Having the philanthropic conversation

Having the philanthropic conversation – is it good for business?

Eleanor Cater
August 30th 2019

While many people don’t think of themselves as philanthropists – it’s a word that many align with the rich and famous – we find that most people do want to make a difference in the world.

And in our line of work we find that philanthropy, or good old-fashioned Kiwi generosity, gives people great fulfillment in their estate planning.

Conversations that go much further than discussing technical aspects of law and strike right at the heart of a client’s core – their philanthropic aspirations – can lead to very fulfilled and loyal clients.

Bill Holland, long-time Law Partner with Holland Beckett Law says, “My experience has been that clients appreciate being advised of their options and a philanthropic conversation with the right clients leads to an improved relationship – and can easily lead to business growth”.

Steven Colligan, registered psychotherapist and business consultant agrees. He has spent many years in his professional life considering human behavior and how we connect. He says that while clients want their professional advisors to ‘know their craft’ it’s the soft skills, like those that you would employ in a conversation around a client’s giving aspirations, that are important and that will really differentiate your business.

Colligan says, “We are all people first, and we prefer meaningful conversations that go beyond the technical. These ‘soft skills’ are quite different from the technical skills which are learned through formal education. If through your work you can listen, you can connect, you can provide a feeling of the client feeling valued and understood, it creates loyalty.  And loyalty is certainly good for business”.

Colligan uses the words “listen” and “trust” a lot when referring to business relationships. He says that professional advisors would do well to start early by connecting with their clients, and feeling confident in doing so.

Professional advisors we work with across New Zealand often say the following about having the philanthropic conversation:

  • It offers a significant point of difference in their advisory role
  • It offers a more holistic financial planning approach
  • It gives professional advisors the opportunity to connect with a client’s core aspirations and values, something which they say really strengthens the relationship.
  • It creates loyalty

The research

A Harvard Business Review study from 2015 concluded that emotionally connected clients are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied clients, as they buy more, are less price sensitive and are more likely to recommend you.

Research also indicates that clients actually want to have the philanthropic conversation early on with their professional advisors.  American research (2013 US Trust and Philanthropic Initiative) found that high net worth individuals prefer to have the philanthropic conversation in the early stages of the advisor relationship and that they actually prefer to discuss their values and passions regarding giving, rather than the technical aspects and tax advantages.

And studies from the UK (2016 Legacy Giving and Behavioural Insights Report) found that a
professional advisor’s role is key: twice as many people are likely to leave a bequest or philanthropic gift in their Will if it is suggested to them as an option and almost three times as many people will leave a bequest if their professional advisor suggests that it’s something other people do, so normalizes the conversation.

And, with the biggest intergenerational wealth transfer the world has ever seen from the baby boomer generation to the next starting to take place, now is the time for professional advisors to be brushing up on those ‘soft skills’ and starting these meaningful conversations with their clients about their philanthropic dreams and aspirations.

It’ll be good for business after all.


September is Wills month and Community Foundations all around NZ provide free resources and philanthropic expertise to lawyers and professional advisors around having that crucial philanthropic conversation. See more at the link. 

This article appears in the September edition of Lawtalk, The NZ Law Society’s national magazine

Simple solution as charitable Trusts struggle

Simple Solution as Charitable Trusts Struggle

Liz Koh
Deputy Chair, Nikau Foundation
27 July 2019

New Zealand ranks highly against other countries when it comes to charitable giving. We have been philanthropic for a very long time and our country is well endowed – in fact, some would say over-endowed – with Charitable Trusts. Many of these Trusts are decades old and are still undertaking the excellent work for which they were set up. However, some are struggling.

There are many reasons why a Charitable Trust may find itself languishing after a time. Some of these include:

  • It’s difficult to identify beneficiaries or spend the income of the Trust
  • It’s becoming difficult to attract Trustees
  • The legal/compliance/reporting requirements are becoming too cumbersome
  • The work of administering the Trust is becoming too onerous or disproportionate to the level of funding
  • The Trustees wish that they knew more about local issues and opportunities, where the greatest needs are and what other funders are up to

Forward-thinking Trusts are looking for solutions to get around their cumbersome and expensive structures and make themselves more relevant to the needs of present day and future communities.

As an example, Trust Porirua recently transferred their $5.5m of assets to Nikau Foundation, Wellington’s Community Foundation, to safeguard and grow. This Trust had been struggling heavily with administrative costs, set up under the old Licensing Trust model long after it still had a realistic alcohol licensing role in the local community. Towards the end of its life the Trust was spending three times as much on its structure and administration – including the public elections of Trustees – than it was able to return to the community.

