Shaping Forces in 2020

January 27, 2020

By Emma Wethey, Policy and Research Manager

Three months into my role at Philanthropy New Zealand (PNZ), I have seen a range of shifts that could influence our sector into 2020.

The settings for charities are changing.  Engagement over the review of the Charities Act 2005 has driven government to carefully consider where to next.  Complex issues have been raised in submissions and community meetings and challenges and opportunities for the sector identified. One is the sustainability and financial viability of charitable organisations in NZ.  This challenge is compounded with the funding gap charities can experience when delivering government contracts and also impacts philanthropic funders who are asked for “top-ups”.

Referenced in the review are also the topics of charities accumulating funds with little distribution and the operation of charitable businesses.  These feature in the tax policy work programme alongside imputation credit refundability that PNZ wants to see happen.

Then there will be an election this year – bets are that this will fall around springtime.  Election issues will start to dominate the policy arena and public spending.  A hot topic will again be the state of New Zealand’s housing.  Last year’s well-being budget investment   in homelessness and commitment to increasing the supply of long-term transitional housing is likely to provide more scope for philanthropists and community providers to get involved.

Also bound to be debated is the impact of the way we live and make a living on our environment.  It is clear that we are already seeing changes in our climate and marine environment in New Zealand and it is disturbing that our country has one of the highest per person rates of greenhouse gas emissions in the industrialised world.  Philanthropists want to do more to respond to the climate crisis and recent research estimates that only around 4% of philanthropic funding currently goes towards environmental causes.  At a global level, 11,000 scientists have shared their top six steps to slow climate change and its impacts.  These would require bold and collective action.

Philanthropic funders and charities continue to play a huge role in supporting child and youth well-being in our country.  With the release of the Child & Youth Well-Being Strategy, the players involved have shown real interest in sharing knowledge and expertise to understand what success looks like, especially across diverse communities and at local and regional levels.

Finally, as the government progresses its focus on building strong, ongoing and effective partnerships with Māori drawing on the guidance of Te Arawhiti, philanthropic funders are also evolving to work differently with Māori to support their aspirations.  It’s therefore likely that 2020 will see fresh thinking in how opportunities are identified and funds delivered.

What stands out for you in the year ahead? I’d love to hear your reflections here.