Themes from community meeting discussions (21 May 2019)

Discussions at community meetings have focused on a number of key themes:

Timing and scope of review:

The consultation and policy development process is happening too quickly. More time should be taken to work through the issues.

The Minister and Government should consider a first principles or Law Commission review. 

Reporting standards:

Many small charities are struggling to meet reporting standards, especially in the first year.
 
Some have suggested the creation of ‘tier 5’ standards or exemptions for charities with very low expenditure.

Concern about increasing compliance for small charities. 

Concern about consolidation of accounts - some small charities are required to report as Tier 1 because they fall under an umbrella organisation.

Governance:

Some think that governance standards would be useful to introduce.
 
Others are concerned that governance standards will deter people from volunteering on boards and committees.
 
Any possible standards would need to align with duties and obligations of officers outlined in other legislation, such as the Incorporated Societies Act. 
 
Any governance standards would need to incorporate tikanga Māori governance concepts. 

Advocacy:

Many feel that charities should have a role to advocate, however, there is uncertainty over what advocacy is allowable.
 
Uncertainty around advocacy is contributing to a reluctance among charities to ‘speak up’ on issues. 

Business: 

Running a business is a sustainable income stream that can support the purpose of a charity – this issue needs careful consideration.
 
Some concern that any new rules around accumulation of funds must not be too broad or restrictive. 

Te Ao Māori:

Māori charities need to be empowered to use their funding effectively for their communities, including accumulating funds for future generations.

Te Ao Māori already has clearly articulated charitable concepts that are not reflected in the Act.

Māori charities should be able to advocate for adherence to Treaty of Waitangi principles.

Appeals:

The current appeals process is not accessible for charities. The appeals process needs to be cost effective, timely, and less formal than the High Court.

Working with Charities Services:

Many have noted that Charities Services are very responsive and good to work with.
 
More support is needed for small charities, for example better guidance and templates available online. 
 
Charities Services needs to provide more face to face support and community outreach.

Alignment with other legislation: 

A lot of interest about how this work will align with other legislation, such as the Incorporated Societies Act and proposed amendments. 

Other comments:

Charities’ main priority is trying to do the best for their community. Often the bureaucracy takes away from getting the job done.
 
People that volunteer for charities always try to do the right thing but they don’t always have all the necessary skills.
 
The Act and associated guidance should be in plain English. This is particularly important for smaller charities or those charities with volunteers who have English as a second language.