Trust Management encourage staff to regularly attend conferences to maintain our position at the forefront of issues affecting the sector in which we operate.
One such such example was the attendance of Anne Edwards at the 2019 New Zealand Charities Conference, “future prospects for charity law, accounting, and regulation”.
Building on the success of 2018, this multi-disciplinary conference covered legal, accounting and related practical issues associated with the charitable sector, and aimed to:
Inform and educate on important topics for charities
Strengthen links, contacts and collaboration within the sector community
Share lessons learnt and best practice that have worked for others, within New Zealand and beyond
Stimulate discussion and input into the review of the Charities Act 2005.
The hosts brought together a wide range of voices and perspectives to consider the issues before us all. This conference provided opportunities for rich conversation on the review of the Charities Act and what the framework of charity law should look like in the future.
The conference covered a wide number of topics including:
“Do charities need to be regulated?”; Opinions varied from not wanting regulations but accountability for charities, with charities monitored to ensure that they act in furtherance of their stated charitable purposes and only intervention in terms of serious wrongdoing. Another speaker compared the current framework with charities to swimming between the flags without knowing where the flags were placed.
“Accumulation or application"; - what to do about charities’ reserves?”; Holding accumulated funds without clear explanation may cause public concern that a charity is not using its funds for charitable purposes. Concerns have also been raised regarding charities with businesses that apply very little or no funds to charitable purposes. The Tax Working Group raised the issue of private foundations with minimal use of the foundations’ funds for charitable purposes, with no particular distributions policy and no rationale for accumulation except a desire for the fund to be self-sustaining in the future, or for distributions to occur years after donation tax relief has been obtained. On the other side, how should charities allocate benefits over time – as between current and future generations – so as to enhance fairness and efficiency and thus the public benefit achieved? This is particularly relevant for Art Foundations which are aiming to build endowment funds to ensure the future of their art form. The Te Papa Foundation has an inspirational goal of building an endowment fund of $50m. This compares to the Boston Symphony Orchestra with an endowment fund of $700m.
“Future of charities and tax”; The panel considered the current business income tax exemption. Currently 30% of charities have trading activities in NZ such as commercial property investment, shops, retirement villages, and farming. The trading entity must now also be a registered charity (amendment application from 1 April 2019). The Tax Working Group raised the issue of whether the exemption should apply only to the extent that the business income is used for charitable purposes, and whether it would apply if there was accumulation of income.
“Governing charities”; Matters of governance are a key issue across the charitable sector. The panel of speakers explored the impact of the new Trusts Bill in front of Parliament which affects charities which are trusts. In the new Bill, for the first time, there are some stated mandatory and default trustee duties. Mandatory duties apply, regardless of the rules set out in the trust deed. Default duties apply unless changed by the trust deed’s rules. The panel discussed the appearance of a hierarchy of governance in New Zealand, from companies directors to paid and unpaid not for profit organisations and schools board of governors. The panel also stressed the need to get youth interested in governance and the need to be making space for new and different models of governance. The panel also asked for more support to enhance the behavioural skills needed to make a strong board.
If you would like to know more about the conference, do not hesitate to contact Anne Edwards, GM Finance.
2019 New Zealand Charities Conference