Responses to your questions

About CAP and its services

Who is CAP?

CAP is Christians Against Poverty. Poverty is a force that robs people — leaving people depleted, hungry, and alone. CAP partners with around 200 churches across Aotearoa, bringing the love of God in practical ways to people in financial hardship.

As a Not-for-Profit organisation, CAP’s free services are made possible by regular donations from New Zealanders and local churches who want to see people go from surviving to thriving.

What does CAP do?

CAP offers two free services – CAP Debt Help (debt counselling for people in unmanageable debt) and CAP Money (money management courses).

CAP Debt Help provides holistic help for people facing money problems caused by unmanageable debt. As the cost-of-living rises, CAP is operating 50+ Debt Help centres— reaching into communities from Kaitaia to Dunedin. Over 2,200 New Zealanders have gone from financial hardship to living debt free!

CAP Money courses
are also offered free across Aotearoa. These courses have empowered over 16,500 people to spend, save and budget well.

How does CAP Debt Help worK?

When a person in unmanageable debt makes their first brave call to Christians Against Poverty, a team of specialists is standing by, ready to help. Prayer or karakia is always offered on this first phone call. A Debt Coach and support worker, from the Debt Help Centre at the local church, then arranges to visit the client in their home, or at another location where they’re most comfortable to begin their journey. CAP Debt Coaches get to know individuals and whānau, taking care of immediate practical needs, such as filling empty cupboards with food.

The Debt Coach helps the client to gather their debts and bills, and sends them to CAP Head Office. Here, the team advocates on behalf of around 500 CAP client families every day.

CAP negotiates with creditors to get interest and payments lowered, helping clients to go debt free faster; and builds effective budgets that prioritise food and essentials. Sometimes CAP identifies that loans have been given out irresponsibly to clients, so CAP lobbies for fairer outcomes in those situations.

Clients begin paying back their own debt at a rate they can afford — and importantly, clients now have the ability to put food on the table for their whānau. CAP supports clients for the entire time it takes for them to repay their debt – usually two to four years. In this time clients learn crucial financial skills such as budgeting and saving, setting up their entire whānau for better financial management!

The team at the local Debt Help Centre continues to provide holistic care and wraparound support – inviting people to church and church events, fixing cars, babysitting kids, etc. Clients know they’re no longer alone in their journey.

As CAP shares and provides support, people encounter God’s love in practical ways. Over time, clients also grow in money wisdom, finding new abilities to set goals, take control and step into lives of renewed hope and freedom!

CAP’s client survey (2021) shows that 99% of clients say that CAP is “Life-transforming or “A great help.”

What is CAP Money?

CAP Money is a free, three-part course designed to help people spend, budget and save wisely. CAP Money is relevant to everyone, whether you’re entering a new life stage, facing reduced income or job loss, or simply wanting to do the best for your whānau. Taking CAP Money allows you to start managing your money — rather than your money managing you!

Over 16,500 people who have taken the CAP Money course have found that they are now able to pursue goals that are important to them and their whānau. Examples include saving for a house deposit, sleeping peacefully without money stress, or pursuing activities they love.

CAP Money courses are run in partnership with local churches. Depending on location, there are in-person and online course options running at various times. Find a course near you.

Where are you based? Are people able to get CAP’s help near me?

CAP partners with around 200 churches across Aotearoa to deliver free CAP Debt Help, as well as CAP Money courses.

There are Debt Help centres across the motu, including in: Dunedin, Timaru, Ashburton, Christchurch, Blenheim, Nelson, Wellington, Paraparaumu, Porirua, Masterton, Levin, Palmerston North, Whanganui, Hastings, New Plymouth, Eltham, Whakatāne, Rotorua, Tauranga, Te Awamutu, Hamilton, Huntly, Auckland, Whangarei, Kaitaia.

CAP Money courses are often run online so in these cases they can be accessed anywhere in NZ/your own home — as long as you have internet.

There are CAP Money in-person and online course options running at various times throughout the year. Find out if there’s a course you can attend here.

CAP’s Support Office is in Penrose, Auckland.

CAP’s impact and reach

How effective is CAP Debt Help?

Since Christians Against Poverty began in New Zealand in 2008, more than 2,200 people have gone debt free! And in this time, more than $100 million in unmanageable debt and bills have been paid or written off. Not a single dollar of unmanageable debt has been paid by CAP — it’s the clients themselves who do the hard work of making repayments on their own debt.

