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

A more strategic way to give

A more strategic way for clients to give


By Bill Holland, Partner, Holland Beckett Law
CFNZ Board member
24 August 2017 

As a lawyer I think it’s a privilege of developing what can be very strong and longstanding relationships with my clients.  They come to us as trusted advisers, seeking guidance on a range of issues, and sometimes not of a strictly legal nature.

As professionals, it is definitely not for us to be telling clients what they should be doing in their Wills. It is incumbent on us however to fully advise our clients of options that are available when making a Will.

People without children who have worked hard to establish their financial security are sometimes genuinely frustrated at just not knowing what to do with their estates.  For these people, the idea of making a positive difference to their community on a permanent basis by having income paid to their chosen charity every year forever, is a very attractive one.

Likewise, parents with children naturally want to help their children first, but many love the idea of leaving, say, 10% of their estate to their local Community Foundation to provide that same long-term benefit to their community.

As a lawyer, I often know my clients very well.  When they seek my advice on their making their Wills, the discussion can often lead to charitable giving and I then explain that could be either a direct gift to a charity or a permanent endowment gift through a community foundation.  My experience has been that most seem to prefer endowment giving.

I have never sensed any resentment from clients for having raised the option of charitable giving.  On the contrary, I have had many clients who have become very enthusiastic.  Not only have they made provision for in their Wills, but in many cases they have chosen to start giving while they are living.  One client said, “It is better to give with a warm hand than a cold one”, but then she confessed that what was even better was getting the 33% tax refund on her gift!

If you are a lawyer or professional financial advisor and you are not familiar with your local Community Foundation already, I suggest that you get in touch. They are a powerful connector of generosity to local causes and, as a lawyer, your role in the process is key.


See Bill Holland’s article in the New Zealand Law Society’s Lawtalk magazine

Hear Bill Holland’s interview on Radio NZ all about Community Foundations – 12 October 2017

Contact your local Community Foundation