A question frequently asked is “how many charities are there in NZ?” The enquirer is usually using the term ‘charity’ to include all manner of non-profit entities and it appears that no-one knows the answer for certain!

The Charities Services website  shows an updated count of the number of registered charities in NZ but not every non-profit is registered since a registered charity must meet the ‘charity test’. Organisations existing for political purposes, for example, whilst existing for non-profit purposes, are ineligible for registration – as are many Incorporated Societies.

In February 2014 Charities Services made this comment: ” [There are]  27,011 registered charities in New Zealand managing an asset base of $40 billion, they have an annual income of $15.1 billion – a large proportion of which comes from donations.”   (Note: 26 January 2017: 27,638 charities according to DIA Charities (A drop of around 200 in the previous 9 months))

In his book “Charity Law in New Zealand” published in 2013, author Dr Donald Poirier writes “In New Zealand, it is estimated that there are about 97,000 not-for-profit organisations.** In 2010 the Australian Productivity Commission reported on the contribution of the not-for-profit sector and found that Australia had about 600,000 not-for-profit organisations …

Not-for-profit organisations may take different legal structures. In New Zealand, it is estimated  that 61% of non-profit institutions are unincorporated societies.   There are
about 22,310 not-for-profit entities incorporated as societies under the Incorporated
Societies Act 1908 and 18,028 entities incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957.
The figures for charitable organisations registered with Charities Services, Department of Internal Affairs (Charities Services) are somewhat different. According to data published in October 2009, about two-thirds of registered charities are bodies corporate. These bodies corporate are divided as follows: 9,050 (39% of registered charities) are incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957; some 6,253 entities (26.1% of registered charities) are incorporated under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908; and finally, there were 834 companies incorporated under the Companies Act 1993 registered with the New Zealand Charities Commission in 2009. This represents about 4% of registered charities.”

The New Zealand Cause Report published by JB WERE in March 2017 stated: “The number of charities has grown substantially over time with New Zealand now having one organisation for every 170 people. This is substantially lower than any of Australia, Canada, United Kingdom or USA. Considering the governance requirements from Board members and the number of them required, this may also create a burden on an increasing number of supporters. Since 2010 there have been 2.5 new charities commence each business day.”  Elsewhere in the report, figures for the number of charities were kin the same general order of magnitude as in the earlier numbers in this article.

** In June 2016, Statistics NZ estimated that the “total number of non-profit institutions was 114,110 in 2013, up from 97,000 in 2004.” and stated that non-profits contribute $6 Billion to the NZ economy  <Read More>

See also: Definition of ‘non-profit’, ‘not for profit organisation’, or ‘charity’ – what’s the difference?