This creates a habit of keeping to a budget and saving – meaning sustainable change! As clients learn money wisdom, they are empowered to pass it onto the next generation.

  • Before CAP, three out of four clients couldn’t pay for daily living expenses without borrowing money.
  • After CAP, more than nine out of ten stay clear of unmanageable debt once going debt free.

In 2020, Impact Lab independently assessed CAP’s effectiveness. Impact Lab found that every $1 invested in CAP Debt Help multiplies into $4.90 worth of social benefit to Aotearoa. The report shows evidence that CAP Debt Help improves physical health and food choices; reduces need for emergency benefits; improves mental health; increases financial resilience and savings and improves relationships.

CAP Debt Help also enhances taha wairua, spiritual health. How beautiful that over 1,400 precious people, like Gemma, have made a commitment to Christ — their stories forever changed as they grow in relationship with Jesus!

Do you have to be a Christian to get CAP's help?

No. Whoever you are, whatever you believe – or don’t believe – CAP welcomes you! CAP is motivated by Jesus’ example — caring for people’s whole selves. CAP’s free help focuses on loving neighbours and helping people in need in practical waysrelationally, as well as spiritually.

Why are people in debt in the first place?

At first glance, some clients’ financial choices (before coming to CAP) may seem out of step with their means. However, behind the headline loan values, there is often a story of survival.

Before coming to CAP, six out of ten CAP clients were regularly skipping meals because of debt*. Seven out of ten stayed away from others because of debt.

The roads leading to these situations vary, but in many cases, clients readily acknowledge a lack of knowledge/skills in handling money. Sometimes the costs of unforeseeable or unfortunate events such as job loss, sickness, and death are simply not able to be absorbed. There is often very little ‘buffer’ between a person’s income and their everyday expenses. Clients commonly carry positive intentions: their choices are often governed by what they think is best for their whānau at the time, even if that means taking on more debt.

When next week’s essential living costs are dependent on another loan, it produces an atmosphere of anxiety, stress, and sleepless nights. As debt spirals, low-cost credit becomes increasingly out of reach. It can lead people into situations where they are operating in survival mode for extended periods of time.

Without a rudder of financial capability, the only ‘way out’ can seem like a dubious lender who charges exorbitant fees, and high interest rates. CAP commonly finds that lenders do not always fulfil their responsibilities to conduct appropriate affordability assessments before approving the loan.

The bottom line for many New Zealanders experiencing debt and poverty is that it’s hard to make good choices when there are only bad options.

*CAP client survey 2021

Further context: 

41% of all New Zealanders have less than $1000 available to them in their savings. – ASB August 2022

15% of New Zealanders have NO savingsconsumer.org.nz, October 2021

Is there a wait list for people to get Debt Help?

CAP Debt Help continues to be over-subscribed in certain areas, such as South Auckland. Where there is a waitlist of three months or more, CAP sadly needs to turn some families away. CAP is continually working to increase capacity and partnerships in over-subscribed areas, as well as areas where there are no Debt Help centres.

If your church would like to partner with CAP to provide more support for clients, you can explore here.

How does CAP equip Debt Help clients to be wiser with their money?

For most Debt Help clients, their journey to go debt free takes two to four years. During this time, clients learn the importance of setting goals and sticking to a budget! All clients have savings built into their budgets – many for the first time in their lives. The CAP Team assists them to plan for the use of those savings, as well as supporting them and making budget adjustments when circumstances require

How long does it take to release someone from poverty caused by unmanageable debt?

The average amount of time for a CAP client to become completely debt free is two to four years.

The CAP team, together with the local church, walk alongside people throughout their entire journey out of debt, supporting them through life’s changes.

A feeling of release begins when people make that first call to Christians Against Poverty, where there is a team of specialists ready to help. Prayer is offered on this first phone call.

People, like Emma, say from the moment they first call CAP that they don’t feel alone anymore. Mel says “it feels like you are being held up. That no one’s going to let you fall.”

With rising living costs, plus COVID-19, what’s the situation like for people in need?

When we talk to CAP clients, this is what we’re hearing:

  • Rising living costs are causing a lot of harm and further financial hardship for low-income and struggling households.
  • It takes a lot of resourcefulness to manage a family budget with very little money.
  • CAP clients are describing the stress of driving around with a fuel tank on almost empty.
  • With the cost of fruit and vegetables increasing by 17% in the past year, many are unable to provide their family with nutritious food. For some, this can lead to health complications.
  • People in financial hardship spend proportionately more on essential living costs (such as transport, food, and housing) than do the average household.
  • Just one thing going wrong —for instance  needing car repairs or a health issue — can lead some people to experience more severe hardship, or be drawn into taking on more debt.
  • The emotional toll can be heavy as parents and caregivers constantly juggle ever-shrinking resources to meet the needs of their families.
  • Before the cost-of-living crisis, ⅔ people who call CAP were already skipping meals, ⅗ were disconnecting themselves from family and social events and ⅖ said that they felt they couldn’t buy adequate clothes or shoes for their children.

