A charitable trust is incorporated by applying to the Registrar of Incorporated Societies. The application includes a number of documents with the key document being the trust deed or rules for the charitable trust.

A charitable trust must have charitable purposes and these will be outlined in the trust deed. Charitable purpose includes:

  • The relief of poverty
  • The advancement of education or religion; or
  • Any other matter beneficial to the community

There must be a public benefit and not be any benefit for any private individual.

Some of the other aspects usually covered by the trust deed include:

  • Numbers of trustees
  • How trustees are appointed and removed
  • How meetings are held
  • Powers of trustees
  • How the trust deed may be varied
  • How the trust is wound up and what happens to the trust assets on a winding up

The trust deed or rules must be tailored to suit your particular organisation.

Once your charitable trust is incorporated you may also wish to become a registered charity on the Charities Register managed by Charities Services, which is part of the Department of Internal Affairs. Some of the benefits of being a Registered Charity include:

  • Eligible for exemptions from income tax
  • Eligible for donee organisation status so the public can make donations and claim a tax credit
  • Some funders only support Registered Charities
  • Improved public trust and recognition

Blackwells provides specialist legal services to charitable trusts and other not-for-profit groups from a range of sectors. We have experience in representing associations, clubs, churches, charities, sporting bodies, cultural groups, societies and colleges throughout New Zealand.

Our not-for-profit work involves incorporation and constitutional advice including governance and administrative matters, advising boards on regulatory compliance issues and updating their constitutional documents to meet statutory requirements.

We deal with contractual issues and assist not-for-profit clients with mergers, acquisitions and amalgamations. We have also acted on a number of joint ventures and commercial deals involving not-for-profit groups. Our experience includes dealing with lawyers from other jurisdictions and advising organisations in other countries about the legal requirements in New Zealand which govern not-for-profit organisations.