by Laurie Willetts
Every year New Zealanders donate billions of dollars to charities. Right now, the outpouring of grief and compassion by New Zealanders after the Christchurch shootings has been matched by the charitable donations with millions of dollars donated to various funds.
The Department of Internal Affairs has provided the following timely advice to make sure money raised ends up in the right hands and helps those in need.
They say registered charities have to publish their accounts, which means people can see where the money goes and how it is spent. Anyone can search the register here register.charities.govt.nz.
There are also many organisations that are doing great work in the community but aren’t registered charities. Most will have their own website or social media channel where people can find out more about them.
If you are approached at your home or on the street, you are entirely within your rights to ask to see identification or ask the collector to explain the work of the charity and how your donation will be used.
You can also ask how much of your donation will reach the cause. For example, 100 per cent of every dollar donated to the Christchurch Shooting Victims’ Fund run by Victim Support is used to help victims.
The Department of Internal Affairs has also taken the opportunity to warn about scams. It says sadly at times like these there always seem to be dishonest people who use the opportunity to take advantage of New Zealanders’ generosity. It could take the form of false representation in person or online.
The department says to follow your instinct — if it doesn’t look or feel right then hold off giving anything until you can get more information.
If you receive an email requesting a donation and it looks suspicious or asks for personal details such as your date of birth and bank account number, do not open or reply to the email delete it as it may contain links to viruses.
You can report suspicious emails to NetSafe.
If you want to donate online try and find a well-known platform, rather than using links in emails or on social media.
If you want to make a donation over the phone, make sure you’re dealing with the charity concerned. You can look up the charity’s phone number and call them back yourself.
For organisations wanting to raise funds in support of Christchurch, the department is offering its help. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 03 339 5538 or 0800 824 824.