Thankfully, CAP clients are receiving the extra support from the CAP Team they need in this time of increased living costs. In fact, 95% of current clients responded ‘yes’ or ‘somewhat’ when asked if working with CAP made it any easier to cope with the rising cost of essentials.

Partnering churches and Jesus’ Good News

Why does CAP partner with the church?

CAP partners with local churches to provide a community that can wrap around the clients, while providing on-the-ground practical support. Debt Help Centre teams provide compassionate support to Debt Help clients – inviting them to church and church events, fixing cars, babysitting kids, etc.

What is CAP's position on sharing the gospel?

Motivated by what we believe is Jesus’ example of loving and serving people, CAP is a Christ-centred organisation. Prayer and sharing the love of God with people is foundational to CAP’s mahi.

The CAP team offers prayer and karakia over the phone from the very first call to CAP. Nine out of ten say they appreciate prayer over the phone [1]. Right up there in importance for clients, alongside help with money problems, is the relational care CAP provides —someone sitting with them, listening and offering support [2]

As clients encounter moments of peace in their lives that go beyond understanding, they’re invited to explore Jesus’ promise “Come to me, all of you who are tired, from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). This invitation to a relationship with Jesus is presented as Te Rongopai, the Good News.

CAP Debt Coaches take time to listen to clients’ stories — hearing about clients’ strengths, challenges and goals. This enables coaches to provide responsive support along their journeys out of debt.

Each Debt Help Centre is powered by a local church, whose doors are open for people to become part of a community and explore a full life found in Jesus – this of course always remains an invitation, not an expectation.

CAP takes a conversational approach to sharing the gospel. People may not be open to spiritual conversations and CAP always respects this. CAP’s help remains free to all people, whoever you are, whatever you believe – or don’t believe – CAP welcomes you!

As clients and Debt Coaches kōrero about the amazing love that Jesus holds for each person, many people decide to take this further. It’s beautiful that over 1,400 precious people, like Sia, have made a commitment to Christ — their stories forever changed as they grow in relationship with Jesus.

1 – 88% in the client survey 2020
2 – 71% in client survey 2021

Supporting the mahi of CAP

Where do my donations go?

CAP Debt Help

It costs $46 a month to provide each person in a household with the practical help and holistic support they need to be released from poverty caused by unmanageable debt. Because each person receives the benefit of life-transforming help and hope both for now and for their futures –your donations have long-lasting impact. Entire households benefit, and often extended whānau benefit, as they see the difference in family members’ lives.

Direct costs include:

  • Specialist Advice Team 
  • Clients’ Rights Advocacy
  • Creditor Liaison Team
  • Budget Solutions Adviser Team
  • Client Support Team

In 2020, Impact Lab conducted an independent assessment of CAP’s effectiveness. Impact Lab found that for every $1 invested in CAP Debt Help, the programme delivers $4.90 of social benefit back into communities across Aotearoa. The report also found that CAP Debt Help:

  • Reduces need for emergency benefits
  • Improves physical health and food choices
  • Improves mental health
  • Increases financial resilience and savings
  • Improves relationships
Does CAP pay off people's debt?

CAP never pays a dollar of Debt Help clients’ debt. CAP clients repay their debt using their own income. They do the hard work of keeping to their budgets and making repayments on their debt! Since CAP began in New Zealand in 2008, more than $100 million in unmanageable debt and bills have been paid or written off.

To enable clients to go debt free faster, the team at CAP’s Support Office negotiates with clients’ creditors to get unfair interest and fees wiped. The team customises budgets to ensure essential living costs are met. This allows clients to sustainably live within their means, while paying off their debt — providing a huge sense of achievement.

This journey empowers each household to gain financial literacy skills. Importantly, clients have the backing of the CAP team every step of their journey, helping them to navigate life’s ups and downs.

Does CAP pay off people's debt?

CAP never pays a dollar of Debt Help clients’ debt. CAP clients repay their debt using their own income. They do the hard work of keeping to their budgets and making repayments on their debt! Since CAP began in New Zealand in 2008, more than $100 million in unmanageable debt and bills have been paid or written off.

