Philanthropy Around The World: Spotlight On New Zealand

In New Zealand philanthropy falls under an umbrella body: Philanthropy New Zealand. Its members include trusts, foundations, community groups, individuals, investors, local government and even iwi (traditional Maori communities).

A non-profit, independent organisation, Philanthropy New Zealand facilitates collaboration, networking, professional development as well as offering practical guidance to any individual or organisation interested in making any kind of philanthropic contribution which aims to make the world a better place. In addition to facilitating a biennial Philanthropy Summit conference, it also conducts regular research and acts in an advocacy role with government with the ultimate mission of inspiring more and better philanthropy and grant making.

Initially established as the New Zealand Association of Philanthropic Trusts in 1990 by Sir Roy McKenzie, a prolific New Zealand philanthropist and the founder of the country’s first hospice, Te Omanga, the organisation changed its name to Philanthropy New Zealand in 2000. The organisation had just 20 members when it was first established, grew to 60 in 1992 and currently boasts more than 130 members, including not for profit organisations that receive grants.

There has been growing interest in philanthropy in New Zealand in the last 40 years with significant growth in family philanthropy, corporate philanthropy and the emergence of Maori philanthropy. In 2015, according to the most recent survey conducted by Philanthropy New Zealand, total giving in New Zealand amounted to $2.788 billion.

Philanthropy New Zealand works with government to address issues such as changes to tax deductibility on charitable donations. It also plays a major role in bringing funders together and facilitating partnerships between grant makers, particularly in the wake of disasters such as the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and in the aftermath of the Muslim mosque shooting by an extremist in 2019.

The organisation hosts the annual Philanthropy Awards to celebrate outstanding achievement, innovation and leadership in the philanthropic and grant making sector.

According to Christine Korako, chair of the Rātā Foundation, New Zealand’s second largest philanthropic foundations, and a member of Philanthropy New Zealand, a positive outcome of the Christchurch earthquakes was the emergence of stronger collaboration between local and central government, iwi and philanthropic funders. The foundation discovered, post-earthquake, that people are best placed to lead their own recovery and define what will have the most impact for them.

The Rātā Foundation, the South Island’s largest philanthropic funder, not only played an immediate role after the March 2019 mosque shootings, but recognised that it needed to examine its cultural competency in dealing with the Muslim community and listen in order to understand what their needs are.

Philanthropic organisations, says Korako, can play a constructive role as a part of a wider effort to build stronger, more resilient and more inclusive communities after a crisis.

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