Kiwis step up generosity

Sue McCabe
Chief Executive
Philanthropy New Zealand

1 September 2021

Aotearoa New Zealand is known to be a generous country due to its levels of volunteering, people’s willingness to help a stranger and how much money is donated to community organisations.

When the impact of Covid-19 hit, there was concern that a decrease in incomes and predicted lower returns on investments would reduce donation levels.

This worry was in the context of skyrocketing community need as people lost work in the first lockdown, and the knowledge that the implications of the pandemic would be ongoing in terms of changed levels and types of support needed. Government significantly increased spend to alleviate the impacts, but Government funding is never enough and public generosity is always important.

While we don’t have hard data on the amount given since Covid-19, there are many reassuring signs that our generosity remains strong if not increased. We’ve heard from a range of public generosity vehicles that while some people did need to reduce their giving, new donors materialised and others increased their philanthropy.

We know that people gave to meet the immediate need, responding with huge heart as they always do after a major event in Aotearoa New Zealand. On top of this outpouring of reactive giving, we’ve continually heard more examples of increased planned giving.

Covid-19 shone a light on the community need that exists and the critical work of our community and voluntary sector to meet it. The work of charities is essential for our country’s social, environmental and economic wellbeing, and public support makes a difference.

The Community Foundation movement is an example of Kiwi generosity. Growing strongly before Covid both here and around the world, they’ve seen rapid growth in people using them as a giving vehicle over the past 12 months.

The Community Foundations New Zealand (CFNZ) network now has $200m under investment, up from $150m in the previous 12 months. They distribute these funds over time to charities in accordance with donor wishes, and using their knowledge of community to make good decisions where the donations go.

The funds already under management only tells part of the story, as a considerable proportion of funds come from bequests. The CFNZ network has seen a massive increase over the past year in people letting them know they’ve leaving funds in their will for foundations to manage and distribute for good. The good will snowball.

September is Wills Month, and I add my voice to Community Foundations to encourage Kiwis who can to include a provision in their estate so that their legacy includes making a difference to the community causes they care about.

Read about Community Foundations in the Sunday Star Times

Date Posted: 01 Sep 2021

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