Lesa’s welcome and introduction
Tēnā koutou kātoa, Talofa lava and warm greetings
Welcome to the May issue of Charities Update - the first for me as General Manager Charities Services.
I stepped into this role at the beginning of the month when former General Manager Brendon Ward left the Department to take up an opportunity with the Master Builders Association. We here at Charities Services (and the wider Department of Internal Affairs) wish to thank Brendon for his good work and wish him all the very best .
This first month has been quite intense as I come up to speed with the role and activities of Charities Services’ registration, education and compliance teams and the preparatory work for the upcoming changes with the new financial reporting standards less than a year away. In my second week in the job I was fortunate to be able to attend the 7th International Charity Regulators’ meeting in Melbourne. This was an excellent opportunity to meet people from other jurisdictions because despite the different environments we work in the issues are strikingly similar.
My immediate priority is to gain a deeper understanding of the work of Charities Services by talking to people working in the sector, the Charities Registration Board, the Charities Services’ teams and other colleagues in the Department, and meeting with Hon Jo Goodhew, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.
I have a strong affinity with the charitable and community sectors and have been lucky enough to work in a variety of roles in the public service over the past 18 years on issues related to the charitable and community sectors including providing policy and operational advice to Ministers, research and evaluation and building sector capability.
I am looking forward to making a positive difference for charities and New Zealanders’ trust in the charitable sector.
Nāku, nā, Lesa Kalapu
International Charities Regulators’ meeting
Interacting with other charity regulators representing several other jurisdictions at a recent international meeting gave Lesa Kalapu, General Manager Charities Services, and John Currie, Manager Registration, an insight into common topics and issues.
In early April, along with charity regulators from England and Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Singapore, Canada, Australia, both attended the 7th International Charity Regulators meeting in Melbourne. Also present were tax officials from the Australian Tax Office (ATO), UK Revenue Office and New Zealand Inland Revenue.
“We discussed a range of topics during the two-day meeting and found the issues and problems we faced were common across all jurisdictions,” John said. “It was good to be joined up internationally as building these important relationships means we can be stronger together and make it work.”
Topics on the agenda included the most appropriate compliance approach, where religion stands as a ‘head’ of charity in an increasing secular society, the effects of social media on the regulation of charity and red tape reduction.
The interface between charity law and equalities legislation was also considered, as was the line between social enterprise and commercial activity, the use of charities of tax exemptions, whether a charity has a public or private benefit, the issue of wealth accumulation in charities, and the independence of charitable entities governance bodies.
“After our two days in Melbourne we went to Sydney to speak at the public forum hosted by the Australian Charity Law Association on the topic: Effective charity regulation around the world,” John said.
“This was also an opportunity for us to be questioned by the audience about a number of issues relating to charities and also about the future of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC).
“Not surprisingly a number of questions were directed towards the future of the ACNC which faces potential disestablishment in July with a merger of some functions back into the ATO.
“While there was a comparison of the different operating models used across all jurisdictions sentiment largely fell in support of retaining the ACNC model as it currently stands,” John said.
EthnicA Hamilton – a great opportunity
Above: Scott Miller talks to delegates at the Hamilton EthnicA Conference
The Charities Services education team jumped at the prospect of sharing ideas and information at this year’s EthnicA 2014 conferences which kicked off in Hamilton at the beginning of the month.
“Hamilton’s EthnicA was a great opportunity to meet representatives of diverse ethnic communities and share our resources with them,” says Regional Adviser Capability Scott Miller.
“Manager Policy and Research Adrian Shields and I attended, and talked about how NZ Navigator and the new CommunityNet Aotearoa resources can help them and their organisations. We also gave individual delegates a run-down on the new reporting standards and what this means for them.
“It’s also great to work closer with our Departmental colleagues from the Office of Ethnic Affairs as together we can strengthen our reach into communities. Bringing all our skills and resources together means we can do a better job to assist people – it’s all about being customer-centred and making our services more accessible.
“For us the conference opened the door into many more diverse communities – ones we want to build future relationships with, making our priority for stronger and more resilient communities a tangible reality,” Scott said.
The Charities Services team will also attend the other three conferences being held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch later in the year.
Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS) opens
More than $12 million is available to support community groups with the opening earlier this month of the COGS funding round for 2014/15.
The funding will be distributed by 37 Local Distribution Committees of elected volunteers, after considering and making decisions on grant applications from community organisations.
Administered by the Department of Internal Affairs, the scheme supports organisations to deliver community-based social services that make a difference in their communities. In previous years COGS has funded activities such as adult learning services, friendship groups for seniors, assistance for families in need, support for older people and budgeting services.
Currently the Department is making changes to improve the way COGS grants are processed and assessed. This will be done in two phases.
During the first phase in 2014 dates are changing and timeframes are being streamlined. The closing date for applications has been brought forward to 14 May 2014. COGS applications will be processed quicker and community groups will find out the outcome of their applications sooner. Successful applicants will receive their grants earlier in the year, from August 2014.
In 2015, phase two will see COGS go live on a new online application system which will simplify the process of applying for funding. The aim is to collect information from community groups once, reduce the number of questions asked, and give community groups more transparency about where their application sits within the decision-making process.
