

DIA Policy Staff: Jayne Beggs (Policy Manager), Louise Cooney (Principal Advisor)

Apologies: Denise Kingi-‘Ulu’ave (LeVa), Mihiarangi Piripi (Whāia Legal), Tai Ahu (Te Ohu Kaimoana), Louise Eunson (Plunket), Rachel Noble (Deaf Action New Zealand).