In late 2018, Trust Porirua folded its remaining assets into a district fund with Nikau Foundation. If current rates of return continue, the new Nikau Porirua District Fund should be able to return at least two to three times as much to its community.

Former Chair of Trust Porirua, Tim Sheppard, said at the time of the transfer, “Trust Porirua and its assets needed to get to a place where they could work effectively for Porirua, with maximum returns to the community. This decision will help secure the future of funding for the Porirua region in a sustainable way, at least doubling the amount returned to the community and ensuring good investment and grant making practices for the long term”.

A number of Hearing Associations from around New Zealand are also in discussions with their local Community Foundation to take over the management of their assets, enabling their charitable purpose to continue.

The Gisborne Hearing Association had found that their active membership and the use of their premises had been steadily declining due to advancements in hearing technology. Coupled with some other Board challenges they could see they would have to close, which was a difficult reality since there was still a need to financially support some members of the hearing-impaired community.

A solution was found through The Sunrise Foundation which took over the management of their assets and grant-making to establish ‘The Sunrise Hearing Assistance Fund’. The Association’s capital fund is secured, is still receiving donations and generating interest income to support hearing-impaired members of their local community.

The scale of dormant or struggling Charitable Trusts in New Zealand is only beginning to emerge. Solutions need to be found to prevent the further erosion of charitable gifts that were made by previous generations of philanthropists and to give confidence to today’s donors that the gifts they make will be managed cost-effectively for their intended charitable purpose. The Community Foundation model, which provides a governance and management umbrella for charitable funds, is a simple solution which has the potential to do just that.

This article orginally appeared in national press at the link.

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.

Contact your local Community Foundation today to discuss how your Trust funds can work more effectively for their charitable purpose


Ensure your Trust’s purpose continues on forever

Ensure your Trust’s purpose continues on forever

 Kelvyn Eglinton
Momentum Waikato Community Foundation
8 July 2019

Many in the business community put their time, energy and expertise into being trustees of not-for-profit organisations, incorporated societies or charitable trusts that distribute or use their funds to meet community needs. If this is you, you’ll know first-hand that the management of such groups’ capital or trust funds is not getting any easier.

Which is why many local Community Foundations are now in discussion with local Boards who are considering transferring their funds or assets to the Community Foundation’s long-term management and stewardship.

Board trustees’ most common challenges are:

  • the growing complexity of their role, particularly around compliance requirements;
  • their increasing obligations and potential liabilities;
  • the trust’s original mission has been realised and their funds need to be appropriately reinvested and/or redirected to another community benefit;
  • the recruitment of new trustees who are willing and able to meet the entity’s obligations is increasingly difficult;
  • their fund is relatively small scale and they are spending more time on compliance and annual reporting than on distribution;
  • the money is sitting in a bank account earning minimal interest and incurring ongoing fees.

A Community Foundation’s primary purpose is to focus and facilitate local philanthropy to build an endowment fund, so our regional community has its own financial resource to deliver the projects and programmes it needs. We’re here to make a better community for everyone, forever.

Placing your Trust’s funds under your local Community Foundation’s guardianship means you can take advantage of already existing professional services and get the security and greater investment returns that come from the scale of an already existing operation.

When you transfer the assets of your trust or society you can establish a dedicated ‘Named Fund’ with your preferred title, and then distribute grants in the group’s name every year, forever, to the beneficiaries and purposes you specify.

We work with you to develop a plan, a deed of gift and a charter that provide whatever level of control and involvement you desire.

A ‘Named Fund’ with your local Community Foundation retains your group’s identity and purpose, but gains our economies of scale, expert legal and financial management, experienced grant-making knowledge and dedicated investment support. As the original trustees, you can continue to make the decisions around distributing the fund’s income, but will be freed from the complexity, time, obligations and costs associated with operating your own legal entity.

As an example, the Gisborne Hearing Association has opened up their own ‘Named Fund’ with their local Community Foundation, The Sunrise Foundation.

For many years the Association maintained a space where the hearing impaired could practise lip reading, be shown how to get the full benefit from their hearing aids, join in recreational activities and gain companionship to break down their social isolation.

In recent times their active membership and the use of their premises had been steadily declining due to advancements in hearing technology. Coupled with the challenges described above, they could see they would have to close, although there was still a need to financially support some members of the deaf community.

