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April 2016

Read a text only version of Charities Update.

Lesa's Message

Lesa Kalapu

Tena koutou, talofa lava

This newsletter is to let you know about some of the things going on at Charities Services and in particular to remind you about a big change that affects the way we work together.

Many people who donate or who are thinking about donating to charities such as yours want reassurance that the organisations they are interested in have a genuine commitment to do good for the cause they stand for.

At Charities Services our role is to help promote this trust and confidence and one way to do this is by providing the public with accurate and up to date information on your organisation.

A key part of this information is being open and transparent about where your income came from and what you did with it. There are over 27,000 registered charities in New Zealand so to try and capture consistent and standardised financial information on every charity, regardless of size or shape, the External Reporting Board has introduced New Reporting Standards. We have mentioned these standards in this newsletter before, but it’s crunch time as many charities now have to prepare financial statements in line with them.

There are four different reporting tiers based on annual operating expenditure. This allows smaller charities to prepare financial statements on a simplified basis and also include non-financial information which helps you to tell the story of your charity in a way that financial information alone cannot.

We recognise that these changes may take some time to get used to and to become part of the way we work together. It’s important for you to know that during this transition we will do our best to provide the information and support you need to comply with the standards and on raising awareness of them.

We appreciate that many aspects of the standards require a degree of judgement in terms of their application to a particular charity. We expect officers of charities will act in good faith, exercising their own judgement in a reasonable manner, taking into account their charity’s particular circumstances and relationships with other entities, and calling on professional advice if their situation is complex or unique.

I would encourage you to watch the video and review the information available on our website  to make sure you understand what we need from you and to let us know if there is anything you don’t understand or need help with.

While these changes may be a bit disruptive in the short term we are confident that in the long term they will improve public confidence and strengthen the credibility of the charitable sector.

Nga mihi


Lesa's signature

Lesa Kalapu
​General Manager, Charities Services

Updated Annual Returns

Every year all registered charities must complete an Annual Return AND submit financial statements or performance reports that comply with the new reporting standards. This ensures the public has access to accurate and up-to-date information through the Charities Register.

You will need to complete an updated annual return when you report for the financial year that finishes on or after 31 March 2016.

We wanted to make sure that the Annual Return form worked alongside the new Reporting Standards so we consulted a number of local charities and made changes to make it easy to understand and use, and ensure it collects the right information.

Team members for the new online forms: Ben Thomson (Systems & Products Advisor); Jo Gould (Principal Advisor); Kevin Richards (Team Leader Capability)

Team members working on the online forms: Ben Thomson (Systems & Products Advisor); Jo Gould (Principal Advisor); Kevin Richards (Team Leader Capability)

Main changes

The three main changes are:

  • There are more questions, so it will take a bit more time to complete. You will need to check and update your details and answer a few new questions. It’s much easier to file an annual return online as some of the information will already be there from last year, which can simply be checked and updated
  • The financial questions in the annual return reflect the new Reporting Standards, which should make it easier to answer them
  • The ‘Notice of Change’ is now called ‘Update Details’. Use this function for all updates, including adding or removing an officer. You can update your details at any time, and will be asked to confirm all your details as part of the annual return process.

Be prepared

You should have this information ready before you start an updated annual return:

  • Log in details, which is your charity’s user name and password
  • Details of all your officers, including name, date of birth and home address. We are collecting the new information to ensure that officers can be accurately identified. Currently, we only have the officers’ first and last names, which is insufficient to accurately identify some officers. Date of birth and home address remain confidential and will not be available on the public register
  • The number of staff and the approximate number of volunteers that work for your charity
  • Documents: Your charity’s performance report or financial statements. If you have your accounts audited you will need to include the auditor’s report.

For more help and information about the changes:

Incorporated Societies Bill consultative seminars

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is consulting on changes to the Incorporated Societies legislation.

Just over a third of the incorporated societies register is made up of registered Charities so we partnered up with MBIE to deliver educational seminars around the country. A series of free two-hour seminars on the draft changes to the Incorporated Societies Act have been held all around the country in the last two months.

These seminars were organised by sector umbrella group HuiE! to allow people to hear directly about proposed key changes to the Act and how they will impact them. The seminars have been well attended and featured lots of good questions for policy makers to think about. Societies have been encouraged to follow up with written submissions.

Remaining seminars will be held in Auckland, Palmerston North, and Wellington in May 2016. Find out more about these seminars here.

Handy to know

the Govt.nz website

Does your charity help people around big events in their family lives – such as a birth, death, marriage, civil union or name change? From 4 May, information on registering those events with the government will be on the all-of-government website, Govt.nz. For more information email govt.nz@dia.govt.nz.