Community Foundations: a growing movement

November 16, 2017

The community foundation movement has grown in New Zealand to the point where almost all communities across the country have access to, or are establishing, foundations. That is great news for people who want to ‘give where they live’, and it will see a significant increase in grantmaking and community support as a result. It is also a testament to the hard work of everyone involved and the commitment of the Tindall Foundation whose work in this space has been pioneering.

International experience (recent US research shows contributions to donor-advised funds outpaced overall giving by a wide margin again last year) and the track record to-date here suggests the trajectory is all positive. If we can continue to promote and support community foundations, there is the potential to create combined portfolios well past the hundred-million-dollar mark, with a growth in local grantmaking at a related scale.

At the heart of the community foundation model are three values that resonate for Kiwis. Community Foundations of New Zealand name them as being about:

 Place—geographically defined, drawing on the love of local community
Cause—donor-led giving
Forever—the gift will never be spent but continue giving to the local cause in perpetuity.

Put these three factors together and they are powerful drivers of personal generosity that are already supporting significant grantmaking in a number of New Zealand towns and cities.

Like all of philanthropy and grantmaking, community foundations are as diverse as their communities and have taken different approaches in different parts of the country. That should be celebrated, as should the steps towards new initiatives like Auckland Foundation’s Women’s Fund or Acorn Foundation and Momentum Waikato’s work on Vital Signs projects which set a great benchmark for regional conversations about impact, priorities, and measurement of change.

Philanthropy New Zealand was delighted to develop an MOU with Community Foundations of NZ. We will support their work promoting the community foundation model and ensuring that the grantmaking managed by community foundations continues to be an exemplar of thoughtful, grassroots generosity.