Community Foundations of New Zealand
10 March 2020
Community Foundations have a bit of a unique role in communities.
We operate with one foot in the charity sector and the other in the philanthropy sector. Our key roles include connecting local causes with sources of philanthropy, enabling community conversations around funding priorities, strengthening our communities and growing generosity. For this we provide a really diverse generosity and grant-making service.
It’s a pretty unique place to be.
Being on the Board of a Community Foundation is one-of-a-kind type of work. It’s a really important position and comes with it quite a responsibility; good governance will grow a really success foundation that will be changemaking in communities. Poor governance will do local communities a real disservice.
And it’s an important philanthropic niche that needs to be filled, harnessing the generosity of a region which sits well alongside other funders and provides a growth in philanthropic dollars that the community may not otherwise see. The endowment model also strengthens local charities, by providing sustainable and dependable income streams, so important so that charities can get on with their mission.
The governance role within Community Foundations is really unique as well. Firstly, it’s important that our Trustees across the country are professional, well respected and do not receive fees for their work. All of these points are crucial in giving donors the confidence to give. They are also important for the forever endowment model we champion, as a not- for-profit we make sure that our structures are lean and our investments are well managed so that invested funds are protected against inflationary pressure and can continue to hold their value over time (even in this really challenging market we are mindful that we are in this for the long-haul). Our lean structure is a crucial point of difference between Community Foundations and other profit-making models out there.
We also ask our Boards of Trustees to have what we term ‘skin in the game’: if you believe in the idea of generous people being a key part of community transformation, then you simply must lead from the front.
I’m really proud to talk about why I give through Aoraki Foundation, my local Community Foundation, because for me I think it’s important to contribute to the areas of highest need in Timaru. For me it’s also intergenerational, I contribute to our Scott Family Endowment Fund every month and I’ll be asking my children to do the same when they are older. I’ve also left a gift to the local community as a percentage in my will, which will ensure that our family fund will grow to a useful size and continue to give back forever.
I truly don’t think that I can ask others to give in this way if I’m not doing it myself.
So, Community Foundations are not only unique, we also ask for high standards from our Boards across the country, that they focus on good governance and that they ‘walk the talk’. We will continue to do this and we hope that gives donors comfort and confidence that their valuable community gifts are in the right place.
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