Q&A: Julia Hunter, Donations Manager, Hugo Charitable Trust

June 6, 2018

Julia Hunter is the Donations Manager for a family charity, Hugo Charitable Trust (“Hugo”). Hugo was founded in May 2017 by Maryanne Green to honour the legacy of her father, Hugh Green, and the values that he and Maryanne developed over the 25 years they worked closely together. www.hugocharitabletrust.nz

  1. Can you tell us about the Hugo Charitable Trust? 

The Hugo Charitable Trust was set up for the future benefit of Aotearoa New Zealand and all New Zealanders. We make donations nationwide and our charitable purposes are very broad. Hugo invests in the relief of poverty, the advancement of family, social and community welfare, and the care and support of the disadvantaged or marginalised. We have also made significant donations to medical research as well as to many education initiatives.

  1. What is your role and what does it involve?

My role is both reactive and proactive in terms of researching and presenting initiatives to our trustees and founder for them to consider. The Hugo Charitable Trust does not have a formal applications process. Instead, I respond to people who contact Hugo for support and to referrals from Hugo Friends (people who have a connection to Hugo) and other philanthropic groups. I also actively look for good initiatives to put forward to the Hugo trustees.

We are a small team at Hugo: myself; our donations officer, Aoibheann Monaghan; and our CFO, Kerry Ludlam. We also work closely with our founder. We meet with donees, carry out due diligence, organise events and communications, and present to our founder and trustees. I am lucky to have such great, supportive colleagues.

  1. What are some of the challenges of your role?

We like to help as many people as we can, but there is an almost overwhelming need in our communities. We do not ask applicants to fill in forms. We prefer to meet with people and experience community projects/initiatives first-hand. I love this aspect of the job, but it can be a challenge responding to all the requests.

It is hard when you can’t help someone, because their request doesn’t fit within our purposes or current area of focus. That is why collaboration in the philanthropic sector is so important and being aware of everyone’s different funding areas. It is helpful to refer people on.

  1. What was your first ever experience in the not-for-profit / grantmaking sector? What was your role before joining Hugo?

My background is in law and health policy and I have mainly worked for public sector organisations. I worked at a non-profit health care advocacy organisation in Boston called Community Catalyst in 2001. And I am currently on the board of Changing Minds – a mental health and addictions charity.

I am new to the donations-making sector. I am therefore looking forward to attending Philanthropy New Zealand’s upcoming Great Grantmaking professional development course!

  1. What have been some major highlights of the last year?

We have been really impressed with all the charities we have supported over the last year. Our support for the Kootuitui ki Papakura Trust, which is associated with the Middlemore Foundation’s Mana-ā-Riki Pilot Programme, was a real highlight. The enhanced health service at Papakura High School and at the primary schools in the Kootuitui cluster of schools has been successful. Also, the whānau group of mothers involved in the Homes Strand of that pilot, from the co-design stage through to being trained and becoming community trainers themselves, has impressed me beyond words.

Hugo invited three different groups of young people to go out into their communities and research charities to present to the trustees  – “Dragons Den” style. We wanted the groups to engage with their communities and think more deeply about charitable work and giving. We were impressed with the enthusiasm with which the groups embarked on the exercise, and the connections they all made with their chosen charities. It was a rewarding experience for everyone and nine new Hugo donations were made as a result.

For more details of all the great organisations Hugo has donated to over the past year, please read our Annual Report 

  1. Finish the sentence
    For me, good philanthropy is…
    a hand up not a hand out. This is a key part of Hugo’s philosophy around giving. I think good philanthropy is also about being engaged with the people and charities you support and, through making those connections, seeing where you can add the most value.
  2. What is one of the most interesting books or pieces of research relating to the sector that you’ve read recently? Why? (please include title and link if available)

I have chosen two books that the Hugo team received recently from a couple of our donation recipients:

MIXIT: It’s all of us by Wendy Preston

This book celebrates a powerful New Zealand example of community engagement and development. It shares the stories of migrant and refugee youth, their families, and artists who have been involved with Mixit’s creative art programme over the last 12-years.

You Have the Power to Change Stuff by Daniel Flynn. This is the behind-the-scenes story of a social enterprise in Australia called Thank You. It is a motivational read and a reminder of the power of ideas.

  1. What do you like to do outside of work?

I love spending time with my husband, Stephen, and our two children, Maia and Ari. Kids’ sport and activities take up a lot of our weekends. I run regularly with friends, and I enjoy reading novels, particularly historical fiction. If I am in true relaxation mode of an evening, you might find me watching a crime genre movie with a bowl of scorched almonds and old fashioned rum and coke!

  • Thank you Julia