To enable clients to go debt free faster, the team at CAP Support Office negotiates with clients’ creditors to get unfair interest and fees wiped. The team customises budgets to ensure essential living costs are met. This allows clients to sustainably live within their means, while paying off their debt — providing a huge sense of achievement.

This journey empowers each household to gain financial literacy skills. Importantly, clients have the backing of the CAP team every step of their journey, helping them to navigate life’s ups and downs.

How do I donate to CAP?

The simplest way to donate is to head to capnz.org/donate, where you can set up a regular or a one-off gift. If you’d prefer to set up a gift over the phone or by bank transfer you can do this too – see ‘other giving options’.

Giving weekly or monthly is the most effective way to bring life-transforming help to people – it lowers costs, which means your gift goes straight to work, helping families and individuals in need. The stability of your ongoing donation means CAP can deliver long-term solutions to support and advocate for people up and down Aotearoa. When you give monthly (or weekly) you join a group of supporters called CAP Life Changers – because you’re making a change to someone’s life each and every month!

How can I update my contact details/information?

If you’d like to talk to CAP about updating your contact information, your payment details or anything else, please call the team on 09 270 0334 or email supporters@capnz.org

How can I change/update my regular gift?

If you are giving via automatic payment through your bank, you can easily change this yourself using your online banking (please let the Supporter Engagement Team know so we can update this on our side). If you’re giving via credit or debit card, please give the Supporter Engagement team a call on 09 270 0334 and they can make the change for you.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes. All donations over $5 are tax-rebateable. Donation tax receipts are posted or emailed mid-April, after the close of our financial year.

When will I get my donation receipt?

CAP automatically calculates your yearly donation amount at the 31st of March each year, and emails or posts your donation receipt. You should receive it towards the end of April each year.

What are some other ways to help apart from giving money?

You’re invited to pray for CAP clients. Could you pray that they would find stability amidst the ups and downs of life, and that they experience the love of God? You can also get involved with a CAP ministry at a local church, or even start working at CAP.

Does CAP receive any funding from the NZ Government?

Covid Response Funding

As part of their 2020 Covid Response and Recovery fund, the government decided to fund social service organisations on the front lines to help meet the additional demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and CAP has received this funding.

The funding represents a small percentage of the total cost of providing free help and support to people in need, and is specifically allocated to meeting the increased demand for CAP Debt Help.

Ministry of Social Development (MSD) Funding

MSD have come to recognise the effectiveness of CAP’s Debt Help service. Seven out of ten of CAP’s Debt Help clients receive some form of Ministry of Social Development (MSD Work and Income) benefit. CAP has received MSD funding for a one-off project, to assist the MSD in examining whether our mutual clients receive the correct benefit income and/or correct entitlements. The findings of this project were beneficial for people receiving benefits, especially those in financial hardship.

All agencies with whom CAP interact know that we are a Christian organisation, with core values of serving the poor, sharing the gospel, with the church, across the nation. Receiving government funding in no way impedes CAP’s approach to sharing God’s love, nor does it change CAP’s approach to supporting families – such as praying for people and connecting them with their local church.


Which political parties does CAP support? Which are most aligned with your values?

CAP aims to work constructively with those in leadership to address unmanageable debt and poverty in our communities, no matter which political party they belong to. 

Why is CAP engaging with government?

CAP is engaging with organisations across Aotearoa to create positive change. This includes informing relevant government agencies about Debt Help clients’ experience of financial hardship, while advocating for change on their behalf. CAP does this from a heart and intent to find compassionate solutions to stem the causes of poverty.

While CAP recognises the place of government in bringing about ‘upstream’ regulatory change, our core focus remains working with local communities – alongside the local church – to set people free, materially, spiritually and relationally.

How do you protect clients’ privacy?

CAP’s frontline workers and office staff have undertaken privacy training, including the Privacy Commission’s ABC training, which teaches what can and cannot be shared about clients with others, as well as giving guidance on how to respond if privacy issues arise.

CAP shares stories of clients’ debt-free journeys in newsletters and emails, as well as on CAP’s website and social media, but holds the dignity and mana of our clients in utmost regard. Clients who share their story can choose to remain anonymous (by using a pseudonym and stock photos) and can also specify what platforms they’re comfortable for their story to be shared on.

More questions?

Search here and we might have the answer for you – or message our team at supporters@capnz.org