So, what is a charity? (Greenpeace)

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You may have heard that Greenpeace recently lost a court appeal against being denied “charitable” status.

We thought youd like to know a bit more about what this means, and why we have decided to appeal the decision.

Firstly, this doesnt affect our donee status so our donors can continue to claim 1/3rd of their total donations to Greenpeace back from the IRD.

We are pursuing this case because we think, it raises important issues for public debate about what a charity is in the 21st century.

The High Court decision did recognise that Greenpeaces objectives the protection of the environment – are charitable and of benefit to the community, but took issue with the way we go about our work. The Commission determined that the amount of advocacy Greenpeace was involved in was too high to be a charity.

However, the definition of a charity has evolved over the years and today political debate is generally considered a necessary part of a healthy democracy.

The Australian High Court recently awarded the development organisation Aid/Watch charitable status because it recognised this very aspect as being a relevant part of the work of many charities in todays society.

I believe, that in a world beset with so many challenges and problems, being an advocate for change is one of the most important public services you can provide.

In reality, having government-sanctioned charitable status would make little difference to Greenpeace financially, and makes no difference to our supporters ability to claim donation rebates.

Were appealing the court decision because we think theres an important principle at stake.

Its increasingly evident that we live in an age where dissent is becoming less and less tolerated by governments everywhere.

We should not forget that dissent has been the driving force behind every progressive social change weve known from women gaining the right to vote, through to achieving nuclear-free status.

We must continue to defend the legitimacy of advocacy and peaceful protest. As a Greenpeace supporter, you know how important these things are to a democratic society, and I thank you for your support as we continue to campaign for sustainability and peace.

Yours sincerely,

Bunny McDiarmid
GREENPEACE
Executive Director

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