Government’s social wellbeing engagement: insights for funders

December 19, 2018

Longer term contracts, funding the full costs of services, less onerous reporting requirements, flexibility to try new things, and the ability to work with families and whānau more holistically were among the community sector’s key asks of government funders.

The Social Investment Agency (SIA) has just released a summary of feedback from its engagement earlier this year over the Government’s approach to funding social wellbeing and the protection and use of data. SIA got feedback from not for profits, users of their services, and related stakeholders (including government agencies.

Their report, What you told us, categorised the feedback into five key themes:


  1. Establish a different kind of relationship across the sector

  2. Enable locally-led solutions to deliver services that work

  3. Build the skills, experience and capacity of the workforce to implement a wellbeing approach

  4. Ensure data sharing, information and insights are a two-way street for all those involved

  5. Develop funding and contracting models that promote innovative practice.


The findings are relevant to philanthropists and grantmakers given the interdependence of government with philanthropy in achieving societal impact; also because many are relevant to any type of funder.

Much of the feedback will not be new to our members, but reinforces commonly discussed issues. For example, in the area of funding and contracting, work is underway between some of our members and Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA) to undertake research on what a fully-funded NGO community services sector might look like.

In the funding and contracting space, quotes from community groups included:

“We can’t plan and invest in our capability and the services we deliver when we have one-year contracts.”

“Keep it local, build trust, have faith in us and let us prove it by doing. Create an enabling environment rather than a prescribed environment.”

“Community organisations need investment to increase leadership and workforce capacity – and development for increased complexity.”

The report contains a section on Māori perspectives:

“Māori want more equal, and less transactional, relationships with government. Māori are looking for true partnership, to reflect the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Māori said the whakapapa or history of the system needed acknowledgement, and funders need to understand how and why things are the way they are, what has been and is being tried, what has worked and what shows promise. The principle of mana enhancement was important.

“There is no opportunity for mana when we are not asked what we think is right for our tamariki and mokopuna.”

Pacific peoples’ perspectives included a call for funding and contracting models to be strength-based, focussing on how people and communities are flourishing, rather than what is not working.

The findings of SIA’s engagement will now be fed into Government decision making.

You can find SIA’s report and more information on the next steps here.

PNZ members, if you’d like to comment on the report, hop on to the PNZ Members Hub Forum.

Article by: Sue McCabe, Chief Executive of Philanthropy New Zealand