Sunrise Foundation allowed them to achieve this goal by taking over the management of their capital and grant-making to establish ‘The Sunrise Hearing Assistance Fund’. The association’s capital fund is secured and still receiving donations and generating interest income to support hearing-impaired members of their local community.

Although changing times had forced the Gisborne Hearing Association to close, its legacy has continued. The Sunrise Foundation will continue on with their good work and enable a structure which will over time return more to the community.

At Momentum Waikato discussions are ongoing locally for the transfer of assets such as land and capital to our care. Because investment for philanthropy is what we do the more we grow and diversify our funding pool the stronger and more effective we can be, so these Trust transfers are a win-win for all involved.

If you would like to consider entrusting your group’s funds to your local Community Foundation, or simply want to know more, contact your local Community Foundation today. It could be the best call you make to ensure that your Trusts’ purpose continues on forever.

Thinking big with little plans

Thinking big, sometimes with little plans

Eleanor Cater
25 June 2019

Philanthropy.  It’s not a word we use so much at Community Foundations, preferring to talk about giving and generosity in communities, but it’s hard not to use the ‘P’ word when you have attended two philanthropy conferences in the past month –  the thought-provoking Community Foundations of Canada conference in Victoria BC and the excellent Philanthropy NZ gathering here in Wellington last month. Both were, effectively, all about how to use philanthropy to shift power and to change the world.

Change is courageous and bold and the sector is moving towards trusting people closest to the problems to come up with the solutions. We need to build on our local relationships and let philanthropy move at the speed of that trust.

Youth voices. Women. Indigenous people. Ethnic minorities. Their voices are amplifying and it’s really encouraging to see. The future is more hopeful if we have the people in communities deciding what they need and involved in shaping their own future.

Which is why community philanthropy – or strategic generosity in communities –  is so very important.

In the big picture I think we need to operate more mindfully, integrating the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into our work where we can. Thinking big, sometimes with little plans; encouraging change can be one step at a time – for example, challenging our own assumptions and taking someone else with us.

If we can collectively grow the philanthropic pie – effectively growing generosity – and, together with our donors, distribute it more thoughtfully and with purpose, perhaps together we really can change the world.

One of my favourite quotes from Canada was from Edgar Villanueva: “Money is medicine, you can use it to heal”. Across the world the accumulation of wealth has resulted in a lot of trauma, but it can also be used for a sacred purpose. We give money its meaning and its power and, well, money can be our medicine too.

We can align money with our values, rethinking the role of money as a healing medicine, a power for both our health – yes, giving away money has health benefits! – and the wellbeing of our society.

Thinking big, sometimes with little plans. One conversation at a time we can help insightful and generous people to do great, changemaking work across Aotearoa New Zealand. That is philanthropy. Aroha.

A smart way forward for local charities

A smart way forward for local charities

Eleanor Cater,
20 May 2019

Many of us know the uncertainty that goes with the ‘scattergun’ approach to fundraising – grant applications out, donor campaigns trialed, ongoing stewardship of bequest prospects and a wide exploration of corporate opportunities and fundraising events. In the world of charity fundraising it sure can be hard to keep your head above water.

What if there was another way? One that will a) attract a more strategic type of donor and larger, more major gifts and b) ensure long term income streams for your charity?

Across New Zealand we work with many local charities who are keen to learn more about creating a sustainable income stream, one which keeps on giving so that the charity can get on with their important mission, their raison d’être, their reason for existing.

What is an endowment fund?

An endowment fund is a major gift or bequest which is invested and grown, with the income flowing back to the charity, in perpetuity (forever).

Ultimately the gift invested in perpetuity will return far more to your charity over time than the original gift would, and it can create a significant and sustainable income stream.

Further, endowment funds appeal to a smart new wave of major donors/bequest prospects and philanthropists, many of whom are increasingly feeling burnout from traditional forms of fundraising and multiple requests for donations.

Global research tells us that major donors are changing their habits and want to become more strategic and more involved in where their charity dollar goes. Our experience across New Zealand backs this up; Kiwis want to effect real change for the long term. They want to feel that philanthropic solutions are within their sphere of influence.

Check out some of the charity endowment funds and the top reasons for establishing them at the link and have a chat with your local Community Foundation today about the possibilities.

In today’s fundraising environment offering more strategic giving options like a professionally managed endowment fund is definitely a smart way forward for any charity.


Eleanor Cater is speaking at the FINZ Conference in June, alongside Acorn Foundation, about endowment funds and creating a sustainable income stream for your charity.

