The changing face of philanthropic governance

March 25, 2021


By Sue McCabe, Chief Executive, Philanthropy New Zealand.

It’s a time of challenge and opportunity for philanthropic governance as the pace of change accelerates and the calls for funders to work differently increase.

Governance has been dealing with some of the change for decades – like technological, political, legal and social change. Added to that is the urgency of climate change, and the rise in global movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo that highlight growing intolerance for inequity.

The disruption of Covid has had huge impacts on community need, Government activity, financial markets, staff wellbeing and the relevance of our organisational strategies.

The world is more volatile, uncertain and integrated. As well as challenges, this presents opportunities for the agile and prepared. There are louder calls for funders to work differently, and for governance to steer this change.

Again, for decades funders have been grappling with reducing inequality, supporting Māori aspiration, make funding easier to access, and how to acknowledge the power of money.

In addition, now there is the need for governance to examine the role of their organisation in a world where collaboration is essential if an organisation is to make meaningful change by. It needs to look at its environmental footprint, what its capital is supporting or achieving beyond revenue, its procurement and the size of its carbon footprint.

The Philanthropy Summit 2021 with its theme of amplifying community aspiration has been designed to support trustees with the world they face. It offers governance specific workshops, as well as general sessions on hot topics. The summit runs over three short days and has the following daily subthemes:

·  Amplifying impact – Te whakarahinga panga: how funders contribute beyond money

· Reimagining communities – Te whai whakaaro anō ki ngā hapori: supporting sustainable and inclusive communities

· Aspiring together – Te wawata ngātahi: the system supports needed for great giving and hot topics in 2021

Given the online nature of the summit, trustees will be able to access the wealth of information well after the event. We’ve heard that some boards are planning to view particular sessions in their meetings to support group discussion on relevant topics.

The summit will kick off on May 18th with a keynote panel that looks at what philanthropists and grantmakers are offering their communities beyond their core purpose of funding.

The first workshop stream features philanthropic trustees Vodafone NZ Foundation Chair Juliet Jones, Next Foundation Director Scott St John, and Central Lakes Trust Trustee Cath Gilmour. They will talk about governing beyond solely grantmaking. There’s also a workshop in this slot discussing PNZ research currently underway into philanthropic impact investing.

This will be followed up by an keynote likely to be both challenging and inspiring from Daniel Growald (Co-Chair of BankFWD) and Valerie Rockefeller (Co-Chair of BankFWD and Board Chair of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund). They are fifth generation members of the Rockefeller family who have launched BankFWD. Its purpose is to persuade major banks to end fossil fuel financing. The keynote is made possible by our partnership with NEXUS New Zealand & Pasifika.

The morning of May 19th presents a unique opportunity to think about your strategy, capability and activity to build relationships with tangata whenua and more effectively fund Māori aspiration. We have keynote speakers Jamie Tuuta and Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand discussing how Aotearoa can achieve taurite (balance) reflecting its bicultural foundation.

This is followed by four workshops looking at Te Tiriti of Waitangi; understanding the basics of the Māori worldview; practical ways to fund Māori aspiration and a specific workshop for philanthropic and grantmaking trustees. We recommend you attend one live and watch the others later for great professional development in this important area.

In the afternoon community voices will give funders insight into their worlds and what funders can do to support their aspirations. This will provide powerful insight of different lived experiences to our own, which will support equitable funding decisions.

And on day three on May 20th we look at system issues and hot topics. We’ve a session on governance trends, and many governors will be interested in workshops on preparing to fund the next big event that hits Aotearoa; support for their climate change thinking; and the role of data in decision making.

This summit is the biggest biennial opportunity for trustees, management and staff to learn and discuss the biggest challenges and opportunities. While this year it misses the face-to-face element (with the exception of day one viewing parties) we are taking advantage of the opportunities that an online conference presents. A major upside for time-pressured trustees will be watching the topics of interest either in their Board meeting, or at a time of their own choosing, as well as the option to participate live.

For more information check out the Philanthropy Summit 2021 website. Early-bird pricing ends 7 April!.