Search Browse On This Day Map Quotations Timeline Research Free Datasets Remembered About Contact

Uncharitable Aspirations?

Wed 27 Jul 2011 In: Comment View at Wayback

Last year, the New Zealand Charities Commission won our interest through deregistration of the Exodus Ministries Trust Board, an 'ex-gay' organisation. What might be useful if we encounter other 'charities' that may be operating with suspect motives? First, a disclaimer. I am not arguing that specific registered charities are currently engaged in this sort of wrongdoing at all. Given that I have no such evidence at hand that this is the case, that would be irresponsible and defamatory to the organisations and individuals involved. No such claims are made in the context of this article. However, given that registration details and information are publically available on the Charities Commission website, let me note that the Maxim Institute, Family Life International and Parents Incorporated (Inc) are all listed as charitable organisations under the ambit of the Charities Act 2005. Destiny Church Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Nelson, Rotorua and Taranaki are also listed as charities, while Destiny Church Dunedin, Gisborne, Kaitaia and Porirua are no longer registered. Presumably, that may be due to the closure of such branches, or withdrawal from welfare service provision. The Charities Act 2005 was established to regulate and enable good governance practices within the charitable/voluntary association sector. Under Section 5 (b), 'charitable purpose" is defined as that which contributes to the advance of education (and 'religion"- although the latter is broadly defined), as well as poverty relief. However, as the Exodus Ministries Trust Board and other religious charities cases before the Commission have led it to observe, religious status alone may not constitute tangible public benefit under the terms of the Charities Act. The Charities Commission is tasked with monitoring registered charities, regulates their annual financial returns, provides best practice governance guidelines and fulfils an advisory role. It registers sports, community welfare and development, environmental, women's service, health, employment, animal welfare, international aid, marae and iwi organisations. Under Section 10 (j) and (k) of the Charities Act 2005, there is provision that in some instances, registration can been withheld or withdrawn due to questions involved that the organisation's activities are not primarily directed at charitable objectives, and that political purposes are their primary objective instead. In determining this, the Commission will analyse the charity's constitution, relevant case law and existing activities. In some cases, an organisation may have a charitable arm that is registered, while its non-charitable arm is not subject to the benefits of charitable status. In others, deregistration may occur because organisations have simply wound up, or failed to file annual financial returns, or fail to comply with their statutory responsibilities. In two recorded cases on their website, there were reported cases of serious wrongdoing. The Commission is entitled to remove organisations that don't meet registration requirements, undertake serious wrongdoing, or have failed to otherwise comply with the Charities Act 2005, as specified within Section 32. Section 16 disqualifies officers from management responsibilities of charitable organisations who are undergoing, or who have undergone, bankruptcy, liquidation or other financial mismanagement proceedings. As provided for under Section 35 of the Charities Act, the Commission also provides a useful online complaints form that explains how one should go about complaining when one is sure that a specific charity may be engaged in underhand or suspect activity that warrant investigation and deregistration. These may include evidence of financial mismanagement by organisational directors or staff, harm to clients, terrorist funding and other criminal activities, evidence that the 'charity' is a front group for non-charitable activities, tax avoidance, questionable operational independence, fraudulent misrepresentation, risk to the public interest and other instances of noncompliance. Complainants should name the charity, identify responsible figures for the complaint, clarify the nature of their allegations and what effect that the shortcoming has had on charity operation, and detail personal actions undertaken, as well as correspondence with the charity and/or other agencies. Recommended: Charities Commission: Charities Act 2005 : Charities Commission: Exodus Ministries Trust Board decision: Complaints forms are also available from: Monitoring and Investigations Charities Commission PO Box 8072 Wellington 6143 Craig Young - 27th July 2011    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Wednesday, 27th July 2011 - 3:15pm

Rights Information

This page displays a version of a article that was automatically harvested before the website closed. All of the formatting and images have been removed and some text content may not have been fully captured correctly. The article is provided here for personal research and review and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of If you have queries or concerns about this article please email us