Category Archives: Charities Commission

Questions, answers and comments about the Charities Commission, annual returns, change of officers or the Charities Act.

Community Meetings – Charities Act Review

The Charities Act 2005 is being reviewed and our feedback is important. The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is running a series of 21 community meetings in March and April 2019 to explain the review and seek your feedback.

The DIA policy team is running the meetings, which is separate from the Charities Services team that regulates charities.  Having said that, Charities Services is part of the DIA and therefore I could view the review as “reviewing yourself”.

The meetings will involve discussions on a public discussion document which will be released in late February 2019. The discussion document will cover a range of issues within scope of the review.  As soon as this document becomes available, we will circulate it.

Although attending a community meeting gives the opportunity to ask questions in person, you don’t have to attend a meeting to make a submission. More information on how to make a submission will be included with the release of the discussion document in late February.

You can find more information on the community meetings, including dates, locations, and details how to register, on the DIA website  .

The link to the meeting locations and dates is THIS ONE.

Annual Return – Charities Services – 31 December 2018

For most of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, the financial year end is 30 June and therefore the Annual Return to Charities Services is due by 31 December.  The 31 December is coming up very quickly and therefore, if your entity (Parish, Synod, Charitable Trust, etc.) has NOT already filed its Annual Return and checked to make sure the Officers listed on the Charities Services website are correct PLEASE do so as quickly as possible.

You will need your annual accounts that comply with the  financial reporting standards that were mandatory three years ago.

In the past Charities Services have given time extensions but their stance on this is hardening and extensions of time are becoming more difficult to obtain.  The Annual Return takes about 20 minutes to 30 minutes to complete (assuming you have all the correct information) and can be done online.


If you require assistance, please let Peter van Hout at the Board of Administration know.

Charities Act Review

Some users will know that the Charities Act is currently in the process of being reviewed.

Earlier in the year there were meetings held in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

As a result of those meetings a questionnaire was developed. Some members of the Core Working Group are asking for your help.  They are asking you to complete the questionnaire, but also please share it with your networks, whether registered charities or not, by email, Facebook, or however.

If you are connected to more than one group or organisation, we’d welcome if you could fill it out multiple times, giving the information separately for each one. The more completed questionnaires we receive, the stronger will be the data that we can gather, for input to the review of the Charities laws.

Here is the link to the questionnaire:

We realise the questionnaire is quite long but there are a lot of issues where we need data to feed into the review, and we really appreciate your time. We also appreciate that your connections and understanding with the Charities Act may be limited to changing details on the Charities Services website and completing the Annual return.


Performance Reports (Annual Financial Statements)

For all Methodist entities that report to the Conference of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, a copy of the Performance Report (your annual financial statements) needs to be with the Connexional Office by 5.00pm Thursday 12 October.

If you are NOT able to meet this deadline, please inform the Connexional Office.

Please remember that you are also required to lodge your approved Performance Report with Charities Services as part of the Annual Return.  This needs to be done by 31 December 2017.

Webinar on Annual Reporting – An overview for Tier 3 & 4 Charities


One of the obligations of being a registered charity is reporting to Charities Services every year so you remain registered.  Charities Services are running a seminar and its free.
If you’re a new charity, a new committee member or even an experienced one, join Charities Services for an overview of Annual Reporting to Charities Services for Tier 3 and Tier 4 charities, next Tuesday 27 June at 12pm (approx. 45 minutes).

If you’re confident with the annual reporting process, or if you’re a Tier 1 or 2 charity, this webinar may not be for you as we’ll be covering the basics. But feel free to forward this invitation to anyone else who may be interested.

Which tier is your charity?

Before registering, make sure you know what tier your charity needs to report to. Check out the information on their website.

Can’t make it?

The webinar recording, handout and links to other helpful information will be published on the Charities Services website and linked to on their Facebook page after the webinar (28 June 2017). So you don’t need to ask them for a copy.

They will also send an automated email the following day (28 June 2017) to everyone who registered for the webinar with this information (even if you didn’t attend), so if you can’t make the live event, feel free to register anyway.

Click this link to register.


Service Performance Report – FREE ONLINE SEMINAR

Charities Services is kicking off its Lunchtime Webinar Series with an introduction to the Statement of Service Performance on 13 April 2017 at 12.00pm. IT IS FREE.

The Statement of Service Performance is a non-financial statement required under the new financial reporting standards and it’s important that you know how to use it well. In this webinar we will explain:

  • how to make the Statement of Service Performance work for your charity;
  • what outputs and outcomes are; and
  • how you can use the Statement of Service Performance to celebrate your charity’s successes.

What’s a webinar and how does it work?

A webinar is a seminar or presentation that is delivered online.

You can participate in these sessions from your computer or any mobile device (smart phone or tablet) and it’s free. You just need a reliable internet connection. We also recommend using the internet browser Google Chrome.

All webinars start at 12.00pm and run for approximately 1 hour, unless specified.

We will be talking for around 30 minutes and at the end of the presentation, we will answer some of your questions. The final webinar will be published on our website and can be viewed any time.

