Policy and Administrative Guideliness 2023


The Ethnic Communities Development Fund (ECDF) provides funding for community groups that are running initiatives or events in support of ethnic communities and that align with the Ministry’s strategic priorities.  The Ministry currently has $4.2 million annually available for projects that support ethnic communities.  The range of potential initiatives and projects that support these priorities is broad, however they must align with the Ministry’s’ Strategic Priorities and funding criteria. 

This policy outlines how the Ministry makes grant allocations and the requirements associated with accessing the fund.

Accountability for the fund

The Systems Capability and Programmes Directorate of the Ministry for Ethnic Communities administers the ECDF.  This includes supporting eligible organisations to apply for funds, assessing applications and reporting on the use of funds granted. Hāpai Hapori, the Community Operations Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs, makes payments of allocated funds on behalf of the Ministry and provides the grant management system that the Ministry uses to administer the ECDF.

The Ministry operates a panel of external advisors who assist in the assessment of grant applications and provide advice to the Ministry regarding which applications best support the Ministries’ priorities, noting that the fund is often oversubscribed.

Purpose of the fund

The ECDF’s purpose is to contribute to improving New Zealand’s social cohesion and supporting the development of established and emerging communities.  Funds partially or fully support a range of projects and events developed and implemented by community organisations across New Zealand.  The Fund is allocated monthly to ensure funding is available throughout the financial year.

Alignment with Strategic Priorities

The Ministry has four strategic priorities that grants from the fund must align with.  These priorities are to;

  • Take action to promote the value of diversity and improve inclusion of ethnic communities;
  • Ensure equitable provision of, and access to government services for ethnic communities;
  • Develop and support initiatives to improve economic outcomes, including addressing barriers to employment; and
  • Work to connect and uplift ethnic community groups.

Funding Criteria

Grant decisions are based on the likelihood that the completed project will deliver the benefits and outcomes described in the grant request and contribute to the purpose of the Fund and the Ministry’s Strategic Priorities.

Consequently, requests prioritised for funding will be those where the project is aligned with the purpose of the fund and one of the Strategic Priorities.  Applications must be able to demonstrate;

  • That the project will benefit an ethnic community or communities;
  • They are well designed and planned;
  • That the group has the capability and capacity to deliver a successful project;
  • They have a clear start and end date within the next year; and
  • The project will be undertaken in New Zealand.

Grant decisions must be fair, transparent, and robust.

Funding Guidance

In considering funs applications the following guidance is provided.

Faith based: Faith comprises an integral part of many ethnic identities, and the Ministry will consider supporting projects, if they do not promote religious ministry.

Interfaith: The Ministry recognises the importance of interfaith relationships and collaboration but does not prioritise requests for these over projects that identify specific ethnic community development.  Requests must be able to report on measurable outcomes for ethnic communities.

Nationality based commemorations/holidays: The Ministry will consider supporting nationality-based celebrations and commemorative events that meet the purpose and priorities of the Fund (e.g. national Independence days).

The Ministry recognises the importance of interfaith relationships and collaboration but does not prioritise requests for these over projects that identify specific ethnic community development.  Requests must be able to report on measurable outcomes for ethnic communities.

Publications: Publication projects should clearly show the reasons and requirements for the publication and evidence of deliverables and distributions.

Publication projects should clearly identify that alternative forms of funding have been explored and found to be unavailable.

Translation: The Ministry will not fund requests for translation services, unless there is evidence that the group has reasonably explored and exhausted other available services.  This may include support available from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Te Whatu Ora, etc.

Food Distribution: The Ministry does not fund food distribution projects, as there are numerous organisations undertaking this work.  Additional funding should be sought from the Ministry of Social Development.

Multi-year Funding: Funding towards multiyear projects is considered on a case by case basis and depends on evidence of the organisation’s ability and capability.

Language: The Ministry will prioritise requests for community-led and delivered language learning initiatives seeking to preserve and increase the use of a language other than English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language.

Salaries for language projects may be sought as part of funding applications but will be limited to a maximum contribution of $25 an hour.

