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Charities Register

What we do

Charities Services Ngā Rātonga Kaupapa Atawhai registers and monitors charities and processes annual returns; and encourages good governance and management practices.

Under the Charities Act 2005, registered charities must provide specific information to Charities Services and the public via the Charities Register.

Making the data accessible

In 2011 Charities Services (then the Charities Commission) made advanced search functionality available for the Charities Register and licensed the data for re-use under a Creative Commons BY licence. While the Register had always been open, it wasn’t until 2011 that all data from the Register could be searched and downloaded.

The Commission wanted to promote public trust and confidence in the charitable sector. They also recognised the value of the information for providing insights into the sector that would inform policy making and support their own work to build a strong and effective charitable sector.

How it works

Updated daily, the online Charities Register provides information about more than 27,800 registered charities.

  • It gives details about a charity’s purpose and services, which sector it works in, where it operates and who its beneficiaries are.
  • It has information about how it is governed (including who its officers are) and contact details.
  • It provides the charity’s financial returns and annual returns.

 

 Screenshot from the Register showing annual returns for a charity.

 

Who gets money from donations? Who doesn’t? Where are charities located? Who has the most volunteers? Which charities have the biggest asset base?

The Charities Register allows researchers to search, sort and group data to get a wide range of insights about the charitable sector in New Zealand.

 

Screenshot from the Register showing the advanced search interface.

 

Benefits

  • The public and funders – can use the information to make better-informed decisions about registered charities they may wish to support financially or volunteer for.
  • Organisations – may use the register to find out more about registered charities they may wish to work with.
  • Government and decision makers – can use the information when making or influencing policy and strategic decisions.
  • Researchers – can gain an understanding of different aspects of the charities sector and its activities. This in turn can help Charities Services support and build a strong and effective charitable sector.
  • Registered Charities – can benefit from improved public trust and confidence because information about their activities and the way they use their resources is openly available.

Challenges

The data in the Register is self-reported by charities (as part of the Annual Return process): therefore, Charities Services has limited control over its quality and cannot verify its accuracy. However, having the data available in a useful and re-usable format is more valuable to the sector than not making it available at all. With the introduction of financial reporting standards, Charities Services expect that the data provided by charities will improve as they see the benefits flow from its use and there is an increase in awareness about the public visibility of data on the Register.

 

This case study was updated on 18 August 2017.


 

Re-use of this case study is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand Licence.