Our stories

Ray Lis Sharp Professional

Ray and Lis Sharp

"We thought about what our life was all about and that it would be a whole lot more meaningful if we could leave something to the community."

Ray and Lis Sharp have lived most of their lives around Opotiki in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, where they first worked in accountancy, farmed sheep and cattle and, in later years, established and managed kiwifruit orchards.

Their four children grew up around the area and they feel a sense of responsibility and care for the district where they have built their businesses, which they see as intergenerational. The family plans to continue building opportunities, employing local people and giving back to the local community for the long-term.

Ray and Lis have chosen to leave a gift in their will of 10% of their estate to the local community, to be invested with Eastern Bay Community Foundation, with the income flowing back to local community causes, forever.

Ray says, “Our success has a lot more meaning and purpose if we can share our good fortune”. Ray and Lis have spoken to their four children about the gift and are pleased that they support their decision. “Our children are all on board, they think it’s a great thing we are doing.”

Barbara Blake e1528769798308

Barbara Blake

“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.”

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.

“As a mother, I know that teenagers can be a bit tricky and can sometimes seem hard to reach. However I also know that with some perseverance, guidance and a firm push in the right direction at critical moments, young people will flourish and exceed all our expectations”.

The Blake Fund will generate upwards of $20,000 in grants per annum, in perpetuity, for Wellington youth charities.

Barbara approached Nikau Foundation for assistance when she was struggling with a decision on which community groups to support. She was confident in starting her fund with Nikau Foundation because of the Foundation’s extensive knowledge of Wellington and its unique needs.

Graham Gunn 2

Graham Gunn

“You can see the positive difference Advance Ashburton Community Foundation is making in our community, and I feel very comfortable knowing that my legacy is in very safe hands”.

Graham Gunn is a man of many talents - a horticulturist, organist, choir singer, and a dahlia enthusiast, national judge, and patron. Graham is also passionate about the Ashburton District, and says, “I was born, raised and lived all my life in Ashburton, and I feel very fortunate to have done so. It gives me great satisfaction to know that through Advance Ashburton Community Foundation, I have set in place an effective, lasting way to give something back to the community that has been so good to me.”

Through a gift in his will, safeguarded by Advance Ashburton Community Foundation, Graham will be enabling scholarships to encourage, foster and support talented students in all things musical. The remainder of the income from his gift will provide for general purposes in the Ashburton District, and will support – forever - the greatest needs in his community.

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Maud Rankin

“It was so reassuring to find that a Community Foundation enabled us to give exactly in the way that we wanted to give, without the big fees.”

Maud says that, while she and her husband regularly support a wide range of causes, they have chosen a few ‘special ones’ to support in perpetuity through a gift in their will.

She says however that it wasn’t easy to discover how they could give in a way in which they wanted, avoiding 'the big fees'. It was their Financial Advisor who suggested that they take a look at their local Community Foundation, which as a not-for profit charges very low fees and enables personalised giving for the long-term.

Maud says that she and her husband had wanted to plan everything in advance and it now feels like a big weight has been lifted off her mind, “We now have things in order exactly how we want them.”

She adds that altruism is extremely rewarding. “It’s very warming. It gives real comfort to know that our wealth will go long-term to the causes which are close to our heart.”

Marisha Max Koh e1528768748573

Marisha (Max) Koh

“I like the way that endowment giving through Nikau Foundation is a more strategic way to give, and will benefit my beloved chosen causes forever”.

As a home owner Max Koh says that she wants to plan for the future and has made a will, including gifting her estate to Wellington’s Nikau Foundation to benefit her favourite causes, Cats Protection Wellington and Wellington Women’s Refuge, for the long-term.

She likes the idea that giving through Nikau Foundation enables her to give in exactly the way she wishes. “I like the idea of an endowment fund where the giving will go on forever. It is a much better way to give to my causes for the long-term through Nikau Foundation, rather than giving a sum of money directly to the charities to be spent.”

Gareth Foster

Gareth Foster

Giving makes me feel good, it’s great to give something back to the community I have lived in and loved for my whole life.”

Gareth Foster’s entire life has resided in Northland, and he has a number of local causes which are close to his heart.

Gareth is a male bass singer, and has performed for many years, including with the Whangarei Repertory Society and the Whangarei Theatre Company. He has always loved sport, particularly athletics and swimming, and he has seen the opportunities that investment in youth can bring to young talent. Gareth also has a love for education, which his mother instilled in him as a school teacher.

In writing his will, Gareth has naturally chosen to look after family and friends first, and has decided to leave the residual of his estate to benefit these causes that mean the most to him: namely opera, sports and education.

Gareth’s residual gift will be invested with Northland Community Foundation, with the income benefitting these causes of his choice forever, providing scholarships to up-and-coming young talent in his name.

Andrea Barry e1528769344669

Andrea Barry

“ ‘Live Here, Give Here’ is a statement that really resonates with us. We are making a legacy here in the Hawke’s Bay that will last forever”.