Applications by Local Councils: Community-led projects are priorities; however, Councils may submit applications representing one or more communities in their district.  The Ministry will not fund direct Council costs such as salaries, administration, and venue fees.

Operational costs and business as usual: Grants for operational or business as usual costs are not supported.  These costs related to administration, staffing or routine programs and activities.  Projects are defined as one-off activities, or distinct stages of larger one-off activities.

Well-funded applicants:  Applications for funding from well-resourced organisations may still be considered where the application closely aligns with the Ministry’s strategic priorities.  However priority may be given to other organisations that are less well funded.  An applicant organisation is well funded where they have cash reserves of more than 12 months working capital and that working capital is more than the cost of the project.

Duplication of Services/Projects: Applications that appear to create a duplication in services or where the project benefits members of the same community, or part thereof that has received prior funding, will need to provide clear evidence of how the project differs from previously supported projects.  The applicants must be able to demonstrate new outcomes being achieved.

Media Projects (Film, TV, Web Services and Radio): Applications must be for a one off project that has a significant reach (500+).  Applications must include information about the proposed mediums and channels.  Previous applications have been granted at around $15,000.

Other Considerations

Applications for funding may also be prioritised where the project/event is;

  • expected to have a large attendance (over 1,000);
  • complex and is a collaboration between multiple partners, groups, or organisations;
  • inclusive and open to the public; and
  • expected to have several income streams and is not entirely reliant on ECDF funding (e.g. regulated raffles, entry fees, other grants, donations, sponsorship, or food sales).

Other Requirements

Legal entity status

Any organisation or group may apply for funding, however, grants over $10,000 are generally only approved for organisations that are legal entities.  For the purposes of the fund these include;

  • Incorporated societies;
  • Trusts registered under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957;
  • Companies with charitable purposes;
  • Local authorities;
  • School boards of trustees; and
  • Māori trust boards under the Māori Trust Boards Act 1955.

Registration with the Department of Internal Affairs, Charities Services does not automatically confer a legal status to a group.

Grants to organisations without legal entity status are limited to a total of not more than $10,000 in any one financial year.  The Fund’s financial year is from 1 July to 30 June.

Exception to Legal Entity Requirement

An organisation without legal entity status may be granted more than $10,000 if it is;

  • A branch of a national organisation that has legal entity status, and that is party to the grant agreement; or
  • collaborating with an organisation that has legal status and that undertakes responsibility for the financial expenditure and the benefits to be achieved by the project.

In both cases, the grant agreement must be countersigned by the partner or parent organisation.

Governance Requirements

Organisations or groups requesting funding must be able to demonstrate that they have appropriate governance and management structures, and appropriate processes and internal controls to support the size and complexity of the project they are seeking funding for.  At a minimum, the following must be in place:

  • there are at least two signatories for the organisation’s bank accounts;
  • financial records are kept (at a minimum a manual cashbook) and responsibility for maintaining financial records is allocated;
  • where applicable, up-to-date tax records are maintained; and
  • there is regular financial reporting to every meeting of the governing body;

Legal and financial compliance requirements

Applicant organisations will need to provide assurance that they comply with all relevant laws, regulations, and other legal obligations.  This includes;

  • confirmation that they comply with their constitution and any financial recording requirements set out in that document;
  • where they have been the recipient of previous ECDF grants, reports required in the funding agreement have been provided as required.

Applications to be Made Online

Applications for ECDF funds must be made online via the Department of Internal Affair’s grants and client management system and must;

  • Include an official bank document showing the organisation’s bank account details (a bank statement, printed deposit slip, or bank letter) confirming the bank account’s name and number;
  • Include a budget; and
  • Meet the financial information requirements (below).

Organisation Profiles

All organisations/groups must have or create an Organisation Profile on the grants and client management system and have a Profile Secretary who is responsible for maintaining this information.

Where the Profile Secretary for an organisation has changed, a document or meeting minute confirming who now has the right to act as a Profile Secretary must be provided.

