An immensely rewarding journey

Ken Whitney
Chair Philanthropy New Zealand, Trustee Auckland Foundation
16 July 2020

It is a common misapprehension that philanthropic giving is only useful if it is large in scale and amount and that the small donor cannot really make a difference.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Many organisations right across the philanthropic spectrum comprise large numbers of volunteers who only need relatively small amounts to enable them to do amazing work.

Whether it is in violence prevention, refugee assistance, literacy programmes, drop-in community centres for at-risk youth, or many other local causes, the vital work of addressing social and human needs depends on community support. This is real front-line stuff where every dollar is used extremely effectively by countless unsung heroes as they go about their work.

I have first-hand experience of this through my involvement with Auckland Foundation’s Grassroots Giving Programme, which seeks to direct small amounts to local community groups helping to build an inclusive society by plugging gaps in support for those who are struggling. Usually the amounts required are quite modest but facilitate very positive outcomes.

The unique model of Community Foundations enables individuals or families to start a philanthropic journey by donating regularly into a separate endowment fund in their name, which can be applied to causes the donors find compelling.

Over time their funds build up to the point where some significant good can be done on a regular basis. It is important, in my view, that donors remain connected to their chosen causes and hear about the success of the programmes they have helped to fund because stories about the outcomes achieved can be tremendously inspiring and uplifting.

Seeing a number of small successes at an individual level can give us hope when the issues around us often seem rather overwhelming.

Most philanthropic experiences begin with small donations motivated by a desire to make an unfair world a better place.

It has been said that from small acorns great oaks grow, and we should never underestimate the power of a small gift to change lives. I promise you it will be an immensely rewarding journey.

Date Posted: 16 Jul 2020

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