Finding our place in the charity sector
As we incorporate as a charitable trust it is timely to reflect on the organisational structure, responsibilities of trusteeship and compliance requirements arising therefrom.
While, on the face of it, not much will change in operational terms, the church council acting as trustees will acquire the legal status of a board with certain prescriptive requirements. St Aidans will also become part of a wider community of 27,000 registered charities that play a meaningful role in the social fibre of New Zealand.
A recent report by Pro Bono Australia stated religious activity as the highest rated interest sector. This may come as a surprise, considering declining affiliations to faith based institutions. However, if seen in the context of the wider picture of representation, we see a multitude of small diverse groups not only of the Christian persuasion, but with a growing presence of migrant communities extending into the other main denominations. While, on the face of it, this proliferation indicates a vibrancy in spiritual pursuits, it also introduces competition for participants and adherents to carry the message and contribute financially.
The organisational demands on small congregations, as we know from our experience, can be out of proportion with the perceived benefits of affiliation and become more burdensome with further contractions arising from aging membership and diminishing resources. This out of necessity influences the attitude of prospective members in need of spiritual guidance and faith based fellowship in their choice of congregations. In offering a variety of activities, both instructional and recreational to take advantage of our facilities and location, St Aidan’s is well placed to supplement its income in support of its Christian mission provided it can rely on a sufficient number of volunteers to direct and implement such activities.
As a charitable trust it is entering a bigger playing field of good causes seeking attention, participation and financial support in competition with other public benefit entities that may have a greater claim to attention and with it the financial support it requires. Health, welfare and rehabilitation stand out as more deserving of public and private funding than religion and account for the greatest demand. Our challenge is to position ourselves along other need fulfilling providers with realistic prospects of recognition and reward.