A timely launch for Te Awa

A timely launch for Te Awa

Stacey Scott, Chair CFNZ

Stacey Scott
Community Foundations of New Zealand
2 April 2019


This week Sir Stephen Tindall will launch New Zealand’s seventeenth community foundation, this one working for the benefit of the Horizons region (encompassing Palmerston North, Manawatu, Rangitikei, Tararua, Horowhenua, Whanganui and Ruapehu).

Sir Stephen Tindall

The new Te Awa Community Foundation will cover a vast area and it will have big potential for harnessing the region’s generosity in a meaningful way.

With this launch every single person in the North Island will have access to give to their community through a local community foundation, leaving us with just a few pockets in the South Island still to join us.

Across the country we are seeing how Community Foundations can act as a crucial link between local generosity and community needs.   It’s a timely launch as New Zealand gets set to experience the biggest intergenerational wealth transfer that the world has ever seen, from the baby boomer generation to the next. Community Foundations are well placed to help steer some of this wealth towards community transformation and making our world a better place.

The inaugural Te Awa Board, led by Chair and local Clive Pedley, has come together with a view to develop and build an organisation that will support and positively impact communities throughout the region.  Trusteeships are voluntary, which is a cornerstone feature of Community Foundations. They will be supported, in due course, by local committees and key advisory boards to ensure a genuine whole of region approach.

Te Awa Community Foundation will occupy a special niche between other local funders, local generosity and community causes. They will be a crucial local connector between all of these things and will drive wider community collaboration.

Welcome Te Awa Community Foundation and thank you The Tindall Foundation for your ongoing support. We are looking forward to helping Te Awa to become a terrific success for the region.


See our Facebook page for further photos on the launch event this week



Harnessing community generosity

Harnessing community generosity
for Christchurch

Eleanor Cater
Community Foundations of New Zealand
18 March 2019

We have all watched in horror as events have unfolded on March 15th, on what will be known forever as that black Friday in Christchurch. The ripple effect on Muslim communities, and far wider, will continue to be felt in the months and years to come.

This shocking event will change our country significantly, but we can make sure that some of these changes are positive. At times of real crisis there is a real desire for us all to think about what can we do, how we can help? Empathy is a powerful motivator and for us at Community Foundations we find ourselves wanting to find ways we can harness that angst and helpful energy towards something positive.

Click on the image for further details on how to donate

The Christchurch Foundation have acted quickly in setting up an emergency response. Direct donations will be channeled to families and Muslim communities where the funds are needed most, focusing on medium to long-term needs. The banking industry has come together and has already kick-started $1 million for the Fund.

As Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has said, “The only way communities can respond to hate is to come together with love, compassion and kindness”. And the community is responding magnificently, we are already seeing an outpouring of support and care for Christchurch in the form of donations which is indeed a most practical way to help ease the pain for the victims, their families, the resource-stretched agencies and volunteers on the ground.

In time we see that people often want to do more than the emergency response, so The Christchurch Foundation will eventually be talking with donors about giving with longevity to an endowment fund, supporting migrant communities. Perhaps now more than ever we need some structured solutions and a real sense that our efforts are going to make a real difference over time.

Image Credit: Twitter: https://twitter.com/rubyalicerose

Many Community Foundations already support refugee and migrant families through a range of initiatives, which include tertiary scholarships, direct support to agencies and funding for social enterprises. We aim to foster a greater sense of belonging in Aotearoa New Zealand and we want to enable generous people to be a part of shaping the future.

But for now you can give to the Christchurch ‘Our People, Our City Fund’, see details at this link. You can also contact The Christchurch Foundation at any time to talk about contributing to wider initiatives for the long term.

Kia kaha Christchurch.

Give back and get back

Give back and get back

Lori Luke
General Manager, Acorn Foundation
15 February 2019

It feels like 2019 has barely started, and here it is February already! The end of the fiscal year will come around before we know it. At Acorn Foundation —and at the other 15 local Community Foundations around New Zealand—we are working to remind our local people that a living giving donation to the community before 31 March will be eligible for a 33.33% tax credit.

Here’s a quick guide on how to access a tax credit for donations:

  • Make a one-off gift or engage in regular giving through an A/P before 31 March.
  • File tax credit claim form (IR526) for the relevant tax year from April of the following year.
    1. You must have earned taxable income from any source during the year.
    2. You must have resided in New Zealand during the year.
    3. You must file as an individual, not a company, trust or partnership

Hint: If you have missed filing tax credit forms for donations made in past years, the IRD will let you go back up to four years, for tax years 2015 through 2018 (see further details on the IRD website).