The details

Date: 13 April 2017

Time: 12.00pm – 1.00pm

Location: Anywhere with a reliable internet connection

Register here


Annual Return – Charities Services – 30 June 2016

Questions in the updated annual return

I have mentioned that the Annual Return that you complete and send (or complete online) has changed.

This is an outline of the questions that are asked in the updated annual return.  If you complete the annual return online, most general information about your charity will already be there and you can simply check and update BUT there is new information required.  I have highlighted the new requirements in RED with a  beside it also.

General information about your charity

  • Your charity’s legal and other name (including any trading name)
  • The region(s) or country (countries) where your charity operates
  • Charity’s registration number
  • Postal and street address
  • Phone, fax, email, website address and social media (optional)
  • Details of the main contact at your charity: name, phone number and email address
  • End of financial year/balance date, and
  • If there have been any changes to your charity’s rules document.

Officer details – for each officer

  • Full name
  • Date of birth ⊗
  • Officer’s position (for example, treasurer), and
  • Residential address ⊗

Note: Date of birth and residential address remains confidential and will not be available on the public register

Purpose and structure

  • Your charity’s purposes or mission
  • Your charity’s main activity, sector and beneficiary (collected for statistical purposes), and
  • A description of the structure of your charity, including any trading operations (if applicable).

Charity relationships

  • The names (and charity’s registration number, if applicable) of any entities that control or are controlled by your charity for financial reporting purposes. ⊗

 Your People

  • The number of paid full-time and paid part-time employees that work for your charity in an average week, and the approximate number of hours they work
  • The approximate number of volunteers that work for you in an average week or year, and the average number of hours they work.

Financial information

You will need a copy of your financial statements or Performance Report to complete the financial information section of the annual return form.

This section asks for information about your charity’s financial position (which covers things like receipts/income and payments/expenses) and financial performance (which covers resources/assets, commitments/liabilities, equity and other similar information). The questions are based on the minimum categories in the new reporting standards.

  • The tier your charity is reporting in (This affects the financial information you will be required to include in the annual return) ⊗
  • Indicate whether your charity’s performance report or financial statements have been audited or reviewed, and ⊗
  • Whether your charity’s financial statements or performance report discloses any related party transactions. ⊗

In addition, you will need to know whether your charity:

  • In its ordinary course of business, lends money to or on behalf of others, or manages money or funds on behalf of others ⊗
  • Provided goods or services overseas in the last financial year ⊗
  • Used any business income (for example, from the sale of goods or services) for charitable purposes overseas in the last financial year, and ⊗
  • Received donations and used any of its funds for charitable purposes overseas in the last financial year. ⊗

Some other information

In exceptional circumstances, applications can be made for certain information to be withheld from the public register.


Proposed Changes to the Charities Act 2005

Proposed amendments to the Charities Act, being considered right now by a Government Administration Select Committee, would appear to remove the ability of charities to appeal any decisions of the Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs.

The proposed changes have not been communicated clearly nor have they involved the sector as part of a consultation exercise to gain sector support. But it’s not too late, we have until this Friday to stop this happening.

Add your name and comments to this petition, and we’ll compile your comments into a submission to the Select Committee.

The specific impact of this change is that charities lose their ability to appeal decisions of the Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs, who can decide, for example, to refuse access to the charities register, to amend the register, or that the financial statements of a charity fail to comply with a financial reporting standard.

The proposal would remove an important check and balance on the power of the Chief Executive and, in doing so, move further away from a partnership relationship between the community sector and government.

The Government must stop this ongoing process of undermining the charity sector, and the important work charities do to respond to community needs, as they see them, much more efficiently than government, and in innovative and nimble ways. Allowing charities to do that allows them to form an important glue that holds our society together.


Financial Reporting for Small Charities

The XRB and Charities Services invite you to join them for this free webinar.

Designed for accountants and preparers of annual accounts of small charities adopting Tier 3 and Tier 4 standards, this webinar will cover:

  • How the not-for-profit standards fit into the overall financial reporting framework in New Zealand;
  • Differences between the current and former financial reporting requirements;
  • Some detailed aspects of the Tier 3 and Tier 4 standards; and
  • New assurance requirements for charities.

Charities Services has so far received more than 500 financial reports. Learn from the regulators about some common misunderstandings to make sure you can provide compliant financial reports for your clients.

We will be running more webinars for charities in the near future on selected topics. Be sure to keep an eye out for these.

Webinar dates and times:
Tuesday 26 July 2016 at 10.00am-11.30am
Tuesday 26 July 2016 at 1.00pm-2.30pm
Wednesday 27 July 2016 at 7.00pm-8.30pm

Register in advance on the XRB website (click here).

Annual Returns to Charities Services

Charities Services have revised the Annual Return.  There is now one Annual Return for Tier 3 and one Annual Return for Tier 4 registered charities.  They are different and care will need to be taken when filing your Annual Return

The new Annual Return has a number of new questions and is longer.  I would strongly suggest that you print them out and look through them now so that you are prepared when you go online and complete the form.

Who those who will elect Tier 1 or 2, there is no paper based Annual Return.  The Return is online only (that is our understanding) so there are no links provided.

The Connexional Office will provide some guidelines on how to complete the new sections in due course. – Tier 3 Annual Return Link – Tier 4 Annual Return Link