Media release - September is Wills Month

A new way of giving that is seeing exponential growth across New Zealand – 33% in one year

Embargoed until 29th August 2021

Community Foundations are unique local trusts which grow from local generosity. They have been growing as a network across NZ since 2003, and have recently seen a rapid increase in their invested funds under management, a staggering growth of 33% in one year.

Chair of Community Foundations of New Zealand, Raymond Key, says much of it is down to kiwi generosity in challenging times. “We are a very generous nation and, increasingly New Zealanders like to see their generosity really making a difference. Kiwis really like this model of giving in a strategic way to communities.”

“Community Foundations can assist people to make an impact in their local community and help them create their enduring legacy. This is demonstrated by our extraordinary growth of 33% over the last 12 months, during one of the most challenging periods in New Zealand’s history.”

In the past year, funds managed across the young Community Foundations network have grown from $150m to $200m. “This doesn’t take into account that most of our funds are in the pipeline as bequests, expected to total a further $400m – and this is how Community Foundations are looking in NZ, in their youth”, said Key.

“Community Foundations are becoming a serious funding entity, distributing $50m into NZ communities in the past 5 years. It’s incredible to see what is being achieved from local generosity, and this is starting to really make a difference in communities.”

Key himself is Chairperson of Wakatipu Community Foundation, a young Foundation which has distributed over $1m to the local community in and around Queenstown, during challenging Covid times.

Community Foundations have been establishing across NZ for the past 18 years and are largely growing from direct donations, estate gifts (bequests) and trust resettlements. Funds are pooled and invested, tagged for particular purposes, with the income from investments giving back to communities for the long-term. “It’s a clever funding model with longevity, which appeals to strategic-thinking people who really want to make a difference”, said Key.

Sue McCabe, CEO of Philanthropy NZ said, “Kiwis are very generous and one of the fastest growing generosity intermediaries is the Community Foundations movement. They harness the generosity of a region, invest gifts and ensure donations make a real difference in our own back yard. It’s heartening to see the increasing growth which is building philanthropy in communities in Aotearoa NZ.”

Donor stories

Community Foundation donor, Barbara Blake, has set up The Blake Fund through Wellington’s Nikau Foundation to support organisations that contribute to the health and well-being of young people, with an emphasis on young women (15-25), Māori, Pacific Island, migrants and lesbian/gay communities. The Blake Fund will generate upwards of $20k in grants per annum, in perpetuity, for Wellington youth charities. Barbara said, “Giving through my local Community Foundation relieves the burden of how to make the best choice of which cause to support. I’m confident that my gift goes to where the greatest need is.”

Vicki and John Haylock grew up and have raised their own family in Taranaki. When their beloved uncle, Dr. Basil Clarke, passed away and they received an inheritance, they decided to use some of it to honour his memory. They set up the Dr. BF Clarke Fund through Taranaki Foundation, which will make grants to forever benefit health, wellbeing and education projects for Taranaki people. Vicki and John also decided to make Dr. Clarke’s fund a family affair, and will leave 10% of their own estate as a gift in their wills, which will add to the fund and its impact. “Community Foundations are a wonderful way to leave a long-lasting and flexible gift for our community, which can be used to respond to local needs as they change over time," said Vicki.

Ashburton farmers Bob and Alan Johnston really like the concept of a Community Foundation, where their gifts would be invested, grown and give back to their community forever. The brothers decided to give in three ways through Advance Ashburton Community Foundation: through scholarships for promising young medical students, direct funding to current community needs and, eventually, through a gift in their wills. Alan said, “Advance Ashburton Community Foundation is all about advancing Ashburton; we want to see our Community Foundation be successful for our district for the long-term.”



    Further information for editors

    Community Foundations (17 across Aotearoa NZ) run a not-for-profit model that pools and invests donations, protects them against inflation and gives back the income to communities for the long term. They are different from NZ’s Community Trusts in that they are constantly growing from local generosity, and donors can specify which causes they wish to support.

    There are 1800 Community Foundations worldwide and, internationally, the endowment or donor-advised funds that Community Foundations manage are described as ‘the fastest growing form of philanthropy in the world today’.

    While a relatively young movement here, already New Zealand’s 17 Community Foundations manage $200m in invested funds and have received promises of an estimated $400m+ in bequests, all from local kiwi generosity.

    Community Foundations have been established in the USA and Canada for over 100 years. They are now an established network in Europe and growing across Australia and New Zealand. Wellington's Nikau Foundation is the oldest Community Foundation in New Zealand and the network began with the establishment of the Acorn Foundation in Tauranga in 2003.

    The Tindall Foundation are supporters of growing community philanthropy and have helped to fund the establishment and capacity building of Community Foundations across NZ. Four new Community Foundations have been launched since 2017 and 85% of New Zealanders now have access to give through their local Community Foundation.

    Across the world September is Wills Month and Community Foundations use this time to promote the opportunity for generous kiwis to leave a gift in their will (or a bequest), to be invested forever to benefit their local community.

    See further donor stories with heart and soul on our website - Interviews with donors, and the impact they are making locally, can be arranged for a feature story.

    For further information go to


    Key Contacts

    Eleanor Cater, Marketing Director, Community Foundations of NZ

    027 407 1073

    Arron Perriam, Executive Director, Community Foundations of NZ – Arron is available for media interviews

    027 670 9005

    Raymond Key, Board Chair, Community Foundations of NZ

    027 442 3601

    Sue McCabe, CEO, Philanthropy NZ

    021 263 9639