Research into charities

One of Charities Services’ functions, under the Charities Act 2005(external link), is to promote research relating to charities.

Research into the charitable sector helps the public understand the work that charities do. This makes the sector more transparent, which contributes to increased public trust and confidence in charities. Research can also highlight challenges and opportunities in the charitable sector, and can inform public policy decisions that impact on charities.

Charities Services’ research strategy

Our research strategy shows how we plan to encourage research relating to charities.

The strategy outlines three broad outcomes that we will be working on through to the end of 2023:

  • improve the quality of the data and information on the Charities Register
  • improve access to the data and information on the Charities Register
  • collaborate and support research into the charitable sector.

The strategy also says how we plan to achieve these outcomes.

You can read the Charities Services research strategy here. [PDF, 136 KB]

The Charities Register

Making the data on the Charities Register available to researchers and members of the public is the main way we promote research.

The Charities Register is a publicly available database of information about registered charities. The Register holds information about more than 27,000 registered charities in Aotearoa, as well as a large number of charities that have been deregistered.

The wealth of useful data available on the Register is used by a range of people for different purposes. The Register helps the public and funders make informed decisions about which charities they want to support. The Register is also used by the charitable sector itself, government and researchers to assist in making or influencing policy and strategic decisions.

Our website has more information about the Charities Register(external link).

How to search the Charities Register

You can use the Charities Register to search for information about individual charities and the charitable sector as a whole.

There are two ways to search the Register: a basic search, and an advanced search. The basic search function allows you to find information about an individual charity. You can find the basic search function of the Charities Register here(external link).

The advanced search function provides more in-depth information from the database. You can search for specific information about all the charities on the Register, or narrow it down to a specific group of charities. Our Charities’ data ‘how-to’ guide(external link) shows how to use the advanced search.

You can find the advanced search function here(external link).

Our webinar ‘The Charities Register’ is another useful resource for those wanting to learn the most effective ways to search the Charities Register(external link).

Please note: You must not use the Charities Register to obtain email addresses of charities for the purposes of marketing or promoting goods or services, even where those goods or services are provided for free or at a reduced price. Using the Register for this purpose is an offense under New Zealand anti-spam law(external link).

The New Zealand charitable sector

We regularly publish data collected from the Charities Register. This can be used to understand the New Zealand charitable sector and the work charities do.

The information below covers some of the ways that we use the data on the Register to paint a picture of the charitable sector. The data is gathered from self-reported information from charities’ annual returns.

Quarterly snapshots of recently registered charities

We publish quarterly snapshots that include general information about recently registered charities. The snapshots include data on the main sectors, activities, beneficiaries, locations and entity types of recently registered charities.

Volunteer information

Registered charities provide information on their volunteers as part of their annual returns. The snapshot below shows the average number of volunteers, the average number of hours they work, and which regions and registered charities have the highest number of volunteers. Please note that individuals who volunteer with several registered charities may be counted multiple times.

2020 charities volunteering snapshot.(external link)

We encourage charities to keep accurate information about the support they receive from volunteers. Read more about why this is important and tips for collecting volunteer information here.(external link)

The charitable sector’s year in numbers

Every year we publish data about the charitable sector in the Charities Services Annual Review(external link).

You can view the data collected from the 2019/2020 financial year here. [PDF, 383 KB]

Research into the charitable sector

Charities Services’ research

Public trust and confidence in charities

Te whakapono me te whakamanawa tūmatanui ki ngā kaupapa atawhai

Every two years Charities Services commissions a survey to measure the levels of public trust and confidence in the charitable sector.

The results of the most recent survey, conducted in 2019, show that trust levels are moderate, at 5.9 out of ten.

Many factors contribute to the level of trust and confidence in the charitable sector. The results of the surveys show that these include: transparency around the use of charitable funds, knowing that charities are registered and regulated, and knowing that charities are making a positive difference.

The results of the 2019 survey into public trust and confidence in charities are available here.(external link)

Previous survey results are also available below:

The next public trust and confidence in charities survey is due to be conducted in late 2021.

Recent research about the charitable sector

State of the Sector Surveys
ComVoices conducts surveys every two years. The research provides up to date snapshots of the community and voluntary sector. You can find the State of the Sector Surveys here(external link).

COVID-19 Impact Report: 2020
The Centre for Social Impact, Hui E! Community Aotearoa, Philanthropy New Zealand and Volunteering New Zealand conducted research into the impact of COVID-19 on the community and voluntary sector. You can find the COVID-19 Impact report here(external link).

State of Volunteering in New Zealand Reports
Volunteering New Zealand regularly conduct surveys that are designed to capture a snapshot of the state of volunteering in New Zealand. You can find the State of Volunteering in New Zealand Reports here(external link).

Non-profit Institutions Satellite Account: 2018
Stats New Zealand’s most recent satellite account analyses the contribution of non-profit institutions to the New Zealand economy. The account found that non-profit institutions contributed $8.1 billion to GDP for the year ended March 2018. This equated to 2.8% of New Zealand’s total GDP. You can find the Non-profit Institutions Satellite Account: 2018 here(external link).

The New Zealand Support Report: 2020
JBWere, in collaboration with Philanthropy New Zealand, conducted research into philanthropy and grant making in the community sector. The report shows that philanthropic contribution is valued at $3.8b a year. You can find the New Zealand Support Report: 2020 here(external link).

Research Report: What is the Future for NGO Governance?
The Centre for Social Impact released this 2019 report looking at the future of governance in the not-for-profit sector. The research drew on interviews with leaders from 15 non-government organisations leaders. The resulting report identified barriers to good governance and what this means for the future of governance for the not-for-profit sector. You can find the report, What is the Future for NGO Governance here(external link).

Community Research
Community Research is a registered charity that collects research about New Zealand’s tangata whenua, community and voluntary sector. They share research on a diverse range of topics relevant to charities on their website. You can explore the research on Community Research’s website here. (external link)

If you are aware of any research published about the charitable sector, let us know by emailing info@charities.govt.nz and we will consider adding it to this page.

Research opportunities for charities

Where we become aware of research projects that may be of value to the charitable sector, we will promote these through our communication channels. These channels include our regular newsletters(external link) and our Facebook page.(external link)

If you are aware of any research opportunities for charities to participate in, let us know by emailing info@charities.govt.nz and we will consider promoting it through our communication channels.