Financial Information Requirements

If an organisation or group is;

  • a registered charity, it must publish its financial information in the format provided on the DIA Charities Services website. In these cases no additional information is required and the ECDF will assess the application based on this information; or
  • an incorporated society and its most recent annual financial statements are available from the Companies Office online, the Department will get the information needed online; or
  • not a registered charity or an incorporated society, its most recent annual financial statements must be uploaded to the organisation profile.

If the financial information for an organisation on the Charities Services website, the Companies Office website or on its organisational profile on the grants and client management system is more than 16 months old when the grant application is made, then a full set of financial statements for the most recent financial year must be uploaded to the organisation’s profile.  These financial statements must be approved by the organisation’s governance group.

If an organisation has existed for less than 16 months before applying for a grant, they may still apply for a grant provided they supply their most recent statement of financial performance.  This must be less than 3 months old.

Additional Reporting Requirements for Large Organisations

If the organisation’s annual operating costs were more than $500,000 for each of the previous two financial years, it must provide financial statements that have been externally reviewed for the most recent financial year.

If the organisation’s annual operating costs were more than $1 million for each of the previous two financial years, it must provide financial statements that have been externally audited for the most recent financial year.

Signatory Requirements

The person making the application on behalf of an organisation/group, and all signatories to the application must;

  • be over 18 years old;
  • be authorised to act and/or to sign for the organisation/group;
  • not be an undischarged bankrupt; or
  • have any conflict of interest in relation to the grant application.

If the request does not meet the signature requirements it may be deemed incomplete, and any grant approved/paid may be cancelled or required to be repaid.

Return of Funds

Any portion of the grant which has been paid to the applicant and has not been spent must be returned to the Ministry if the;

  • organisation is wound up or ceases operation; or
  • organisation does not require the full amount of the approved grant; or
  • funds will not be used for the approved purpose(s); or
  • time for expending the grant has expired.

Obligations on Winding Up

If an organisation receiving a grant from the ECDF winds up, any assets purchased with the grant must be redistributed to a community organisation with similar objectives.  The Ministry must be advised of the intended redistribution before the assets are disposed of and give their approval.

Any unspent portion of the grant must be returned to the Ministry.

Reporting Requirements

Grant recipients must report on grant expenditure as specified in the grant agreement including;

  • accounting for the use of the funds at the completion of the project, and
  • reporting on how the grant contributed to meeting the community outcome described in the application. This includes how the grant recipient knows what it has achieved, and any grant specific reporting requirements.

Reports will be reviewed to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions agreed and to ensure the results align with the results predicted in the application.

Retention and Provision of Information

Organisations which receive grants must agree to make any files or records that relate to the expenditure of the grant available for inspection by the Ministry if requested.  These records must be kept for seven years after the receipt of the grant. 

A condition of all grants is that any aspect of the organisations management of the grant may be subject to an audit by the Ministry or its agents.

What is Not Funded

The following types of applications are excluded from receiving funding;

  • grants to individuals;
  • grants for capital works;
  • requests for ongoing salaries, and/or ongoing administration costs;
  • already completed or partially completed projects;
  • debt repayment or debt servicing;
  • requests that are specifically intended to generate profit that is available for external distribution. A project may only generate a profit or surplus to invest in the expansion of the applicant’s services, or to contribute to the community and voluntary sector (Social Enterprises for example);  
  • requests and/or projects that seek to promote commercial interests, political objectives or religious ministry, [Religious ministry is activities which seek to increase the religious membership of an organisation. Events which are religious in nature but focus on celebration and community participation, such as Diwali celebrations, may be funded.] including political advocacy, projects which seek to change legislation, and commercial enterprises;
  • requests for fundraisers, including commercial or professional fundraisers whose purpose is to distribute money to others;
  • requests where there is evidence of a conflict of interest related to the project, which, in the opinion of the decision makers, has not been disclosed or managed satisfactorily; and
  • requests for alcohol and similar substances (for example kava).


Deputy Chief Executive – System Capability and Programmes

The Deputy Chief Executive (DCE) of the Ministry for Ethnic Communities (or delegated representative) makes final funding decisions regarding applications. To assist with decision making, the DCE convenes an ECDF Advisory Panel.

