Is there really a way you can live on forever?

Is there really a way that you can live on forever?

Eleanor Cater
Community Foundations of New Zealand
16 October 2017

My father, Bob Cater QSM, died very recently. We buried him on a rare still and sparkly spring day in Wellington. I looked up at Wellington’s endless blue yonder and found myself wondering what is the point? Do we simply live and die and that’s it, we are gone?

We said our painful goodbyes to Dad and in the following days and weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can leave a lasting legacy.

Enter the ‘Community Foundation’ concept, where communities are busy building funds to support good causes, forever. An opportunity for generous people to put their life’s work to good use.

And, my favourite part, is that you don’t need to be wealthy to be generous! What we are seeing in small New Zealand communities is generosity is for everyone; enormous acts of personal generosity across New Zealand – from both wealthy and not so wealthy people.

Community Foundations were originally established in North America and have spread over time to most of the western world. It takes time – typically 10-20 years – for a community to build up their funds to a good level but when they do they can really begin to be changemakers and see results.

“From tiny seeds grow mighty trees.” It’s simple: grow funds from donations from generous people in the community and give back to the community the investment revenue from these funds. The original fund is not spent and is protected (i.e. managed so it grows) for inflation.

Ways of giving vary widely and there is enormous potential to create something lasting that appeals personally to the giver. Many people start funds while they are living, giving regularly to build up the fund, or establish their own fund in their Will so that their life’s work can carry on.

People with wealth often say that it is extremely difficult to give money away effectively. I know… it seems a difficult concept to many of us! Although most of us support good causes, do we really know how effectively that money is being used?

With the Community Foundation model you can specify exactly how your money will be used in the future, it does give peace of mind that you are, in fact, giving it away effectively.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend and her eyes lit up when I talked about giving in perpetuity to a cause that she was passionate about. The next time I saw her she told me she had decided what her fund would be: a gift in her Will to help vulnerable children. She was totally chuffed to be given the opportunity and the means to do so.

Should we talk about our personal generosity? I have a belief that we should, just as Bill Holland did here in his recent Radio New Zealand interview. I think it normalises the idea and it encourages others to consider what they would do, to dream big about ‘giving back.’ I don’t find it distasteful, I personally find it very empowering.

So, yes, I proudly say that I am setting up a fund through my local Community Foundation, Nikau Foundation in Wellington. It will grow through a gift in my Will – hopefully thinking very long-term here! – and it will benefit tertiary students who otherwise might not be able to afford a tertiary education. It’s a win two-fold, I feel good that my life’s work will live on and it has the potential to transform many lives into the future.

As it happens, my father Bob Cater was a very community-minded person and he also saw education as a privilege.  Perhaps this really is his influence living on? Maybe that is the real point after all.



Community Foundations of New Zealand are proud to be members of Include A Charity, promoting the transformational impact from gifts in Wills

Now is the time

Now is the time

By Liz Koh, 
Deputy Chair, Nikau Foundation 
4 October 2017

Baby boomers are not only getting older – they are getting wealthier. As they reach retirement age, they bring along with them a tsunami of wealth that needs to be invested, spent, and finally bequeathed to their heirs or charity.

Marketers talk of the ‘grey dollar’ – the money that will be spent by aging affluent baby boomers over the next 20 or 30 years.

All over the world, businesses are looking at ways to tap into this lucrative market. In Japan, there are shopping centres designed for the elderly, with medical clinics, pension-day discounts, and leisure activities for retirees. From cars to retirement villages to food and beverages, a raft of products designed with the elderly in mind is coming to market.

What will baby boomers do with their wealth? The decisions they make about how quickly to use up their retirement capital, and where to invest the capital they retain, could have a significant influence on financial markets.

Of course, not all baby boomers are individually wealthy. Their influence in the market comes simply from the fact that there are so many of them.

One interesting aspect of the baby boomer phenomenon is the influence of gender. Not only do women live longer than men but overseas research shows that women are the key decision-makers in around 85 per cent of all consumer purchases. They also wield the greatest influence when it comes to charitable giving.

As this population bubble reaches the age when they can afford to be generous and when they will have to make decisions about what happens to their estates, women will play a key role.

Numerous studies in the UK and the US show that women are more likely to give – and give more – than men. One internationally recognised centre of excellence for this research is the Women’s Philanthropy Institute which is part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Their research has shown that baby boomer and older women gave 89 per cent more to charity than men of the same age and that women in the top 25 per cent income bracket gave 156 per cent more than men in the same bracket.

Charities can expect a huge influx of money as baby boomers unload their wealth either during retirement or on death. The smart ones will be actively cultivating relationships with baby boomers to tap into their generosity, and women, particularly women in high income brackets, should be right in their sights.

To that end, the Auckland Foundation, a member of Community Foundations of New Zealand, is launching an Auckland Women’s Fund, which aims to support women’s giving and improve the lives of girls and women through its granting.

No doubt others will follow. After all, baby boomers have only three choices with their wealth – they can spend it themselves, leave it to their family, or give it to charity or community. They certainly can’t take it with them.


* Liz Koh is Deputy Chair of Nikau Foundation, an authorised financial adviser and author of Your Money Personality; Unlock the Secret to a Rich and Happy Life, Awa Press.