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COVID-19 Highlights The Importance Of Charity Communications Channels

Charities which have won accolades for the transparency and excellence of information in their financial reports have highlighted the same qualities as they continue to work in a COVID-19 environment.

Comprehensive Care, a not-for-profit Primary Health Organisation (PHO) based in Auckland, has picked up the New Zealand Charity Reporting Award for charities with more than $30 million in annual expenses. The awards, organised by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, recognise best practice among registered charities in meeting financial reporting standards.

The PHO’s Chief Executive John Ross said “the current Covid-19 pandemic makes the work of organisations like ours more important and more challenging.

“It will require new ways of working for us all and our financing needs are already changing as a result. From ensuring essential supplies for frontline workers, developing transparent and effective communications channels and making sure up-to-date healthcare guidance is available for those who need it.”

Peter Vial, New Zealand Country Head for CA ANZ, said follow-up conversations with the reporting award winners reveal that charities, like other organisations, face funding challenges and uncertainty following the COVID-19 outbreak, but they also struggle with their own particular circumstances.

Charlotte Delahunty from Bellyful (Tier 3 winner), which provides meals for families with newborn babies and families with young children around New Zealand, says that “during this lockdown phase we have paused deliveries by volunteers. We are looking forward to re-starting deliveries when we move to Level 3 next week.

“The COVID-19 situation has increased the stress on families who are experiencing serious illness, and who can no longer look to families or neighbours for support with meals. Bellyful is here to help.”

Sharon Orr, Acting CEO for The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ (Tier 2 winner) says “we are ensuring the safety of our Pacific neighbours is of utmost priority.

“The reason our foundation exists is because health systems in the Pacific are still developing. Someone who is blinded by cataracts might not be able to access eye care services due to limited medical structures.

“It is the same for the treatment of COVID-19 – healthcare systems in the Pacific will reach full capacity a lot sooner than ours in New Zealand.”

The lockdown is also an opportunity for some charities.

Tier 4 winner, The Reading Revolution which runs shared reading groups, has set up five online shared reading groups for its communities in Auckland and one in Eltham in partnerships with their libraries.

Kate Middleton says shared reading is designed to alleviate loneliness and isolation “so we are excited to be able to serve our communities online at a time when so many more people are feeling the effects of this.”

Vial said charities were a critical “shock absorber” when a crisis hits. “The Government has stepped in with extensive relief efforts through programmes like the wage subsidy, but charities also need to be looked after so they can continue to fill those support gaps where the Government can’t, and perhaps shouldn’t, step in.”

Charity reporting awards results

Tier 1

Winner – Comprehensive Care PHO -

Highly Commended/Runner Up – Barnados NZ Incorporated

Tier 2

Winner – Fred Hollows Foundation

Highly Commended/Runner Up – DV Bryant Trust

Tier 3

Winner – Bellyful NZ

Highly Commended/Runner Up – Te Hou Ora Whanau Services

Tier 4

Winner – The Reading Revolution

Highly Commended/Runner Up – Citizens Advice Tauranga

Innovation Award

Winner – Project Crimson (National)

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