Australian bushfires – making an impact with your donation

In times of international crisis, as Australia is facing with its catastrophic bushfires, whānau, hapū, iwi and communities of New Zealand donate generously.  Often our first question is who can we donate to so we can be confident that our money goes to the people most in need. 

The Australian Government has established a Bushfire Recovery Agency that has listed registered charities that have established bushfire appeals(external link), and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission has released guidance for safe fundraising and giving in response to drought and bushfire disasters(external link).

In addition, we have previously explained what you should do to ensure your donation has an impact(external link). Below we provide answers to a few of the questions we have been receiving about how to give to Australian charities safely.

ADVICE FOR NZ CHARITIES

Can my charity or funder give money to Australian charities?

Yes, your charity can as long as it will advance your charitable purposes, and it is consistent with your rules. You can check your charitable purposes and your rules document on the Charities Register(external link).

Will giving money to an Australian charity have an impact on my charity’s status as a donee organisation with Inland Revenue?

To qualify as a donee organisation, your funds must be “wholly or mainly” applied to purposes in New Zealand. You can find more information on the Inland Revenue website on page 26 of their guide - Charitable and donee organisations(external link).

If your intended donation will significantly change how you spend your funds for the year, we recommend you talk to Inland Revenue first.

Our charity works or gives overseas and we want to find out more about our tax and other  obligations. 

You can watch the webinar “Know more about your tax obligations(external link)” from Inland Revenue or look at Inland Revenue’s page on charities(external link).  To find out more about protecting your charity when giving money overseas, see the second webinar(external link) in last year’s series.

ADVICE FOR NZ DONORS

Can I get a tax credit for my donation?

If you want a tax credit please check to see if the charity you are donating to is on the Inland Revenue Donee list(external link).

The easiest way to submit a receipt for donations is through Inland Revenue’s MyIR service. You can submit copies of your receipts online.

How do I find out what Australian charities are involved in the area that I want to donate in?

Use the ACNC Charity Register(external link) to find out more about a charity. If you still have questions, you can contact the charity and ask them how they plan to use donations.

I want to make a donation to a New Zealand charity that works in Australia. How can I find out more about them?

If you are donating to a New Zealand registered charity that works internationally you can look them up on the New Zealand Charities Register(external link).

The group I want to donate to is not a registered charity, is it ok to still donate to them?

There is no restriction in New Zealand to only give to registered charities. Many organisations are doing great work, but they may not be registered as a charity. You won’t be able to find them on our register, but as most will have a website you can find more about their work there. They also may be incorporated as a society(external link) or trust board(external link) with the Companies Office where you can find more information.

What can I do if someone comes to my home and asks for a donation and I think they may be fraudulent?

There are some dishonest people who take advantage of New Zealanders’ generosity by fraudulently seeking donations. If someone comes to your home who claims to be collecting donations on behalf of a charity, or they are collecting on the street, ask to see appropriate identification. If they are a registered New Zealand charity they will have a charity number starting with CC. Falsely claiming to be a registered charity under the Charities Act, is an offence, and if you suspect fraud, you can contact the police or report the incident to compliance@dia.govt.nz

Where can I find out more about avoiding scams?

Visit the Australian Government’s Scamwatch(external link) website for a list of known scams and information on how to avoid scams. They have set up a special website with Bushfires and Scams(external link). Netsafe(external link) and CERT NZ(external link) are the experts on staying safe online in New Zealand. CERT NZ has developed a list of tips to help you avoid online scams and attacks.