A Maori organisation had been working on developing cultural activities for its members.  It had grown in size from having barely any income when it was initially set up as an incorporated society to having a number of educational service-related contracts.  It had been paying tax on the income it received.

At an AGM a member asked the Board why the society did not have charitable status.  The society had never been registered as a charity and the Board had not given it any thought.

They took legal advice and discovered that as the society provided educational opportunities that it could register as a charity through Charities Services.  The society also discovered that it would gain a number of benefits from doing so.

Benefits of Registering as a charity

There are some important benefits to registering as a charity with Charities Services if your Maori organisation meets the applicable criteria.  The benefits include:

1.    Tax exemption - registered charities do not have to pay tax on all or some of income they earn, because of the benefit they provide to the public.

2.    Trust and confidence - the Charities Register is public and searchable.  This transparency helps the public to gain trust and confidence in a charity.  The search-ability also makes your organisation more accessible to the public and to potential donors to your organisation.

3.    Funding – you can apply for funding from organisations who only fund charities.

4.    Title – once you are registered as a charity, you can call yourself a charity.  It is an offence to call yourself a charity if you are not registered as such.

It is important to take legal advice if you are considering applying for charitable status for your organisation to ensure that you meet the applicable criteria.

Claire Tyler
Commercial Lawyer
Wellington