Charities Act Submission

SociaLink has prepared the following submission on the Review of the Charities Act 2005. We encourage other social sector organisations to use this submission as a base or just copy and submit on your own behalf. A summary of the recommendations follows or you can download and read the full submission here.

Summary of Recommendations

  • That the timing of the review be extended to incorporate broader terms of reference and a first principles review, and be undertaken by the Law Commission.
  •  That the Department of Internal Affairs refer the review of the Charities Act 2005 to the Law Commission along with the current public submissions.
  •  An independent crown entity be established for the charitable/not for profit sector.
  •  SociaLink supports the inclusion of the additional purpose outlined on page 17 of the discussion document that is based on the objective of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission Act 2012, section 15-5(1) (b):
  • to support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative charities sector.
  •  That appropriate mechanisms be established for charitable trusts to have the right to appeal decisions made about them under the auspices of the Act.
  •  That Charities should be able to undertake advocacy as they see fit, as an activity to further their purpose.
  •  SociaLink endorses any calls for more resource and attention on reducing complexity and streamlining legislation and regulation affecting Māori charities and their purpose.

Leadership Transitions are an opportunity for change

Nothing challenges the complacency of a board like the resignation of the organisation’s manager (AKA CEO, Executive Director, or the myriad of other names for the person who runs the place). All governance models, theories and personal experience point to recruitment of this person being one of the most important jobs a board has is to carry out.

Finding the right person is paramount and good processes can avoid expensive bad decision making, time wasting, and depletion of energy. In our sector there are many examples of good practice. I have participated in, supported, and led, several leadership transitions.  This has been a privilege and learning opportunity, as I’ve had the opportunity to observe what works, and what creates stumbling blocks.  Here’s the summary:

It all starts with the board

The shift to a new leader is the time when a board should make sure the organisation strategy is current, relevant, and clearly articulated. The Strategic Plan needs to be the foundation document on which to base recruitment. The goal is to hire the best person to achieve the organisation’s vision, in relation to where the organisation is at in its life cycle, not the person who is as much as possible like the person you are replacing.

The goal is to hire the best person to achieve the organisation’s vision, … not the person who is as much as possible like the person you are replacing. 

While the board is clarifying the strategy, and the skills and competencies of the person they see could achieve the strategy, it is also time to get the governance house in order. In my experience, it is the boards who review their own performance (and particularly their relationship with the manager), and who are clear what type of board they want to be, that successfully and more easily welcome in a new leader.

Boards who think they can sit back once they have the new person in place are sadly mistaken. As much as this is a particularly important time in the life cycle of the organisation, it is also a particularly important time in the life cycle of the board – one where a partnership approach is required. I have observed many new leaders needing ongoing board support, sometimes for up to a year. Not for profit leadership is complex and expecting a superhuman to walk in and take over from day one is a recipe for chaos.

Not for profit leadership is complex and expecting a superhuman to walk in and take over from day one is a recipe for chaos.

The outgoing person is in there too

While succession is without a doubt the board’s job, I am yet to see a successful transition where the outgoing leader has not made a concerted effort to ensure the recruitment process is well informed and supported. No-one else know the intricacies of the role and they usually have the right stakeholder connections, networks and relationships in place.

I have seen both successes and disasters when it comes to the outgoing leader being on the selection committee. Like much of not for profit leadership, the answer to the question of the virtue of this is “it depends”. Boards need to ask what the benefits and risks are of them being on the team.

It takes a village to recruit a new leader

It is the connections and networks the exiting leader and board have that usually brings the next leader. The new person is often recruited either from within or are sent by the community of stakeholders. It is worth keeping in mind stakeholders and members have a vested interest in making sure the right person is in the job and it is my experience there are genuine risks to be considered and managed (but not impossibly so), when an organisation recruits outside of their constituency.

I am often asked whether the tasks of recruitment (i.e. advertising, recruitment, shortlisting etc) should be outsourced. I have seen this work both very well, and disastrously. See my previous article on selecting the right consultant for your organisation.

The best board recruitment sub-committees (and having one is a success factor) I have worked with include board members who have: experience with recruitment; diverse worldviews; and are able to ask critical (as in analysis, not criticising) questions. Even better are the sub-committees who include an external stakeholder on the team.

It might just be me, but the actual tasks required to recruit someone are not rocket science, but a Recruitment Plan is in fact, essential. Use someone else’s template, or list the tasks and work backwards from when the new person needs to start. Be prepared to be startled as to how long recruitment takes. The process is likely to not go to plan 100%, but a framework reduces the risk of the process going off the rails.

When it comes to choosing the best person, I have identified three essential selection tasks that lead to success.  Firstly, the importance of referees cannot be understated and should include informal inquiry around the sector. Secondly, applicants presenting a strategy or some thoughts about their role in the interview is like reading a book about who they are and how they think, so it’s worth asking for this. Finally, listen for clues (and red flags) from both the applicant and their referees with regards to their values and their relationship skills. Here’s the thing about our sector:  Hard skills can be taught, or even outsourced. But how someone builds and maintains relationships is usually about who they are as a leader.

