Making a complaint

Charities Services may inquire into anyone alleged to be engaged in conduct that is in breach of the Charities Act 2005 or serious wrongdoing in connection with a registered charity.

What type of complaints does Charities Services deal with?

Charities Services receives a number of complaints from individuals with concerns about charities or people involved with them. As it is our role to promote public trust and confidence in the charitable sector, we investigate any suspected breaches of the Charities Act 2005 or wrongdoing in connection with a registered charity. We do not get involved in internal disputes related to governance or meeting protocol.

An inquiry is undertaken if it is considered reasonably necessary for the purposes of carrying out Charities Services’ functions and exercising its powers under the Act.

We also initiate our own inquiries and respond to information provided to us.

Examples of the types of issues that would justify a complaint to Charities Services could include the following, where there is a perceived risk of: 

  • significant financial loss to the charity, or the illegal or corrupt use of the charity's funds or resources
  • serious harm to beneficiaries (especially to vulnerable beneficiaries)
  • direct or indirect funding of terrorism
  • criminal activity within or involving a charity
  • sham charities set up for an illegal or improper purpose
  • charities deliberately being used for private pecuniary profit or to abuse New Zealand’s tax laws
  • where a charity's independence may be compromised
  • serious wrongdoing by a charity, its officers/trustees or employees, that damages or has the potential to damage its reputation and/or the reputation of the charitable sector
  • people collecting for non-existent charities or unauthorised people pretending to collect for registered charities
  • serious non-compliance in a charity which could constitute serious risk to public interest
  • damaging public trust and confidence in Charities Services  as an effective regulator.

How should I make a complaint to Charities Services?

You must submit your complaint to Charities Services in writing. You can do this by:

Investigations Team
Charities Services
Department of Internal Affairs
PO Box 12138
Wellington Central

What information should I give Charities Services?

We need as much information as possible, so we can effectively assess your complaint and decide the appropriate course of action. Be specific about breaches of the Act or acts of serious wrongdoing that you believe have occurred. 

It would be helpful if you provided the following:
  1. the name of the charity and its Charities Services registration number
  2. the name of any people involved
  3. the allegation against the charity or people
  4. the effect on the charity
  5. any actions you have taken regarding your concerns
  6. whether there has been any publicity surrounding the issue
  7. copies of documentary evidence supporting the complaint
  8. details of your dealings with the charity in relation to your concerns
  9. details of any dealings or correspondence you have had with other agencies regarding your concerns.

What details do I need to give Charities Services about myself?

You need to tell us your name, telephone number, postal address and email address (if you have one).

It is also necessary for you to tell us about any connection you have with the charity or the person you are complaining about.

We do assess complaints that are made to us anonymously – however, it is difficult for us to investigate and respond effectively to information we receive this way.

How long will it take for my complaint to be dealt with?

This depends on the nature and complexity of your complaint. The actions we need to take and the time it takes to complete an investigation varies depending on the complaint.

Will I hear back from Charities Services with an outcome?

Yes. We will acknowledge your complaint and let you know if we intend to take the matter further or refer it to another agency.

If we take up the matter for investigation, we will send you written advice with regard to the conclusions that have been reached and the process that will be followed. 

Does the Official Information Act apply to complaints?

Information relating to complaints is subject to requests under the Official Information Act 1982(external link).