Thoughtful, grassroots generosity

Thoughtful, grassroots generosity

Tony Paine
Chief Executive, Philanthropy NZ
16 November 2017

The Community Foundation movement has grown in New Zealand to the point where almost all communities across the country have access to, or are establishing, Foundations. That is great news for people who want to ‘give where they live’, and it will see a significant increase in grantmaking and community support as a result. It is also a testament to the hard work of everyone involved, and the commitment of the Tindall Foundation whose work in this space has been pioneering.

International experience (recent US research shows contributions to donor-advised funds outpaced overall giving by a wide margin again last year) and the track record to-date here suggests the trajectory is all positive. If we can continue to promote and support Community Foundations, there is the potential to create combined portfolios well past the hundred-million-dollar mark, with a growth in local grantmaking at a related scale.

At the heart of the Community Foundation model are three values that resonate for Kiwis. Community Foundations of New Zealand name them as being about:

  • Place—geographically defined, drawing on the love of local community
  • Cause—donor-led giving
  • Forever—the gift will never be spent but continue giving to the local cause in perpetuity.

Put these three factors together and they are powerful drivers of personal generosity that are already supporting significant grantmaking in a number of New Zealand towns and cities.

Like all of philanthropy and grantmaking, Community Foundations are as diverse as their communities and have taken different approaches in different parts of the country. That should be celebrated, as should the steps towards new initiatives like Auckland Foundation’s Women’s Fund or Acorn Foundation and Momentum Waikato’s work on Vital Signs projects which set a great benchmark for regional conversations about impact, priorities, and measurement of change.

Philanthropy New Zealand was delighted to develop an MOU with Community Foundations of NZ. We will support their work promoting the Community Foundation model and ensuring that the grantmaking managed by Community Foundations continues to be an exemplar of thoughtful, grassroots generosity.


Community Foundations of New Zealand are proud to partner with Philanthropy New Zealand, promoting personal generosity in communities across New Zealand. See further details at the link.

Wisdom from Canada

Wisdom from Canada

liz palmieriLiz Palmieri
Liz Palmieri and Associates (former Executive Director of Niagara Community Foundation)
8 August 2017

This year in Ottawa I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet representatives from Community Foundations in New Zealand, where they are fairly new by world standards and growing. It made me think of Canada decades ago and I’m excited for New Zealand as it heads into the next stages of growing the movement.

I was honoured to then be invited to run a workshop for Community Foundations in New Zealand, I gather on the strength of my experience as the first Executive Director of the Niagara Community Foundation in Canada.  I started there in 2001 and we were housed in an office that was donated by a local newspaper. We had raised enough operating funds to cover the first three years of operation and I was the only staff person. It was very small beginnings and, looking back, quite terrifying at times when you are expected to do everything.

I left Niagara Community Foundation in May 2016 and it was through the support and commitment of so many wonderful volunteers, donors, and supporters that our foundation increased our assets to $30 million and our annual grants being made are at more than $1.3 million.

I’m looking forward to leading and participating in sessions at the New Zealand workshop, I am sure that I will learn lots from New Zealand Community Foundations and am looking forward to sharing lessons learned and best practices from the Canadian Community Foundation movement.  I believe that much of what I learned along the way will be particularly relevant as the movement grows in New Zealand.

During the years that we were building our Community Foundation in Niagara the support that we received from Community Foundations of Canada, as well as our peers across the country, was instrumental to our success.  We shared resources, policies, and practices so we didn’t have to invent the wheel every step of the way.  We could also ask dumb questions to our colleagues and it was their answers that made us appear brilliant to our Trustees!

There is a saying in the Community Foundation movement that “when you see one Community Foundation you see one Community Foundation”.  While we fundamentally are in the same business, we are all unique in how we reflect our own communities within our Community Foundation.

See you in Wellington in September, I am so looking forward to doing what I can to assist in building momentum in New Zealand.


See the CFNZ Workshop Programme at the link here.

Small can mean big in terms of success!

Small can mean big in terms of success!

Margaret rickardMargaret Rickard
Advance Ashburton Community Foundation
27 July 2017

It’s funny to reflect that, when the idea of starting a Foundation in the Ashburton district was first put forward in 2003, the general feeling was that the Ashburton district (population approximately 30,000) was too small.

Through patience, hard work and the tenacity of Neil Sinclair (the first chair) and his Trustees Advance Ashburton had time to grow slowly, but surely, to the size and strength it is now – currently $10.2 million under managed funds.

There was very little expenditure and no staff for the first seven years and, when I was employed as the first Executive Officer in 2010, total assets were $569,000.

The success which followed was based on a lot of hard work! The Board all used their considerable time, skills and influence to make things happen. Looking back I think it could be underestimated how much hard work and passion has been put in by a small group.

I think that a small community has the powerful ability to use networks well. If the Board and staff are well chosen those networks will ensure progress is made. A small community, such as ours, is also delightfully parochial. We do not look to the national picture, we just want it to work locally. This has great appeal to our donors. Our donors like to see the results of their generosity. This may be a donor visiting the school, or it may be donors meeting and following the progress of local young people who have been awarded scholarships.

Some of the values that have been important to our growth have been simple but effective. A good reputation, not spending unnecessarily, good investing, great relationships with local media, displaying professionalism and a caring attitude, the integrity and standing of Trustees and staff in the community, really looking after our donors and making sure we tell their story often. We care and it shows.

The Ashburton Hospital redevelopment ($1.5 million last year through Advance Ashburton), the establishment of the Rural Health Academic Centre Ashburton (funded by two of our donors), the BOOST programme (over 100  seven-eight year olds receiving additional literacy help within the primary school system), our scholarship programme ($ 53,000 last year); our assistance at the local high school for a group of “out of control” 13 and 14 year olds – these major grants have all played their part in building community awareness of what we do.

Advance Ashburton gives small grants to many community groups but it is finding the “need” in the community and then finding donors to match that “need”, that has the real impact.

Make no mistake; a small population base does not at all mean “small” in terms of the success of a Community Foundation!


Margaret Rickard has signed off after seven years driving Advance Ashburton to become such a local force for good. Read more about the rise of this Community Foundation in the Ashburton Guardian here.