Just Zilch's application to become a charity will not be fast-tracked despite an "overwhelming" response to news they are on desperate street.
The free food store's management has been fighting to make it a charitable trust for the past 18 months, but have been hamstrung because they cannot prove they are only helping people in poverty.
Without access to the funding options available to registered charities, Just Zilch management has warned it might have to close its doors in three months.
Charities Services general manager Brendon Ward said they had been assisting Just Zilch but they had not yet been able to accept the applications because of the vagaries of the documents they had received.
"We try to provide a service that helps people through their applications but we can only do so much; we can't write the application for them."
Wording was important and they could not just accept an organisation was a charity because the vibe of it was good, he said.
"The integrity of the register is really important.
"We want the public to have trust and faith in the organisations we consider charities and so it's not uncommon for us to go back to people applying once or twice.
"We do need to take our time to ensure we make the right decision.
"That decision has to be based on the organisation's application and on the 400 years of case law that has gone before it."
Mr Ward said Just Zilch's 18 month battle was "not an ordinary case" as it had been hampered by the timing of Charities Services - formerly the Charities Commission - merger with the Department of Internal Affairs.
Mr Ward said the commission was not completely at fault for the delays as Just Zilch had also contacted them "at least twice" to extend the deadline for getting their application in.
"Obviously when it gets raised like this we need to look into our efforts too . . .
"If there are organisations out there that deserve to be a charity and want to be a charity, they will be made a charity."
Just Zilch founder Rebecca Culver said an 18 month wait because of 400 years of case law was crazy.
"I feel like we are trying our darndest to jump through their hoops.
"The law needs updating. We are a worthwhile organisation.
"It's crazy that there are legitimate organisations like us are struggling to become charities."
The community had rallied behind Just Zilch since they had been made aware they had about three months of funding left, Miss Culver said.
"It's phenomenal the amount of people who are supporting us. It's been overwhelming.
"Now it's about businesses and people putting their money where their mouth is and helping us out in whatever way they can."
- Manawatu Standard
Does more need to be done to protect NZ passports?