Giving Tuesday 2019 is a good time to look at how our generosity is changing

November 28, 2019

By Sue McCabe, Chief Executive of Philanthropy New Zealand

Giving Tuesday, on December 3, is a global day that celebrates generosity. Kiwis are good at giving. A Charities Aid Foundation assessment of global generosity released in October showed New Zealand was the only country to feature in the top ten every year for the past decade for: helping a stranger; donating money; and volunteering time.

Giving is dynamic. It reflects societal change in every possible way – including evolution in the needs of recipients, as well as the preferences of givers. For example, people are more time poor so volunteering statistics show a decline in the hours people volunteer, with a tendency to seek out project-based rather than ongoing volunteering assignments.

The causes people care about are changing. While a major concern remains inequality, growing awareness of climate change means an increased focus on giving to mitigate environmental damage.

We’re seeing this trend within our membership. Philanthropy New Zealand research shows a low percentage of philanthropic funding went to environmental causes in the 2017/2018 year. However, we know of new initiatives since then that are increasing funding to the environment, highlighting the responsiveness of philanthropy and grant-making. This research only looked at organisational giving (eg by foundations and trusts), and we could expect individual donations to be even more agile.

JBWere released some research on giving earlier this year. It highlighted the trend that fewer people are donating money to charity, but they’re giving larger amounts.

Another significant change is that there are more ways to give. Charities are no longer the only outlet for generosity. Crowdfunding platforms have seen more public donations flow to individuals or social enterprise businesses.

People may feel that they’re giving when they choose to do business with a social enterprise, rather than a solely profit-focussed company. In addition to social procurement of goods and services, people and organisations are looking beyond responsible investment to impact investment. In impact investment, people seek both a social and financial return on capital.

A change in giving is predicted to occur when the looming intergenerational transfer of wealth occurs within philanthropic families. The younger generations are expected to implement generosity differently in terms of how they give and who to.

While individual and organised givers continue to fund groups doing amazing work to support existing community needs, there’s a strong trend of funder collaboration focussed on changing the systems that cause inequalities, to prevent future need. More funders are wanting to fund the fence at the top of the cliff, in addition to those that fund the ambulance at the bottom.

This is a smattering of some of the giving trends we see in this generous country of ours.

While the giving area will continue to be dynamic, one fundamental will remain unchanged whether its Giving Tuesday in 2019, or 2039. This is that there are a million different ways to give that make life a little brighter for someone else, and New Zealand a better place for all.

On this Giving Tuesday, let’s celebrate people who donate to causes they believe in, who help those around them, and who volunteer for charities they know do important work in our communities.