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Benefits for the public
In short, the Charities Register will help the public to make better-informed decisions about charities they may wish to support financially, volunteer for, or whose services they may wish to use.
The Charities Register makes it easy for people to:
- search for information about the services of particular charities
- search for information about the charitable purposes of registered charities
- search for information about charities that have applied to them for funding
- find contact details of registered charities
- find out where a charity operates, the sector in which it works, and who its beneficiaries are
- find out how a charity is governed and who its officers are
- access financial and other information.
To find specific information about charities - for example, their activities, charitable purpose, and financial position visit the Register.
What information is on the Charities Register?
The Register shows the following information about each charity:
- address for service
- registration number
- current officers, and all people who have been officers since the charity was first registered
- rules documents
- application details
The Register also shows each notice of change and Annual Return (including financial statements) filed by the charity.
Charities Services restricts public access to certain information and documents if it considers it in the public interest to do so. This means that in some cases, we do not show particular information on the public Register. See our information sheet Restricting information.
What other tips are there for donors?
- If the charity is registered with Charities Services, you can be sure that its rules and application have been scrutinised to be sure it meets the Charities Act's criteria, and that it must file an Annual Return with Charities Services.
- If you donate directly to a charity, you can be sure that it will receive 100% of your donation.
- If donating to a disaster relief fund, you may prefer to donate via an already-established charitable organisation with an existing track record of delivering international relief.
- Many registered charities are also donee organisations. If you donate to a donee organisation listed on the Inland Revenue website, generally you can claim a tax credit for that donation. To claim, you should ask a donee organisation to which you make a donation to issue you with a receipt showing:
- the name of the donor(s)
- the amount and date of the donation
- a clear statement that it is a donation
- clearly at the top if the donation is a payroll giving donation
- the signature of an authorised person, and
- an official stamp with the name of the approved donee organisation.
- If you prefer – and your employer participates in the scheme - you could choose to make donations directly from your pay to a donee organisation of your choice, and receive immediate tax credits relating to the donations you make each payday. For more, see our information on payroll giving.
(Note: for donations made through payroll giving, you won't receive a receipt issued by the donee organisation. Instead, your pay slip will show the amount of the donation made and the tax credit received.)
- Never give out credit card, bank account, or other personal information over the phone.
- If a collector calls at your home, you can ask them for identification, and whether the charity they are collecting for is registered with Charities Services. If it is, you can request the charity's registration number.
- Be aware of "sound alike" organisations that have names similar to well-known charities.
- Remember - you can end a phone call or on-street conversation with a collector whenever you wish. You should never feel coerced into giving.
What can I do when a collector knocks on my door or phones me?
Anyone being asked to volunteer or donate to a charity – or a particular cause, such as emergency disaster relief being supported by a charity – might like to keep the following helpful tips in mind, and refer to the information on the Charities Register before making important decisions about whether to support a particular charity:
Find out who's asking
Many phone calls or on-street collectors requesting charitable donations represent profit-making agencies who keep a portion of your donation for themselves, or charge fees for their fundraising services. Find out if the person with whom you are speaking works for a telemarketing or fundraising company, or whether they are a volunteer or employee of the charity itself. If they belong to a profit-making agency, you may also like to ask whether they are a member of the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand, and comply with its Codes of Ethics and Practice.
Ask where your donation goes
Professional, profit-making telemarketers and fundraising agencies negotiate their fees before undertaking any work, and know exactly how much of every dollar raised goes to the charity and how much they charge for their services. You may like to ask the person requesting your donation to tell you how much of your donation will actually end up with the charity. If they are unwilling to provide this information, you may wish to consider carefully whether you wish to donate in this way. You can also ask whether the charity they are collecting for is registered with Charities Services, and ask for its registration number. By law, they must tell you this.
Do some research
We suggest that if approached for a donation, or if you want to choose a charity to donate to, that you take a look at the Charities Register – firstly to see if the charity is registered, and if it is, to look at the financial and other information it has provided to Charities Services. You can search the Register online, or call our free information line 0508 CHARITIES to look up information for you
Registration is voluntary though, so although Charities Services has now registered more than 25,000 charities, all of whom have proven they have a genuinely charitable purpose, not all charities have chosen to apply.
Remember too, that charities can present their financial accounts in any way or format they wish. The Charities Act does not require any particular format or standard, so we suggest you read the charity’s Financial Performance and their Financial Position statements to get a clearer picture, and contact the charity if you have any questions.