The responsibility of the DCE is to:

  • Appoint the members and the Chairperson of the ECDF Panel;
  • Establish, monitor, review, and alter the purpose and priorities of the ECDF;
  • Manage the guidance provided to panel members; and
  • Make decisions about grants, considering the recommendations made by the panel.

Role of the Panel

The ECDF Panel will make recommendations:

  • to disburse the ECDF across the financial year;
  • that consider ECDF policy, the Ministries’ strategic priorities and the purpose and outcomes sought through distribution of the fund; and
  • that are ethical and ensure conflicts of interest in relation to funding allocation decisions are managed appropriately.

The panel is supported by the Director- Strategy, Funding and Reporting who attends to facilitate discussions around strategic alignment, and the DCE – Strategic Engagement and Partnerships will attend all meetings in a monitoring capacity.  Both MEC officers will keep panel members updated on key MEC developments.

Panel Selection

The ECDF Panel will consist of up to five members, who are selected by the DCE – System Capability and Programmes. The ECDF Panel members are selected based on knowledge and understanding of:

  • community funding programmes;
  • the issues faced by ethnic communities;
  • current government priorities and initiatives in relation to refugee and migrant communities;
  • the purpose, priorities, and desired outcomes of the Fund;
  • refugee and migrant communities, (including government priorities in relation to these); and
  • their ability to contribute their knowledge and expertise to benefit those communities.

The DCE will consider geographical spread and ethnicity when selecting Panel members to provide a diversity of opinion in relation to recommendations.

Administrative Arrangements

Incomplete requests

Applications may be considered incomplete if;

  • all questions in the online form are complete; or
  • the organisation has not provided the required supporting information; or
  • the information provided has not been verified as required; or
  • the grant application is not authorised.

Incomplete applications may result in the application not being considered until the next application round.

Reasons for Declining Applications

An application may be declined where it;

  • does not provide sufficient information on which to award a grant (generally incomplete requests); or
  • does not align as closely with the Fund priorities and purpose as other requests; or
  • does not clearly demonstrate community benefit for an ethnic community to the same level as other requests; or
  • is not well supported or does not clearly demonstrate the organisation’s ability to deliver the project; or
  • is unclear that the organisation is sufficiently resourced to deliver the project; or
  • is the case that there are insufficient funds remaining in the fund.

Publication of decisions

The names of successful grant applicants and the grant amount will be published on the Ministry for Ethnic Communities website.  All applicants will be required to agree to publication.

Variations to Grant Term or Other Conditions

All grants must be spent within the term specified in the grant decision letter and/or grant agreement, unless written approval for an extension is obtained.  Likewise, use of a grant for purposes other than those specifically documented in the grant agreement must be approved prior to the grant being repurposed.  Requests for extensions or other changes to conditions are considered and approved by the DCE – System Capability and Programmes.

Failure to apply for a variation prior to the grant term expiring or using the funds for unapproved purposes may mean the grant must be repaid, partially or fully.

Failure to comply with grant terms and conditions

Failure to comply with the grant terms and conditions, including reporting obligations, may result in the following;

  • suspension of any further grant payments (e.g. milestone payments); and/or
  • a request for the return of funds; and/or
  • no further grants being approved.


Grants will be paid in full, at the earliest possible time following acceptance, unless grant progress payments have been agreed.

Method of payment

Payment of any grant or grant instalment will be made by direct credit to the bank account nominated in the Organisation Profile, within the Department of Internal Affair’s grants and client management system.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that this bank account is correct at the time of grant payment.

Goods and Services Tax

If an organisation is GST registered, all grants approved will be GST exclusive.  This means that if a grant is approved for $100,000 (GST exclusive), the grant payment made will be $115,000.  If the applicant organisation is not registered for GST, grant payments will be GST inclusive.

If an organisation changes their GST status during the grant period, it must advise the Ministry of the change in writing.  Confirmation of the GST number will need to be provided.

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