I was amazed to learn that there are just over 2100 registered charities in Christchurch. On top of that, there will be many, many other causes that most of us don’t even know about unless they have touched us in our private lives.
The problem is, if you are wanting to gift some money to a cause, how do you know which ones are legit and which ones might not be quite as robust in their operations and governance? It’s an often voiced concern from individuals and organisations looking to donate often significant amounts of money.
This is where I want to put in an unashamed plug for The Christchurch Foundation. We’ve been going a year now and have raised just short of $4 million – the first $2.5 million was recently gifted to Tūranga, the new central library, by TSB, Spark and Southbase.
Our job is to help individuals and businesses to identify causes to which they want to gift money and to help with due diligence.
We broker win-win relationships between those who give and those who receive. The foundation isn’t cause led; we support donors and their aspirations for the city – be it a community facility such as Tūranga or an organisation supporting women’s health.
People don’t give directly to the foundation, they give through it.
Communities, charities and projects are the benefactors of the new Christchurch City Foundation, set up a year ago to positively impact the city. We catch up with Head of the Christchurch Foundation Amy Carter to discuss the philanthropy driving this positive outcome.
How did the Christchurch Foundation story begin?
The initial concept came as a legacy of the 2010/11 earthquakes. There were so many generous people living overseas or in other parts of New Zealand who gave to the Prime Minister’s and the Mayor’s funds. It showed us that even though people no longer live in Christchurch, their hearts often still do. This means that they probably have dreams for the city and the causes within it, so we’ve built something to help them achieve these dreams.
What is the key mission and how does it do this?
Our core focus is to make it easier for people to give to the causes within Christchurch that they care about. We are a donor-led organisation rather than cause-led. That means that we act on behalf of the generous person or business who wants to give, matching them to causes that share their ethics, values and desired outcomes. You don’t give to The Christchurch Foundation itself.
We make it easy by offering a range of ways through which to give. This could mean a gift through a will/bequest, payroll giving or a mixture of cash lump sums, goods and services. The Christchurch Foundation undertakes the due diligence on the cause so that donors can have confidence the money given will end up being invested in the way in which they want.
We are also in the process of becoming a registered charity in locations where our generous people and businesses pay tax. There is a significant focus on helping people overseas to give here. A cause can be a charity, social enterprise, a community event or asset. This is decided by the person or business giving.
From time to time, the foundation will also invest in programmes or projects identified in the city as important. For example, we recently announced that we are establishing a women’s fund. Christchurch has a proud history of women and girls making change both here and globally. We thought that it was part of our city that needed to be celebrated and we have set up the fund to continue to support women and girls making change at a grassroots level within the city.
We have also recently hosted our inaugural Thinker in Residence. KPMG partnered with us to bring a global leader, Hila Oren, to our city. This is an annual programme and we are already working to select the 2019 Thinker.
Why are you so passionate about the work of the foundation?
It is really exciting to be hands on developing an entity that will have a sustained positive impact on Christchurch. I have big aspirations for our city, as do many others. In this role, I get to help make those dreams come true.
Irecently had the pleasure of attending a presentation from four millennials talking about social enterprises here in Christchurch. The future leaders were excited to share their findings with the baby boomers and gen Xers. After all, in their minds, social enterprise is a relatively new concept, largely driven by their generation.
Those of us with laughter lines and natural ‘highlights’ in our hair openly questioned if it was a new concept, or just the re-labeling of an existing model?
Currently there is no nationally agreed legal definition of what a social enterprise is. The Akina Foundation, the Government-funded entity charged with growing social enterprise, defines them as purpose-driven originations that trade to deliver social and environmental impact. Akina also references that they use commercial methods to be financially self-sustained.
Based on that definition, I’m sure we could all draft a list, including many larger long-established charities, that have developed commercial products to underwrite the social or environmental services they deliver.
Christchurch has been informally recognised as a hotspot for social enterprise since the 2010/11 earthquakes. Last year we hosted the Social Enterprise World Forum because of this.
I have certainly seen an increase in entities popping up that want to make a difference, largely driven by impressive younger talent. However, our own Kilmarnock Enterprises was established in 1958.
I don’t believe social enterprise is a new concept. What we call it is largely immaterial; what is important is the amazing work they do and what can be achieved by taking this approach.
New Zealand was recently named as the most prosperous country in the world by The Legatum Institute. The London based think tank has recently released its annual global Prosperity Index for 2018, a huge survey that ranks the most prosperous nations.
New Zealand now outranks Finland – a country we are often highlighted as performing poorly against. Since the index was first founded in 2007, our lowest place was fourth and we have taken out the top spot seven times.
Given recent newspaper headlines outlining our childhood poverty statistics, the housing crisis and rivers we can’t swim in, this came as a surprise to me. So, I did a little more research and thinking on this topic.
The Legatum Institute doesn’t view prosperity as being just the amount of money that a country has. It compared 104 variables in developing the rankings, including personal freedom, natural environment and social capital.
Further reading of their website provides more detail. It’s well worth a look – just visit ind.pn/2Ex2S0j.
When reviewing these results, it seems to me that all of us have a role to play to ensure that our collective prosperity is spread more evenly. We are doing ok, but we can do better.
Smart central government policy and investment are obviously key, but these wheels take time to turn. In contrast, a nimble, grassroots-engaged, fact-based charity or social enterprise can make an impact quickly, if it is well supported.
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