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Expediting the growth of community philanthropy.

A summary of the 2023 Winston Churchill Fellowship Report, for the philanthropy and funding sectors and government in Aotearoa NZ  by Eleanor Cator, Director of Membership Services, CFANZ.  

"Growing community philanthropy is an action, not a concept"

Aotearoa faces great challenges and it’s becoming increasingly evident that the New Zealand government and the existing funding sector cannot address all the current issues of society. New philanthropy, from private individuals and the business sector, must form a part of the solution.

The good news is that we have a major opportunity sitting on our doorstep: the biggest intergenerational wealth transfer the world has ever seen: the baby boomer wealth - estimated to be around $1.25T in Aotearoa New Zealand - and transferring to the next generation over the next 20 years. There is no doubt that, with skill and significant know-how, a percentage of this wealth can be unlocked and steered towards community-led solutions.

However, new philanthropy doesn’t happen by chance, and transformative philanthropy, even less so. There are actions we can take here in New Zealand to enable impactful philanthropy.

These are big ideas. New Zealand cannot continue to blunder along, while this one-time opportunity beckons, and remain passive while other nations are becoming strategic around how they actively steward community wealth.

The big ideas:

Government investment - in capacity building for community foundations, which are young and vastly under resourced in New Zealand, so they can provide well-resourced philanthropy advisory services and the charity infrastructure necessary for everyone to be a philanthropist.

Specialist education for philanthropy advisors (distinct from fundraisers), a research and knowledge base that is not yet available in New Zealand, unlocking individual philanthropic potential and skillfully growing lifetime giving.

Mandating philanthropy education for professional advisors in both tertiary and CPD education - lawyers, accountants, financial advisors - so that they see introductory philanthropy conversations as part of their roles, particularly during the will-making process.

Embedding in government policy that unclaimed funds/dormant assets/inactive trusts be resettled into local community endowment funds, getting these funds actively working for New Zealand.

Reviewing government fiscal incentives - does the current 33% tax back in fact encourage philanthropy? Promote incentives through marketing and PR campaigns (potentially in partnership with ‘Give and get your tax back’ campaigns, already running through local community foundations).

Exploring the potential for fiscal incentives to grow estate gifts to communities - including, in the absence of inheritance taxes, a percentage of matched funding (matched funding has been shown by research² to be more influential than fiscal incentives).

Activating a sector-wide - government and philanthropy funded - generosity and bequest campaign which has been proven overseas to work to grow philanthropy, particularly estate gifts.

We must remain curious to look at other ways to build philanthropy, outside of 20th century big,  endowed institutions, towards more collaborative funding opportunities.

Community foundations have enormous potential to respond to both collaborative giving opportunities and community need, but only if they are well resourced and enabled through a supportive philanthropic ecosystem.

Community foundations need sector partners, in this waka and on this journey, growing community philanthropy for the benefit of our communities, now and into the future.


You can download a fully copy of the report at the Community Foundations of Aotearoa New Zealand website.

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