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. 

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

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.

Our generous women

Our generous women

dellwynDellwyn Stuart
CEO, Auckland Foundation

5 July 2017

Women are becoming more and more influential in philanthropy, as earning power and financial independence grows. They control more of the financial pie than ever before and this is set to rise with a huge wealth transfer on the horizon and women set to be significant winners.

Research tells us that women tend to view money in terms of personal security, freedom and a way to achieve goals – so does it translate that women’s giving is different?

While there is no New Zealand specific research, some studies in the US have looked at philanthropy from this perspective.   The findings say that women tend to be more altruistic and empathetic, partly because of the way they are socialised regarding caring, self-sacrifice and the well-being of others. The research also suggests that women tend to give to promote social change or help others who are less fortunate.   In addition, they found that women are nearly twice as likely as men to say that giving to charity is the most satisfying aspect of having wealth.

There is another characteristic of women’s philanthropy that has emerged globally and that is collective giving.  The collective giving model pools individual dollars to make significantly larger grants, allowing people of all levels of wealth to participate in big gifts.   It appeals to women because it is a flexible, grass roots model that taps into several emotional drivers of women: creating relationships and community as well as working together for common causes.

Around the world Community Foundations have fostered the growth of Women’s Funds – large collectives that use their pooled funds to make significant grants.  Many focus their grant making on women and girls in their community, applying a gender lens to create greater equity.  This acknowledges that women face different kinds of economic and social challenges, which require different solutions.

In New Zealand, Community Foundations are exploring launching a similar focus on women’s giving.  We’d like to bring like-minded generous women together to learn, collaborate, and make a difference in our communities – while also having some fun!


Auckland Foundation are inviting interested people to attend a breakfast on July 14th to hear about what makes women’s giving different and the vision for this new network and fund. To become involved and for further details email 

The fastest-growing form of philanthropy in the world … and it’s happening right here!

The fastest-growing form of philanthropy in the world … and it’s happening right here!

Stacey-ScottStacey Scott
Chair, Community Foundations of New Zealand
12 June 2017

What an incredible journey it’s been getting to this point in time with 14 vibrant Community Foundations operating around the country.

And we can only grow; currently we are investigating opportunities in several communities so far not covered by our network. It’s our goal to give everyone in New Zealand access to their very own Community Foundation so they can give where they live and build on crucial and locally-managed, independent endowment funds for the future.

This year sees us striding ahead with the appointment of our first Executive Officer, Eleanor Cater, which will help us work on some of the more  strategic factors such as our growing our network, and growing the message that there is a credible and active vehicle for localised philanthropy in New Zealand. Our Community Foundations have a wealth of knowledge and one of the key strengths in our network is collaboration and information sharing. One Community Foundation’s success is everyone’s success, that is why expansion is so important to us, we are stronger with the sharing of knowledge and resources.

Currently we are working on developing resources for new, start-up Community Foundations in New Zealand and these, along with the support and knowledge base already out there, will make it easy for new Community Foundations to begin that journey for themselves.  It’s an exciting time of planning and development.

If you want to be in touch regarding starting a new Community Foundation in your community please contact us, we will be more than happy to chat through the opportunities.

When you consider that Acorn Foundation, for example, is only 14 years old and already has funds totalling $18m, with anticipated funds of $150m in the pipeline, you can begin to see what can be achieved in even small communities with a local focus, commitment and care. Know-how is important when it comes to starting and growing an endowment fund, but it’s worth all the effort as the future grant-making impact on local communities can be huge.

It’s a fact that Community Foundations and place-based philanthropy is the fastest-growing form of philanthropy in the world. And it’s easily matched up with the Kiwi way of generosity and loving our communities.

Will you join us?

The answers have to come from community

margot mccoolThe answers have to come from community

Margot McCool
Acorn Foundation
17 May 2017

Community Foundations of Canada’s 2017 conference delivered a strong message that Community Foundations everywhere have the responsibility and the ability to be change-makers in bringing about tolerance, reconciliation, and a better life for those in our communities who do not have the same opportunities to create their own Good Life.

Based on the conference theme “Belong 2017”, powerful presentations from a number of community leaders in Canada reinforced how important a strong sense of belonging is if we are to have healthy, inclusive communities. We all have an inherent desire to belong, but there are many who are still trying to find their place – even those who were born here but whose racial, religious, sexual or cultural identity doesn’t necessarily comply with what many in our country would consider to be “us”.

The answers have to come from community.

