More Reason for Transperancy

​Seeing the item in the NZ Herald about the Halberg Trust  just reinforces that even more transperancy is needing in the charity sector.

There’s no denying that the amount of money raised, versus amounts distrubuted, used, will be different – there will be operational costs. 

But when people see high operational costs versus distributions they will be concerned, ask questions and want answers; real answers not just some lip service.

It’s time, nah, it’s long overdue for organisations to be more open about their income v expenditures, they can’t simply leave it until people ask questions; all this does is raise more quesions, not only of the organisation concerned, but of the sector as a whole.

Looks Like a Charity Beat Up

A New Plymouth (New Zealand) charity – Roderique Hope Trust which provides emergency housing has recently leased a property to house people in urgent need of housing. But, this doesn’t seem to have gone down too well with others who have properties on the street.

One person, who’s daughter has a property on the street, has apparently threatened to sue if the value of her property decreases because of the Trust providing accommodation.

How can this be ok to even think about? As one person who commented on the item on has said, “Do the residents of the street vet ALL people buying or renting in “their” street?  I bet they don’t!   How do they know that “that sort of person” became homeless due to accident, illness, redundancy or other reasons, and are perfectly respectable people?   This looks like a severe case of Nimby-ism”. This commenter is right in his/her thinking.

All too often we see community organisations taking action to help others in the community only to face a backlash, this time it seems as though the threat of legal action is only one part of the potential backlash, but it also seems that this could be a media beat up.

It would appear that Roderique Hope Trust have tried to keep the local residents informed, the fact that a meeting was planned for a long weekend is perhaps not a good thing, although it wasn’t organised by the Trust; but whoever organised it should have taken into account that some “players” wouldn’t be available.

We need organisations like Roderique Hope Trust helping in the emergency housing area, but we run the risk of others taking a step back if threats such as the one in this article are made to other providers.

Let’s hope there’s a good outcome to this and that the Trust moves ahead with their plan, it would seem that the owner of the property has no issues, only a handful of local residents who seem to feel they have been left out of discussions.

Let’s hope common sense prevails.






Grant Thornton Survey

The Grant Thornton Survey is conducted every two years, and from my take on the results non-profits are still facing the same issues as were indicated in the last survey results.

Smaller non-profits are still concerned about where they are at, where their money will come from.

And, again the issue of how organisations relate to their Board is also an ongoing concern (something I am concerned about – to me a Board should be more than a group of people who “”sign off” a Board should be active).

Read the full report here 

What are your concerns, issues … what needs to change? I’d be keen to know what your take is on where your organisation is now, and what you need to get it from where you are now to where you want it to be. Either leave a comment or email me



Changes are Afoot

​Non-Profits Being Hit

Seems that times are a changing for non-profits, we’ve heard recently that budgeting services have had funding cuts, now we’re hearing that other social agencies will have to ”disclose” details about the people they assit in order to maintain funding levels.

Some of the changes may not appear too bad, with some explanation being for the changes being that it is a way to help reduce operational, backroom costs; something that is perhaps needed. But is a heavy handed approach, as these changes seem to be, the way to go?

There’s no denying that there are duplication of services being provided within the non-profit sector, with each competing for a slice of the funding pie.

If there are several organisations working in the same space, it would make sense where possible for them to work closer to help reduce oerational costs. And, yes, there are organisations now working more closely to help reduce overall costs, but more could still be done.

When it comes to disclosure of client information, names, addresses, gender etc, this becomes worrying. 

With some organisations assisting vunerable people being asked to provide such personal information in order to gain or maintain funding it screams of Big Brother.

What’s wrong with the way things have done previously, a summary of clients assisted seems to have worked well. 

What will Government agencies use the personal information for?

How will clients, particularly those who are vulnerable, victims of crime etc react, will it cause some to not seek help out of fear of their personal information being misused (lost)?

Will your organisation be affected by these changes?

If you support organisations that maybe affected by these changes, will this have any impact on your continued support?

Questions need to be asked of Government agencies as to what are the REAL purposes of these changes?

Philanthropy – Truly Selfless or Not?

Great article in Idealog magazine recently, and had to share it here.

Should philanthropy be truly selfless?
Opinion: At a time when our daily news is full of stories about communities in need, the international impact of the refugee crises, and child poverty closer to home, why are businesses giving less?

Philanthropy New Zealand’s recent report, Giving New Zealand: Philanthropic Funding 2014, shows that corporate philanthropy is down, suggesting kiwi businesses simply aren’t as generous as they were. The Harvard Business Review was saying the same thing about US corporates almost 15 years ago.

At a time when our daily news is full of stories about communities in need, the international impact of the refugee crises, and child poverty closer to home, why are businesses giving less?

In 2002, in the Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer put it down to executives finding themselves in “no-win” situations; “caught between critics demanding ever higher levels of corporate social responsibility and investors applying relentless pressure to maximize short-term profits.” They claimed that “justifying charitable expenditure” was becoming near impossible.

Read the full article on Idealog

The Demise of the Charity Shop

With recent news that Save the Children will be closing their stores it’s timely to see what’s happening, what’s changed.

Save the Children, isn’t the first and it won’t be the last to close up shop.

At one time generous landlords gave organisations cheap rentals and even reduced other costs associated with renting shop space. This has changed with landlords now, in the main, charging market rents.

With market rents being charged organisations have had little choice but to no longer sell items for $1 or $2 dollars, but to increase some prices; sure there are still great bargains and, remember every purchase benefits the organisation no matter the price, even that five cent spoon purchase has a benefit.

