The Trust Deed empowered the MPCT trustees to use its funds "for or towards such charitable purposes in New Zealand as the Trustees shall from time to time specify." This mandate has been interpreted quite broadly over the years to provide donations to many charities, representing a wide range of social services and other activities within the community. To qualify for consideration, the charities have needed to be officially registered, originally under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957 and more recently by the Charities Commission.
A meeting of the Trust Board is held in July each year and a new list of donations is confirmed at these times. Applications for possible inclusion in the lists may be submitted up until 1 June for consideration in that financial year. Applications received after that date are held over for consideration in the following year unless special circumstances apply.