This is about change management

Bringing a new leader in to the organisation will alter the dynamics of the staff and volunteer teams, and there will be a change in management/leadership approaches. Successful transitions are evident when the board and new leader work in partnership to manage this change, and it is done in a deliberate and thoughtful way.

Successful transitions are evident when the board and new leader work in partnership to manage this change, and it is done in a deliberate and thoughtful way.

We know that communication is the essence of good change management and it needs to be evident throughout with a Transition Plan. Again, putting it down on a shared document helps to stay on track without being rigid. Timely communications to the right people, with the right information, and in the right way, will make or break the transition.

Finally, how a board says “Goodbye” and “Welcome” at the same time is when we see an organisation’s values in action. I have noticed that when this is done well it provides energy and positivity to the change taking place.

Summary of the Key points in case you’re skim reading

Successful transition is not just a checklist of administration tasks, it requires:

·         Organisation and governance readiness.

·         A collective approach from the board, outgoing manager, and stakeholders and members.

·         Good management of the process, including a recruitment committee and a Recruitment Plan.

·         Using hiring tools to support the right selection.

·         A change management approach.

One last thing. An experienced organisation development coach once told me that a good question for boards to ask themselves is: “What will the board who are in place in 10 years’ time think of our choice of leader?” In line with most governance functions the answer is: “If we keep it strategic, we’re doing our job”.

Sandy Thompson

A new legal structure for social enterprise

Legal structure s currently available to New Zealand social enterprises are essentially limited to for-profit and non-profit categories. Social enterprises operate via a ‘profit-for-purpose model’, so organisations face challenges when choosing a particular legal structure . The choice has implications for legal activity, access to funding, and governance obligations.

There are existing ways to creatively address these challenges, including altering company constitutions, or using multiple structures. However, these solutions do not address the fundamental issue that social enterprise currently lacks a recognised and unique identity, which has consequences for the overall sector and impedes access to both public support and investment. Furthermore, the creative solutions are expensive and inaccessible for many social enterprises, which have limited resources and access to legal support.

Overseas, new hybrid legal structures have been created, which are uniquely suited to supporting social enterprises’ needs. These include the Public Benefit Corporation in the United States (in 32 states) and Community Interest Company in the United Kingdom. The creation of a legal structure for social enterprise in New Zealand would deliver significant benefits for the sector. This could be designed to enable enterprises to flourish, and allow them enough flexibility to each determine their own needs while still remaining accountable to the benefit they set out to deliver. Fundamentally, a new structure would increase the legitimacy of the sector and attract the benefits of a recognised identity.

Ākina seeks feedback on this paper with a view to engaging with Government in 2018. Please contact info@akina.org.nz for more information or to provide feedback.

Download the full report here.A New Legal Structure for Social Enterprise in New Zealand


Free Online Training

Below is a wide selection of organisations that will host FREE online learning. The selection is wide and varied. Almost anything you could want for is available at varying levels. Some are available with assessment and certification also.


An education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take.  The courses do not equate to credits at the Universities.  Courses available include, for example:

  • Neuroscience: Perception, action and the brain
  • Introduction to psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Reasoning, data analysis and writing
  • Introduction to public speaking
  • The clinical psychology of children and young people

Future Learn

Free online courses from top universities and specialist organisations.

International online learning provider FutureLearn is offering a free online course on violence against women, starting this week.

The course, Understanding Violence Against Women: Myths and Realities takes two hours a week for six weeks.

Key topics covered include:

  • Key concepts – Gender, Power and Violence
  • Defining and explaining Violence Against Women
  • Impact of Violence Against Women from a range of perspectives
  • Media and Cultural representations of Violence Against Women
  • Public and Professional responses to Violence Against Women
  • Preventing Violence Against Women – national and international approaches

National Learning Centre for Child Traumatic Stress

This learning centre is offered as part of the US based National Child Traumatic Stress Network Center (NTCSN) offers over 300 free trauma focused online courses.


website is affiliated with the University of Nottingham

Privacy Commission

Office of the Privacy Commissioner

Privacy 101 –  The material aims to introduce you to key concepts and definitions contained in the Privacy Act, including a brief discussion about the interface between the Official Information Act (OIA) and the Privacy Act.  It focuses on the 12 informatio Save & Exit n privacy principles contained in the Privacy Act.

Alcohol Harm Prevention Resources

7 posters that Tauranga Moana Safe City has developed in conjunction with Tauranga City Council, WBOP District Council and the Police as part of an alcohol harm reduction project they are running this summer.  These are ready to be disseminated to any organisation you think might be interested in them.  Please note that the websites (as displayed on the posters) are not live yet.

What about you? A3 posters

Stop the Supply Posters