Here in the Western Bay of Plenty, most of our 320 endowment funds are held by people who are still alive. More and more, our incredibly generous donors are beginning to build their funds during their lifetimes. So many of them receive tremendous satisfaction by seeing the benefit of their contributions at work in our community.

Our donors support the Western Bay in all sorts of ways, from:

  • funding scholarships for Outward Bound, Dale Carnegie, tertiary education and international travel;
  • providing excellence awards for fiction writing, performing arts, creative arts and sports;
  • honouring children they lost much too soon by supporting causes that would have been meaningful to them;
  • and by working with the Acorn Foundation to find just the right local cause that matters most to them.

Because in the end, people give to causes for which they have a passion; the 33.3% tax credit just provides a really nice incentive to act before 31 March, and it makes your giving go further.

Contact your local Community Foundation today to discuss giving options and tax credits

Be the change

Be the change

Eleanor Cater
Community Foundations of New Zealand
December 14th 2018

While ‘inspired’ is a tired old word that gets thrown about, its stories of generous people who keep us constantly inspired to think more deeply about how we can affect change in communities across New Zealand. Perhaps stories of grassroots generosity are just what the world needs right now. You can read some of these stories here, which feature in the latest edition of NEXT magazine, they challenge us all to rethink the old assumption that you need to be from a certain demographic to be generous!

I never get tired hearing of the generosity of locals, of new ways that people are choosing to transform their communities. Some do it in small, yet significant ways – through regular giving or giving circles – while many choose to give big while they are alive to see the impact of their giving.  Yet others choose to give through a gift in their will. There is no right nor wrong way to give, and the beauty of Community Foundations is that they enable you to give how it suits your circumstances right now.

Structuring your giving to causes that you care about brings a lot of joy and fulfillment to many people. 10% in a Will is a popular choice we see across the board; as one donor recently commented to me “it’s a pretty painless way to give and doesn’t impact my family much”. I relate to this; with three children of my own I’m certain that their eventual inheritance of 30% rather than 33.3% of my estate would make not a jot of difference to them, but that 10% I gift to my local community will make real difference over time, where the gift will be invested and the income will flow back to the community – forever. It’s a really impactful way to leave a lasting legacy (see more here about the endowment investment model).

And, while inspired might be a tired old word, I do feel inspired by other generous people who give through their local Community Foundation. I hope that sharing more stories will enable others to feel the confidence to explore ways they can effect change in their own community, either by giving now or by giving later. 2019 will be a year of delving more meaningfully into our stories of generosity across New Zealand.

As Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Change is within our own sphere of influence, we can all contribute in both big and small ways.  Here’s to a generous and fulfilling 2019.


See ways to give through your local Community Foundation

Read stories of generous people giving to their local communities

The best job in the world

The best job in the world

Sandi Wood
Advance Ashburton Community Foundation
14 November 2018

I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world to be able to do what I do. Working in the philanthropic world of Community Foundations is a continual feeling of being both inspired and awestruck. Being able to meet everyday people that have such a passion for their community, that wish to be the changemakers and give so generously to causes that they care deeply about, is a privilege.

The concept is amazing and simple: local people are taking charge of transforming their communities by leaving a legacy for future generations to come. The impact will reach far beyond the measure of their lifetime; it’s strategic giving with real intent for transformative change.

As George G Kirstein very wisely said, “apart from the ballot box, philanthropy presents the one opportunity the individual has to express their meaningful choice over the direction in which our society will progress.” Here through our local Community Foundations we are helping people to find that opportunity.

When a vacancy arose on the Board of Community Foundations of New Zealand, it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.  This team is inspiring Community Foundations nationwide through strong leadership, guidance, advice and a collaborative approach to lobbying for change.  I can’t help but feel very honoured to be a part of such an inspirational team and I look forward to being able to offer a new dynamic with my hands-on experience.

We live in such impressive communities, with an overwhelming network of generous people, whether it be from volunteering time to donating money and everything in between – it is an unstoppable force that is making positive change everywhere.

Anyone can leave a legacy, and it is my passion to inspire generosity, to enable local people to donate to causes they are most passionate about. This is helping our future generations so they may never know the hardship of what it’s like to have a lack of resource or funding. It’s the best job in the world and I’m honored to be a part of it.


Sandi Wood has recently joined the Board of CFNZ, for further details and Board profiles go to the link.