Published 15 March 2022
Many people have questions about donating, whether it’s members of the public wanting to donate to charitable entities, or registered charities wanting to donate to other organisations.
On this page you will find answers to the common questions about donations and guidance on how to donate safely.
Donating to a Charity
Who should I donate to?
It's generally best to donate or volunteer for charities that you already know and trust, or those you have researched and in which you have confidence. You might like to start your research by looking at the Charities Register(external link).
When addressing local issues, remember most local charities will have an established relationship with their community. They can understand first-hand what is needed and how they can best assist.
In other situations, you may find many larger, well established aid agencies operating at a national (or international) level are used to dealing with crisis recoveries and their longer-term effects. They often have the networks, infrastructure, and expertise and systems in place to respond quickly to disasters.
Can I claim a tax credit for my donation?
Yes, if you donate to a charity or other organisation that has donee status.
Donee status is administered by Inland Revenue. Most charities registered with Charities Services are eligible for donee status.
If your employer offers payroll giving, and you make donations to a donee organisation directly from your pay, you will receive an immediate tax credit on the amount of your donation.
How can we check to see that a charity is registered with Charities Services?
You can ask collectors for the charity's registration number, and either check the number on the Charities Register(external link) or call 0508 CHARITIES and our staff can check the Charities Register for you. If the organisation is not registered it may not really be a charity, even if it is supporting a good cause. It is also possible that the supposed "charity" is bogus.
Remember to ask how your donation will be used - Charities Services can investigate where misconduct and wrongful use of charity money is suspected.
What can we do if a collector approaches us to make a donation?
Don't be shy about asking to see identification, or asking them to call back after you have had an opportunity to phone the charity. If they are a registered New Zealand charity they will have a charity number starting with CC. Falsely claiming to be a registered charity is an offence. If you suspect fraud, you can contact the police or report the incident to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phone/telemarketing appeals, on-street collectors, and spam emails
Many phone callers or on-street collectors asking for donations represent profit-making agencies who keep part of your donation for themselves or charge fees for their fundraising services. Find out if the person works for a telemarketing or fundraising company, or whether they are a volunteer or employee of the charity itself. You may prefer to donate directly to the charity.
Phone collectors and spam emails may ask for your credit card number or bank account details. If you do prefer to make a donation over the phone, make sure the charity is well known. Look up the charity's number and call them back yourself, especially if they contacted you by phone or email. Don't reply or click on links sent to you in spam email. Some of these emails may contain a virus.
Where can I find out more about avoiding scams?
Netsafe(external link) and CERT NZ(external link) are the experts on staying safe online in New Zealand. CERT NZ has developed a list of tips(external link) to help you avoid online scams and attacks.
Donating as a charity
Can a charity make donations?
Charities can make donations in the form of grants to individuals or other entities, ongoing donations, or even one-off donations to causes that further their charitable purpose. Often the first question is “Who can we donate to so we can be confident that our money goes to the people most in need?”
Can my charity or funder give money to overseas charities?
Yes, a registered charity can send funds overseas, as long as it will advance your charitable purpose and is consistent with your rules. You can check your charitable purpose and your rules document on the Charities Register(external link).
We want to make a donation to a New Zealand charity that works overseas. How can we find out more about them?
If you are donating to a New Zealand registered charity that works internationally you can look them up on the Charities Register(external link).
How can we make sure our donations get where they need to go?
When donating internationally, local governments will usually have lists of approved or registered agencies operating in specific crisis areas. Many governments, including the UK, Australia, and Canada, have their own public register of charities as well:
- Charity Commission for England and Wales(external link)
- Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission(external link)
- Government of Canada List of Charities(external link)
It’s always worth checking local registers first, and contacting them for more information. In addition, we have guidance on what you should do to ensure your donation has an impact(external link).
Will giving money to an overseas charity have an impact on my charity’s status as a donee organisation with Inland Revenue?
To qualify as a donee organisation, your funds must be “wholly or mainly” applied to purposes in New Zealand. You can find more information about what this means on Inland Revenue’s page on tax exemptions(external link), and a full interpretation here(external link).
If your intended donation will significantly change how you spend your funds for the year, we recommend you talk to Inland Revenue first via email email@example.com
Our charity works or gives overseas and we want to find out more about our tax and other obligations.
You can watch the webinar “Know more about your tax obligations(external link)” from Inland Revenue or look at Inland Revenue’s page on charities(external link). You can also watch our webinar on protecting your charity when giving money overseas(external link).
How do we find out what overseas/international charities are involved in the area that we want to donate in?
Local government will often have information on charities registered or operating in the area. If you still have questions, you can contact the charity and ask them how they plan to use donations.
The group we want to donate to is not a registered charity, is it ok to still donate to them?
There is no restriction in New Zealand to only give to registered charities. Many organisations are doing great work, but they may not be registered as a charity. You won’t be able to find them on our Register, but as most will have a website you can find more about their work there. They also may be incorporated as a society(external link) or trust board(external link) with the Companies Office where you can find more information.