RSM New Zealand

New to a registered charity? Charities Services April Newsletter

DIA Charities Services April Newsletter clearly outlined the following:

New to a registered charity?

Are you a new treasurer, chairperson, or have you been given the responsibility of reporting to Charities Services on behalf of a registered charity?

You may not be clear on what’s required, so we’ve outlined below what you need to know.

What is a registered charity?

A registered charity is an organisation that has applied to Charities Services to become registered and has been successful in its application.

Charities Services is part of the Department Internal Affairs; we register and monitor registered charities, process Annual Returns, and maintain the Charities Register. You can find out more about our role here.

Charities can choose to be registered – it's not mandatory for charities to be registered with us.

There are a number of benefits in being a registered charity, in particular that your organisation is eligible for some tax exemptions. Being registered may also help your charity secure funds from grant funders who may only make grants available to registered charities.

There are also obligations that come with being a registered charity, and it’s important that your charity is aware of these requirements and complies to remain registered. You can find out more about the benefits and obligations here.

How do I check if my charity is registered with Charities Services?

Before you go any further, you may want to check first if your charity is indeed registered with Charities Services. You can find this out by doing a search on the Charities Register for your charity. Click here to go to the Register, enter your charity’s name or any of the other details you have, and click Search. You can also search by the name of an officer if you’re unsure of the official name of your charity.

What are my charity’s obligations as a registered charity?

As a registered charity, there are a number of obligations, and it’s important your charity’s committee, board or governing body know about these.

Two of these requirements are that:

  • your charity needs to keep us up to date with any changes to your charity, including contact details, new or retiring officers (e.g. committee members, trustees), changes to your rules (e.g. constitution, trust deed), so that we can maintain an up-to-date Charities Register. This will ensure that anyone wanting information about your charity – including funders who are assessing grant applications – can find the correct information about your organisation on our register, and
  • your charity needs to complete an Annual Return every year.

What is an Annual Return?

Every year, within six months of your charity’s financial year end (balance date), your charity will need to complete and submit an Annual Return to Charities Services. If you’re unsure of your charity’s balance date, ask your treasurer, or you can check this on your charity’s listing in the Charities Register.

You'll need to go through the requirements of the Annual Return with your charity’s committee, board or governing body as it asks for both financial and non-financial information.

As part of the Annual Return, you'll also need to provide specific information that complies with new reporting standards. Before you can do this, you'll need to find out what tier your charity needs to report under, and this will determine if you need to put together a Performance Report (for Tiers 3 and 4) or Financial Statements (for Tiers 1 and 2).

Most of the charities registered with Charities Services are Tier 3 and Tier 4. We have lots of information on our website on how to put together your charity’s Performance Report and we highly recommend that you download our Annual Reporting booklets that will guide you through the steps required to put your report together.

Once you've completed your Performance Report, you can then log into your charity’s account and complete the online Annual Return form. You'll need to attach your Performance Report as part of this process. 

Where can I get help?

DIA Charities Services suggests that you first find out who in your charity has been in charge of submitting previous Annual Returns to Charities Services. Remember that the requirements of the Annual Return have changed (since last year) and it’s important to check with the previous person if the last Annual Report was submitted using the new reporting requirements. If you don't have last year's Annual Return, you can find it on your charity's listing in the Charities Register

DIA Charities Services hasguidebooks, videos, tutorials and templates available on their website to help you with your charity’s Annual Return. Their blog, newsletter and Facebook page are also good sources of information.

If you're still stuck, give DIA Charities Services a call on 0508 CHARITIES (0508 242 748), or email at info@charities.govt.nz 

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