Our charitable sector stands out because of its ability to be flexible and innovative to new needs and demands.  We offer an immediate response and manage the risk of new ideas and processes better than both government and the commercial world.  This does not make us infallible and sometimes new ideas and approaches will fall over but our sector contains a wealth of talent and commitment that makes us the stand out force for good in New Zealand.

It is in all our interests to maximise this potential by ensuring benign and helpful legislation and allowing us to commit to third party (for profit) assistance with minimal regulatory oversight.  Risk minimisation is maintained by greater transparency and accountability not just to our donors and stakeholders but to the general public. 

The charitable sector continues to grow. Volunteerism is growing especially in culture and recreation although for fewer average hours.  Funding is an ongoing issue with more reliance on voluntary giving, charity trading and lessening dependency on government support.  This transition is proving painful with the less than full-cost funding of many services resulting in a substantial wage gap for charities’ staff which creates its own challenges in staff retention and quality.

The obvious solution to the wage disparity within our sector is to ensure an increase in funding.  Increasing government support is not the answer although more transitional assistance to build up capacity in undertaking tasks formerly done by government departments will be required. This increase in funding is starting to happen with more charities professionalising their fundraising with trained staff and expanding their professional development budgets to upskill where necessary.  We could do even more if the regulations bringing in skilled migrants were more flexible with importing skilled fundraisers from overseas to fill the gap between current needs and our outcomes from our FINZ education courses.

But even to get to this step requires charities to better recognise they are a business with charitable outcomes. This gets back to governance and this is best explained by quoting the Australian Stock Exchange in 2003 ... “Effective governance structures encourage businesses to create value through entrepreneurialism, innovation, development and exploration, and provide accountability and control systems commensurate with the risks involved”.  

FINZ is advocating, supporting and offering training in governance and keeping government aware of our concerns and needs. The Government’s planned customer focus in social service deliveries overlapping a number of government departments is a brave model that could be well suited to the future wellbeing of our sector.

James Austin


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