Making Your Application Q: Our volunteer project has still not had official approval from DOC and the closing date is approaching. Can we still apply to the fund? A: Sure. An application can be lodged, but would be put on hold by the Grants Manager pending the receipt of all the required approvals. In general it is best to wait until all documentation with DOC is complete.
Q: Do I need a building consent for doing work on huts? A: Not for the restoration of huts and replacing like-for-like materials. In some cases like replacing the piles, DOC may require photographic records that the work has been done to the appropriate fixing level. Modern piling and fixing practice has changed since many older huts were built. It is advisable to confirm the reporting expectations for this type of work with the DOC operations manager in the ‘Scope of Works’. Extensions to the footprint of the hut, including verandahs, are likely to require a building consent and in most circumstances unlikely to be funded by the Trust.
Q: We are planning on replacing the open fire in a hut with a log burner. Do we need a permit from the council to do this? Yes, replacing a fireplace with a log burner needs careful consideration. Discuss any proposal to replace a fireplace with the local Operations Manager/Senior Ranger early on in the planning phase. DOC will contact the local council and building inspector to confirm the building consent requirements or whether an exemption can be applied for. If the work is to proceed, include this in the “Scope of Works” and confirm who will cover the costs of building consents and inspection if required.
Q: What happens if we underspend the original budget? Can we transfer funds to another project? Some projects run over budget, others under. You cannot claim more than the project actually costs or transfer the funding to another project. A new project needs to start with a fresh Grant Application.
Getting Paid Q: Do we need proof of payment for all invoices on a claim sheet? A: If the invoice is over $50, you need to supply us with a copy of the receipt in addition to the tax invoice.
Q: We’ve underestimated the cost of our project and we are going to exceed our grant amount. What are our options? Small overruns can be approved by the Grants Manager. Please email us if it looks like your project is tracking over budget. Larger overruns (> $2,000) need Board approval and require an additional Grant Application. It is preferable to go through this process as early as possible to guarantee that the Trust is able to cover the additional costs to complete the project.
Q: What is the process for suppliers to be paid direct from the fund? A: Firstly, email the BCT Grants Manager to request a direct payment. Advise the supplier name and invoice value. Cc the supplier. The Grants Manager will authorise payment upon receiving the tax invoice. To minimise administration overhead, it is preferable for the Trust to restrict this to more substantial payments where cash flow can be difficult for an club or individual to bear, eg. helicopter transport and substantial purchases of building materials. Planning ahead and collating materials required into a single large order will generally offer up a significant trade discount and cost savings to yourself and the Trust.
Q: Can our organisation get an advance on our grant to get started on the project? In general, “No”. The Trust may make exceptions in extenuating circumstances where a GST Registered Club or Group can issue a tax invoice for the agreed work to be done.
Providing Final Reports Q: How long after the project completion do I have to file a final report? A: The BCT is required to report expenditure of public money to the Government. We require a report on all funded projects to be submitted within a month of completion. This is in turn collated with the Trust’s other projects, summarised and reported back to DOC - thus assuring us all continued funding in future years.
Q: How much detail do we need to provide in the project report? A: A one page summary is perfect. The number of volunteers involved, hours /worked’ and km’s of any track work/construction is core information that we report back to DOC. Photos are great - before, during and after. We post them on our website and include in reports to DOC and occasional press releases.
Health and Safety Q: We’ve heard concerns about Robinson helicopters. Can we use these for volunteer projects? A: Along with some other government departments, DOC is currently not using Robinson helicopters for transport for its staff or volunteers while there are the current concerns regarding accident rates of these machines. This prohibition does not extend to volunteer groups working independently on volunteer hut and track projects. The decision on transporting materials and people into the hills for a project is entirely in the hands of the applicant. However the BCT asks that applicants have a well thought out decision-making process to select the right machine for the job and conditions. In general, operators with mixed fleets are often preferable because they have more options for a wider range of flying conditions.
Q: Are volunteer groups covered by the Health & Safety at Work Act? A: To be covered by the Act, a volunteer group needs to meet the criteria of being a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) under the Act. A volunteer group working together for a community purpose who do not employ any person under contract or service is defined as a ‘volunteer association’ and exempt under the Act. Even though volunteer groups are not covered by the Act, there is still an expectation that project groups will carry out the project with normal consideration of safe work practices. DOC also has responsibilities as the land and asset manager to warn volunteer groups of any potential safety issues. To this end, every project group is expected to read and sign DOC’s Health & Safety plan for volunteers.
Click here for further information about volunteers from Worksafe NZ.