Confusion but food for thought in Charities Report
“Confusion over figures and sectors should not obscure some useful insights contained in the recently-released JBWere report The New Zealand Cause Report: Shape of the Charity Sector”, says Social Equity and Wellbeing Network (SEWN) Kaituiora, Sharon Torstonson.
Generally, commentary in the report is careful to differentiate between the entire not-for-profit sector and its smaller subset of charities, but in some places it conflates the two, in other places it’s not clear which is being discussed, and a comparative table contains a mixture of data that creates a misleading picture.
“While the table says that the data is for the whole not-for-profit sector, it’s obvious that some of the figures relate only to the much smaller charity sub-sector”, says Sharon Torstonson.
“The table says that there are 27,380 not-for-profit organisations in New Zealand. In fact there are over 114,000. The smaller figure quoted is the number of registered charities in New Zealand. Figures for the workforce, the shape of the sector, and the income and expenditure all appear to be about the whole sector, while the $40 billion assets quoted are just for the charity sub-sector. It’s like having a mixture of apples and pears, but calling them all apples. Because of the differences between the two groups, the figures for one can’t be extrapolated to the other.”
After reviewing trends relating to income, expenditure and assets in both the wider sector and in the charity sector, the report makes a number of predictions for the sector. One that has made the headlines is the potential for mergers and acquisitions.
“Certainly this theme of ‘there’s too many groups’ is one we hear often in the not-for-profit sector” says Sharon Torstonson. “While there may be opportunities, it’s difficult to look from the outside in and say where this should happen. For instance, I could point to Russley, Shirley, McLeans Island and Tai Tapu golf clubs, all registered charities, and suggest that they should merge, but as I know very little about golf there may be very good reasons that I don’t understand as to why not. It’s the same with social service organisations and other fields in the charities sector.”
Other valuable discussion in the report includes the potential of organisations to self-generate more income, the need for funders to be prepared to fund risk in order to foster innovation, and better availability and use of data.
“In spite of the reservations we have around whether figures and discussion apply to the wider not-for-profit sector or just the charities sector, SEWN really values the insights and analysis that this report contributes”, says Sharon Torstonson. “We particularly appreciate the way that the report stresses the enormous value of the sector to our society’s wellbeing and applaud JBWere for this recognition.”
The New Zealand Cause Report: Shape of the Charity Sector: https://www.jbwere.co.nz/assets/Uploads/JBWereNZ-CauseReport-March2017-DigitalVersion2.pdf