From the CE: rebooting grantmaking in Aotearoa New Zealand

September 7, 2017

Do we make things harder for the organisations we support? As funders does our focus on ‘projects’ make it more difficult for the community sector to be sustainable? This Stanford Social Innovation Review article Time to Reboot Grantmaking is on point with its call for funding of infrastructure as well as projects.

The redesign of grantmaking practice is a work in progress. It’s part of an agenda of continuous improvement that Philanthropy New Zealand sees as one of the great hallmarks of the sector. As an example, we are delighted to be supporting several initiatives that will help:

  • reduce ‘red-tape’ for applicants
  • avoid some of the grantseeking practices our sector may have unwittingly contributed to (‘always apply for more than you want, because we know we’ll get less than we ask for’)
  • fund organisational infrastructure because that’s essential for effective programme delivery
  • recognise that part-funding is often worse than not funding at all.

In Wellington, the Funders’ Network is working on ways to streamline application, due diligence, and reporting processes. We’re focussing on questions like: what do we really need to know about applicant organisations? Could we centralise our processes to avoid applicants having to submit the same (or slightly different) information to multiple funders? What are the values that we share and underpin our work? How could we reduce our reporting requirements to better match the size of grants?

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is following up the consultations some of us attended with Minister of the Community and Voluntary Sector earlier this year. While some of this will include a focus on improvements DIA can make to their statutory grantmaking, this work will be most powerful if we can galvanise support from across philanthropy.

Predator Free NZ is convening a ‘Transforming Community Conservation Funding’ workshop. PNZ will be facilitating this high-level group of funders, peak bodies and community groups as they act on what the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has identified as sustainability challenges for the many small conservation groups in Aotearoa New Zealand and their funders. These challenges include: the time and effort involved in seeking and reporting on funds, duplication and lack of co-ordination, and unrealistic expectations that projects will become self-funding over time.

Philanthropy New Zealand wants to join as many funders as possible into these conversations. We will continue to share progress and results.