Diversity brings richness to society, so we should all encourage and celebrate diversity. This is particularly evident when it comes to the way we treat immigrants – the word “integration” is often used, but integration implies “you must change to be like us”. When we don’t embrace and celebrate other cultures, we imply that their intelligence is less valid and they are inferior in some way. Let’s open our communities to allow everyone to shine in their own way – we can all be changemakers simply by the way we treat every person we encounter.

There are many parallels between Canada, where there were and continue to be significant injustices done to their First Nations people, and New Zealand. Whilst we might like to think that New Zealand has made great progress in our own reconciliation pathway, the statistics on crime, incarceration, unemployment and education outcomes suggest otherwise – we cannot afford to take our eye off the end game.

Community Foundations can make a difference by encouraging community dialogue on these issues, and taking leadership when it comes to building strong, caring communities where we are all equal.

Do you want to know what a modern-day philanthropist looks like?

eleanor squareDo you want to know what a modern-day philanthropist looks like? Look in the mirror.

Eleanor Cater
1st May 2017

I read this quote recently and it really struck a chord.

While philanthropy has associations with the rich and famous, you don’t need to be wealthy to be generous.

The Oxford dictionary defines philanthropy as:
“A person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.”

Business takes it further:
“A Greek term, which directly translated means “love of mankind”. Philanthropy is an idea, event or action that is done to better humanity and usually involves some sacrifice…”

It’s certainly big picture stuff and mostly about the impact rather than the size of the philanthropic gesture, which brings me to the point of this blog post; we can all be philanthropists, in big and small ways.

We see this at Community Foundations nationwide, for example at Momentum Waikato in their latest initiative: their Vital Impact Programme, where every Waikato person has an opportunity to participate: “a child with $10 pocket money can team up with a person who gives 10% of their salary, or a successful business leader who gives $10m, alongside many other generous Waikato people who wish to collectively support significant projects – taking action and making a difference together.”

It’s inspiring the next generation to be generous and reassuring them that their contribution is just as important as the local business owner’s donation or civic leader’s support.

mirrorIt’s seeing change as being within everyone’s sphere of influence, not just the rich and famous.

It’s the child looking in the mirror and seeing the philanthropist, or changemaker, they are becoming and it’s happening in a community near you.

The most generous region in the world?

cherylThe most generous region in the world?

Cheryl Reynolds, 
Chief Executive, Momentum Waikato
29 March 2017


In an uncertain world, we are so fortunate to live here in the beautiful Waikato. Ours is a bountiful, safe and happy region, full of generous people who care about their neighbours, friends and families. To us, caring for others is simply who we are, and what we have done for generations. But actually, it’s something to marvel over and cherish in this global age of ‘me first’.

Momentum Waikato’s gift to our community, Waikato Vital Signs, helped shine a light on those things we love and do well, and other things we love that need our support in order for our community to fully flourish. Having asked for input from people on the ground across our communities, we now have real data that highlights areas of priority for ten important themes, all touching things important to our kiwi way of life. The reason this information is crucial to our future is that it enables each of us to learn about and decide what we wish to prioritise and give our time and resources to supporting.

I’d like to propose something to you that I’ve actually been thinking about for quite a while. Having always made philanthropy a priority in my professional and personal life, it is in my present role as Chief Executive of Momentum Waikato that I feel an obligation to issue a challenge to all of us: How would it look if we became the most generous region in the world?

I don’t think it a far-fetched idea. We already know we have a passion for this place we all love. We can agree we all have an interest in making it better. It serves us now and in the future to do that. So how do we go about it? I have a few ideas.

Let’s start by taking a moment for introspection. Think about who and what are most important to you in your life. Don’t even give a thought to the amount of money you earn or what you may have amassed. What matters is your intention. The next thing to do is figure out what things, places or organisations are meaningful to you. If you can determine where you wish to make a difference, the rest is much easier. That’s where this Community Foundation can help. We put people, ideas and projects together like a beautiful patchwork quilt. Reach out to us and we can connect you with others who have the same dreams and intentions for meaningful results to take place.

You see, Momentum Waikato was created so that all of us have an opportunity to play a part in making our region better. It is up to each of us, regardless of our personal means and professional positions, to put up our hands and work together. I do believe we already are incredibly generous in nature. The challenge now is for us to come together and prove it to the rest of the world.

Momentum Waikato is encouraging generosity across the region. Go to their website for the latest news and to find out how you might become involved in their work.