For some time Andrea Barry had been looking at ways that her family could get involved and give something back to support their community.

“Our local Community Foundation runs a well thought-out and proven business model where the grantee organisations are chosen by a panel of trusted advisers with the community knowledge to know who, what and where the greatest needs are. We know that our donation makes a difference.”

“I like the model of giving where the gift benefits many and the legacy can keep growing through the generations. We can choose to keep adding annually to our donation or take a break … regardless the donation keeps giving”.

Andrea also likes that she is able to target specific causes with personal meaning, “Whether it is within education, youth, sport, or a specific geographical location, I can choose the cause which benefits from our gift”.

Phil Carmichael

Phil Carmichael

“When you think about the fact that Acorn, my local Community Foundation, invests the funds and only gives away a portion each year you begin to understand the huge value of a Community Foundation. It means that your legacy will go on forever”.

Phil Carmichael likes the fact that, over time, his contributions to Acorn Foundation in Tauranga will become a good source of funding the community organisations he supports.

He says it’s particularly rewarding to give while he is alive. “That means I can get to see some of the results of my giving. And when I am gone my own children will be able to become involved. It sets a good example for them now and they may be encouraged to do the same”.

“By telling my story, I hope it helps the whole system to grow and create more awareness of the great work Community Foundations are doing in communities around New Zealand.”


John Larsen

“Giving to Sunrise Foundation is all about sustainability, it will return to the community forever.”

Local business man John Larsen is well known for his sense of humour and generous nature. In his early years in Gisborne John worked all around the district with his mobile sawmilling business.

John’s generous commitment to the community has seen him support a wide variety of local causes. He attended the launch of Sunrise Foundation, where Sir Stephen Tindall introduced the fledgling organisation and the idea behind the invested endowment fund model it operates.

John says he “picked up on the value of it immediately”, the model appealing to him as he knows that donations to Sunrise are a way to give forever.

“I know the value of money, you can’t just give, give and give into a black hole. That will fritter your money away and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Giving to Sunrise Foundation is all about sustainability, it will return to the community forever.”

Shirley Potter

Shirley Potter

“A gift in my Will was so simple and easy – an email to my lawyer and one to Geyser Community Foundation – done!”

Shirley Potter loves where she lives and has made a gift in her will to benefit the Tongariro Memorial Fund managed by Geyser Community Foundation.

It’s a cause which is dear to her heart. Shirley is employed as a Wetland Ranger for Project Tongariro for a few hours each week and the rest of the week she generously volunteers her time.

“Leaving a gift in my will to Project Tongariro means that the fantastic work that this largely voluntary organisation does in this beautiful part of the country will continue on long into the future”.

In the meantime, Shirley says she has plenty of pest animals and plants to deal to for a good number of years yet!

Jock Nowell Usticke e1528769633871

Jock Nowell-Usticke

“I think it’s really important to give back and it’s not just up to our parents’ generation to do it. You’ve got to start everything young, and flexing that ‘giving muscle’ should be part of everyone’s life-long exercise regime.”

Hawke’s Bay 28 year old, Jock Nowell-Usticke is busy carving out a music career and the world in which he now finds himself is global and borderless, driven by streaming, social media and the online universe. But Jock says he will always be a Hawke’s Bay boy at heart and he is already a regular giver to Hawke’s Bay Foundation.

“I had fantastic opportunities as a kid here – school was great, lots of chances to try new things, all in the beautiful Bay.”

While Jock says he doesn’t give a lot to the Foundation at the moment he gives what a ‘somewhat impoverished musician’ can. “But I know that each donation I make counts – I really like the fact that Hawke’s Bay Foundation knows where the greatest needs are in the Bay.”

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Stacey Scott

“The beauty of giving while you are living is that you are able to see the benefits of your contribution.”

Stacey Scott likes the idea of supporting her community and providing an example of giving and generosity for her four children. She allocates a small sum weekly to go to her own fund, the Scott Family Endowment Fund, managed by Aoraki Foundation in South Canterbury. Stacey has also made a gift of 10% of her estate to be left to the Fund when she leaves this world.

Stacey likes the idea that her contributions are invested and will be channeled to community groups who need it most. She also gets great joy from the idea that her gifts will be invested and will continue to support her community forever.

“The beauty of giving while you are living is that you’re able to see the benefits of your contribution”. Stacey’s advice to others is to figure out what they’re passionate about and focus on that. “It might be a cause that has touched you personally or is important to your family. And it doesn’t have to be a lot of either money or time because every little bit helps. Giving through your local Community Foundation is easy and is a richly rewarding experience”.

Top tips for leaving a charitable gift in your will, by the New Zealand Law Society

"When people leave a legacy through their local Community Foundation we often hear how fulfilling it is for them, personally. What often strikes me is that this is changemaking work, not just for communities, but also for the generous people who decide to do it."

Eleanor Eleanor Cater, Community Foundations of NZ