NZ Charities – Voluntary Registration or Else!
Monday, 17th July 2006 at 1:07 pm
In New Zealand, the registration of charities under a new Charities Act will begin in February 2007 with the aim to provide the public with more information about the nature, activities and purposes of Not for Profits in that country – but the voluntary register has a sting in its tale!
The NZ Charities Commission says that while registration is voluntary, existing charitable organisations need to register before 1 July 2008 to continue to qualify for income tax and gift duty exemptions.
Chief Executive of the Charities Commission Trevor Garrett said the Charities Register, which will be available at www.charities.govt.nz , will help to promote and maintain public confidence in the charitable sector.
It also goes further than existing registers in Australia.
According to the NZ Charities Commission the rules and annual returns of every registered charity will be publicly available, which will help to demonstrate how and on what their funds are used.
Each registered charity has to pass a charitable purpose test meaning they are engaged in genuinely charitable acts directed towards the public benefit.
Charities registered under the Charities Act will receive a unique registration number and potential donors will be entitled to ask fundraisers for this number in situations where there is any doubt about a charity’s legitimacy.
Trevor Garret says this is a significant change for New Zealand’s charitable sector and the 2007 starting date for registration will give charities additional time to consider registration under the Charities Act, and prepare for registration by gathering the information and materials needed.
Garrett says that the Commission has already begun an extensive education and communication program, to ensure New Zealand charities know what to do and when.
The Commission says that currently no-one has any idea how many charities there were in New Zealand or what there activities were.
The Charities Act was established the Charities Commission on 1 July 2005 to provide a registration and monitoring system for charitable organisations in New Zealand and to provide education and support to the charitable sector.
The large charities quoted in the NZ media were in favour of the register as a way of improving transparency within the sector and weeding out less reputable charities.