There is, in my opinion, also been a growth in the number of organisation having a “retail” presence, this has created competition with people having more choice as to where they can shop for a bargain. Not unlike mainstream retail.

Sure, we will see fewer organisations with a retail presence, but they will continue to be there. Some will still sell items to raise funds, but this will likely be, as it is already, be online through the likes of TradeMe.

Others will start using other methods, social enterprise for one. With some organisations already looking at this as a means to raise funds with little, in some cases no overheads; yet still making use of donated items to create an income stream away from grants etc.

Charity Shakeup – A New Zealand Initiative Discussion Paper

If you haven’t seen “Giving Charities a Helping Hand”  by Jason Krupp at the New Zealand Initiative, take the time and have a read now.

Download Research Notes (PDF)

“These are significant privileges, which is why it is important that only groups with a genuine charitable purpose be entitled to receive them.

“Yet as Giving Charities a Helping Hand argues, the regulations governing the sector have set the test of charitable purpose so high that many small groups cannot attain, or struggle to maintain, registered charity status. At the same time, commercial firms owned by charities are allowed to retain profits without paying tax on these funds. Indeed, there is little oversight over how these funds are used, and the current regulations create the potential for unfair completion in the market.

“This report puts forward three policy proposals to remedy this situation, namely to:

  • re-examine the centuries-old definition of charitable purpose,
  • restore much needed procedural fairness to the legislation, and
  • Tax all for-profit firms equally, but make all donations to charity tax deductible.

“These reforms are aimed at helping the sector, with the benefits accruing to charities, and ultimately the communities and causes they serve.”

Charities Ignore Donor Preferences – Study Says

An interesting read in this article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Charities Ignore Donor Preferences, Study Says

Donors and the nonprofit organizations they support financially have different views on optimum fundraising and communication practices, and that disconnect results in lost donations, a new study has found.

Nonprofits were 10 times more likely than donors to say that their organizations are not communicating enough with supporters, while donors regard the information they receive from charities as adequate or, in many cases, far too frequent.

The study, which also examined differences among four generations of donors, found that most charities use only one piece of information — how much each person contributes — to shape the communications their supporters receive while ignoring other important factors.

About 55 percent of millennial donors, ages 18 to 34, said that text messages from charities were desirable or acceptable once in a while. That percentage declined with age. Forty-two percent of Generation X donors, ages 35 to 50; 24 percent of baby boomers, ages 51 to 69; and 9 percent of seniors, 70 and older, approve of text messages.

And while nearly 80 percent of millennials said they would welcome or accept occasional thank-you gifts from charities they support, fewer donors in each successive generation said so, with only 48 percent of seniors open to getting thank-you gifts from the charities they support.

Continue Reading here

Who holds the keys to change?

Getting change to occur in any organisation is difficult. Often it seems even more so in the NFP/charity sector. We explore some of the reasons why and seek to answer the question; “Who holds the most effective keys to facilitating change.”

If you’re involved in the charity/non-profit sector, this piece by Craig Fisher of RSM Hayes Audit is worth a read.


We all know the truism that “change is constant”.  And it is.  However in many organisations, being able to instigate change, or effectively respond to change, is often very difficult.  Generally the barrier to change is not the nature of the changes needed, but rather the emotional or human barriers to accepting the need and then moving to doing something about it.

Interestingly this situation is usually more pronounced in NFP organisations than it is in For-Profit organisations.   This is understandable when you consider some of the key differences between the two types of organisations.  This includes that most For-Profit organisations are generally more command and control in operational style, and more binary in their decision making, i.e. the driver for most decisions are: Will this make us more money – yes or no?

NFPs by contrast are commonly much softer in governance and management style because they often involve elements of volunteering and social motivation, as well as being driven more by service delivery rather than a single minded financial profit driver like the majority of For-Profit businesses.

Sadly however this can translate into NFPs being much more inefficient in how they do what they do, and much more resistant to change.  By not being forced to innovate as much as many For-Profit entities they can become flabby and inefficient.  Conversely, some NFPs are too lean, such that innovation is unable to flourish through lack of skills, time and resources.

Ironically though given the above, in times of financial crises or stress it is usually NFPs that will survive, or survive longer than many For-Profits.  Even though they don’t have the same single minded focus on their financial bottom line and financial sustainability, when times get tough their key stakeholders will generally support them “just enough” so they can struggle on.  Whereas by contrast, the situation for companies is much more binary; they either make enough money to stay in business or they go out of business.

Related to the above is the concept that; starvation often forces innovation.  And those that don’t innovate generally decline.

Continue Reading here

What’s Working, Do You Monitor?

Often non-profits are so focused on what they’re doing that they don’t always know what’s happening in the sector as a whole.

But, it can be beneficial to an organisation to know what others are doing, how they’re doing it and what results they are getting.

Market intelligence can be a silver bullet for an organisation, it could be all that’s needed to help re-focus where, when and how they do something.

Someone in the organisation should be charged with the responsibility of “sector research” and report any findings to the board or senior management; so as they have a handle on what is happening.

Research could include; subscribing to newsletters, updates from other organisations, setting up alerts to see what others are doing when it comes to web activity.

You could find with this research that others are using language different to that you’re currently using and gaining better results; it could be that you’ll find that it’s the timing of communications that have a better response.

Without market intelligence you could simply be running blind and could well be missing opportunities and of course much needed funds.

Are you monitoring what others in the sector are doing?
Have you changed the way you do things as a result of what you’ve learned?