Groups who have applied to COGS in the previous three years have been contacted by email to alert them to these changes and Departmental staff are currently hosting public meetings throughout New Zealand.
More information (including a timeline) can found on the Community Matters website.
Help with making an application is available by phone on 0800 824 824 or at one of the Department’s regional offices.
Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Jo Goodhew’s Update
Volunteer Fund open for applications
Applications for this year’s Support for Volunteering Fund are open with the fund providing more than $502,000 annually to projects and organisations that promote and support volunteering in New Zealand.
The funding is divided between Volunteering New Zealand, regional volunteer centres and selected projects in the volunteer sector. Applications close on 7 May 2014.
Skilled intern for seven community groups
The Community Internship Programme funds hapū, iwi or community groups to employ skilled professionals as interns to help them meet clearly identified objectives.
With $229,797 in funding the programme focuses on skill-sharing and the exchange of knowledge between sectors, while building on-going relationships which continue after an internship ends.
National Community Awards winners
Mistletoe Bay Trust has won the supreme award and the Neurological Foundation Southern Chair of Neurosurgery has received the runner-up award at the Trustpower National Community Awards announced in March.
These annual awards recognise and thank dedicated volunteers for their contribution to the community and help create the safe and inclusive communities that make New Zealand a great place to live.
Revamped website supports community groups
The ‘new look’ customer driven CommunityNet Aotearoa website draws together a huge variety of resources to better support the sector.
Tailor-made in response to customer feedback on the previous site users can now create a customised toolkit of the resources they want to use regularly or see as having value.
Farewell Dr Donald Poirier
Above: Author Dr Donald Poirier with Hon Jo Goodhew, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
Senior Registration Analyst Dr Donald Poirier has just left Charities Services retiring from the workforce for the second time.
He joined the team in November 2007 after an impressive 30 year career at the University of Moncton, in New Brunswick, Canada. Besides teaching, he published a number of books mainly in French.
Acknowledging his contribution to Charities Services, Manager Registration John Currie said since joining the team Donald with his legal back ground had provided considered insight into both New Zealand and international charity law.
“Donald is the author of Charity Law in New Zealand, the first authoritative and up-to-date account of charity law in the country,” John said.
“This was Donald’s 20th book and his first major publication in New Zealand. As this is a specialist area of law we were fortunate Donald chose to come to New Zealand on his first retirement and then to join us in here in Charities for his second career.”
Charity Law in New Zealand was officially launched last year by the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Hon Jo Goodhew and is available to download from the Charities Services website.
And typical of Donald he spent his last day at Charities Services giving a presentation in Auckland. All the best Donald for your second retirement.
Fringe benefit tax and charities
If you provide vouchers or short term charge facilities to your employees then from 1 April this year changes to the fringe benefit tax (FBT) rules affect your charitable organisation.
Charities are no longer be exempt from paying FBT on vouchers (including petrol or grocery vouchers) and short term charge facilities, for example pre-loaded credit cards given to your employees when the total value of the benefits is more than five per cent of the employee’s salary or wages, or $1200 – whichever is lower.
For example, Bob earns a salary of $27,000 in a year, Jess $43,000, John $17,000 and they all receive vouchers from their employer. Both Bob and Jess would have an FBT threshold of $1,200 because their income is greater than $24,000 and John would have a threshold of $850 as his income is less than $24,000.
If your organisation gives employees these fringe benefits, you need to make sure you’re registered for FBT, declare any fringe benefits provided by filing an FBT return and pay and subsequent FBT. To find out more about the changes and how to register, check out the IRD website. Call IRD on 0800 377 772 if you have any questions.
Find out more about governance
Governance best practice for not for profit (NFP) organisations is up for discussion at upcoming Institute of Directors in New Zealand courses being held in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington.
At the course you will be able to find out key differences in the NFP sector which impact on the governance of these organisations. Not-for-Profit Governance Essentials outlines these differences while providing a full framework for governance and how a board works.
The courses are 9 June and 2 October 2014 in Wellington, 6 August 2014 in Auckland and 11 November 2014in Hamilton. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.
Auditing and Assurance Standards – keep up-to-date
Over the last two years there have been significant changes to the auditing and assurance standards and the External Reporting Board (XRB) is running free seminars to help you keep up-to-date.
The seminars are designed for practitioners who are involved in providing auditing and assurance services. People involve with governance, such as company directors and audit committee members, and academics may also find the seminars of relevance.
Dates for upcoming seminars are:
- Auckland : 13 May 2014 (Tuesday), 9am-11am
- Hamilton : 12 May 2014 (Monday), 9am-11am
- Webinar: 16 May 2014 (Friday), 9am - 11am
Participants are asked to register on the XRB website.
Help us to help you
When you change your contact details please always let Charities Services know so we can keep our files up-to-date and get in contact with you in the future.
Also make sure you file your annual return and if you are filing online please pay the filing fee online too.
This means that a tax receipt will be issued to your charity with no further action required by you. More information about this payment method change will be published on the website later in May 2014.
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