Speeches

Fundraising Institute of New Zealand conference

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 12:12
Community and Voluntary Sector

E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou, katoa. Ka nui te honore ke te mihi ki a koutou.

Thank you for inviting me back to open your conference this year.  I am pleased to be here with New Zealand’s most influential fundraisers and to speak to you as Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.

I would like to begin by acknowledging FINZ President Dennis McKinley and Chief Executive James Austin. I would also like to welcome and acknowledge your international speakers, including Andrew Watt, President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in the United States of America, and Rob Edwards, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Institute Australia.

I will briefly discuss my Community and Voluntary portfolio, which I call by its acronym, CVS because it’s a bit of a mouthful!

The best thing about this portfolio is its wide reach into the very fabric of New Zealand society, and the ordinary New Zealanders that willingly help each other.

Now into my second term as Minister, I have set out several priorities for myself. These include increasing public understanding of the sector and confidence in charities; and strengthening the social enterprise sector.

Increasing confidence in the sector

Charitable status brings the benefits of tax-free status in New Zealand, and also opens doorways to government funding and philanthropic donations.

I want to ensure that the sector is strong. And I recognise that strength comes from gaining the public’s trust and confidence that the work charities carry out is indeed charitable.

An important aspect of this trust is transparency. Charities have always been required to submit annual financial reports, but until now there have been no minimum standards on the content or the quality of those financial statements.

Examples of charities that are late filing their annual returns, or fail to file year after year, turn up in media stories too often.

The Department is taking this situation seriously.

Since December approximately 2,000 charities that had failed to file two or more Annual Returns have been written to, resulting in more than 1,894 overdue returns from 890 organisations.

Charities Services has also deregistered 738 charities that did not respond, and 77 have voluntarily deregistered. They are also following up with the remaining charities.

New reporting standards came into effect on 1 April 2015 and now registered charities need to prepare their financial statements in line with these new standards.

To tell the whole story, these reports need to include information about all the different parts of the charity, including its activities, transactions and balances.

Larger charities will now have to provide non-financial information, such as mission and purpose, and what the charity does, in addition to financial information.

Charities Services, with support from the External Reporting Board, has held 41 out of a total of 76 workshops throughout New Zealand.

So far the evaluations are very positive. Over 90 per cent of attendees are confident they can implement the standards.

For me success will be more transparent and timely financial reporting, resulting in fewer charities being investigated or deregistered. Our new reporting standards will help to achieve this goal.

Social Enterprise

The provision of public services is changing as more groups begin to get involved in bettering our society.

One of the key movements underway is social enterprise, which refers to organisations which use commercial methods to generate income to support social or environmental goals.

We now have a Government position statement on social enterprise to encourage collaboration between Government, philanthropy, corporate and social enterprise networks.

Last year the Government invested $1.270 million over two years in the Hikurangi Foundation, now called the Ākina Foundation, to develop start up support for emerging social enterprises.

In March, Ākina celebrated the graduation of 11 teams whose projects formed its first Launchpad accelerator programme. Many of these projects have already succeeded in obtaining corporate investors for the next stage of their development. 

As the popularity and public understanding of social enterprise grows, we are seeing increasing capability building initiatives emerge:

For instance, the new Youth Enterprise Fund, initiated by the Minister for Youth, includes support for growing social enterprise skills among youth.

Another example is Business Mentors New Zealand, which now has a Community Mentors arm providing volunteer coaching for social enterprises and non-profits across the country.

However funding has always been an issue. And as more people become involved in social enterprises the limited funding is tighter than ever.

I think we will see more innovative approaches like crowd funding, and equity crowd funding. Another approach about to be trialled is social bonds, and streamlined contracting work led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Civil society in New Zealand

Civil society in New Zealand has evolved along with our nation to encompass a wide variety of functions, including articulating community needs, representing communities, and putting in place solutions to local issues.

The countless number of community organisations serving a comprehensive range of causes is rooted in our Kiwi culture of ‘just getting on with what needs to be done.’

That this mostly happens without fanfare or fuss is the way Kiwis like it to be, pitching in and just getting on with it.

And in so doing, something new can be created, as happened four years ago when the Student Volunteer Army sprang up virtually overnight, creating a new expression of volunteering in New Zealand.

Conclusion

It is always good to be among the people who make things happen in the CVS world, and without professional fundraisers many community organisations would struggle to achieve their aims. Yours is increasingly important work, as is the professional support FINZ provides.

I cannot conclude without mentioning the volunteers at the heart of the innumerable activities you work to support. You are in the fortunate position of knowing up close and personal the people who put their passion, energy, time and talents into making New Zealand a better place.

That so much voluntary work happens out of the public eye only enhances its value, and exemplifies an intrinsic motivation to contribute to civil society. Simply put, there is enormous personal satisfaction in doing good work and making a difference!

No reira, tēna koutou, tēna koutou, tēna koutou katoa.