Online charities registrations already proving a hit with users

While the paperwork for manual registration can take hours or days going back and forth, electronic registration can be done in minutes

The Charities Commission’s new online registration system is functioning well and attracting a lot of custom, the commission says.

About 20% of the applications for registration of charitable organisations that have been received since the system went live in February have come through the online channel, says the commission’s chief executive, Trevor Garrett.

Electronic registration “obviously saves us time”, he says. All the information about charities goes on a public register, so having it in electronic form saves re-keying. But the purpose of the system is more to save time for the applicant.

The advantage is obvious at the applicants end of the process, since the application requires citations from the body’s constitution, plus related documents, and many of these will exist in digital form.

The paperwork for manual registration can take hours or days going back and forth. In contrast, the fastest electronic registration yet recorded was done in just 12 minutes, Garrett says.

Some applicants have “got lost in the system”, he acknowledges. But the helpdesk has been able to sort most problems out.

The system was developed on a Microsoft platform using Sharepoint and Microsoft CRM without going to competitive tender for the software — a process which drew a protest from the New Zealand Open Source Society in January.

The registration system as a whole is above the $100,000 threshold at which government requires an open tender. But the software only accounted for a fraction of the cost, Garrett told Computerworld.

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