Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Giving NZ report - what it means for non profits



Author: Jenna Ash 

New Zealanders are ranked the third most generous nation in the world by the Charities Aid Foundation – a fantastic accolade and, with our Aussie friends coming in fifth, one could surmise that it’s pretty great being a fundraiser in this part of the world.

Philanthropy New Zealand’s latest Giving New Zealand, Philanthropic Funding 2014 report was released last week, providing the latest facts and figures on philanthropic giving by individuals, trusts and foundations, and business in New Zealand.

The report, published every three years, provides some great insights into the amount and pattern of philanthropy in this country, and there are some interesting trends to take note of…

The key measures from the report are:

     - Overall philanthropic giving in 2014 is on par with 2011 levels ($2.788B in 2014 as compared with $2.789B in 2011). Giving in response to the Christchurch earthquakes is believed to have significantly boosted 2011 levels, to more than twice 2006’s figures ($1.27B), and while there was a significant event that prompted the 2011 figures, it appears New Zealanders have continued to maintain the same level of generosity.

     - The top three activities supported by giving during 2014 were culture and recreation; education; and social services. 

Personal givinggiving 

Personal giving has overall decreased by 1% since 2011. This is comprised by a decrease in personal donations by 4%, and an increase in giving in the form of bequests by 29%. 

Giving by trusts and foundations 

Overall, giving by trusts and foundations has increased by 3% since 2011. However, with statutory trusts (trusts and foundations with an explicit statutory or legal imperative to give) representing 77% of the trust and foundation giving, a 6% increase in giving by such trusts has veiled the fact that there was a 4% decrease in giving by voluntary trusts and foundations. 

The increase in giving by statutory trusts has been largely explained by the reinstatement of the Lottery Grants Board $30m Significant Projects Fund, and increased giving by energy trusts. There is debate about whether giving by energy trusts to their customers in the form of dividends or discounts should be included as a ‘philanthropic’ act, however it has been for the purposes of this year’s report.

Charitable family and individual trusts have seen a shift in the causes they give to, with an increased focus on health and medical research (~26% up 8% from 2011) and a decrease in giving to culture and recreation activities, down from ~31% in 2011 to ~11% in 2014. Social services activities were the other key recipient of family and individual trusts (20% in 2014).

Community Trusts, including Foundation North and the Rātā Foundation, primarily support culture and recreational activities as well as social services, with ~44% and ~41% of their grants going to those two activities respectively. Community Trusts also tended to support very local activities.

Licensing trusts have decreased their grant-making to $3M in 2014 from $3.7M in 2011.

Business and corporate giving

Business and corporate giving fell by 22% since 2011. This has been attributed largely to giving by businesses following the Christchurch earthquakes.

What does this mean for non profits?

While New Zealander’s have maintained their 2011 levels of giving, the fact is that there is more competition for the pot. Currently there are 27,322 registered charities in New Zealand, which is 468 more than in the 2011/12 year.

Coupled with a decrease in giving by voluntary trusts, and the fact that the overall increase in statutory trust giving can be explained by grants that are not applicable to many non profits, it is more important than ever that non profits apply a strategic approach to their grant-seeking activities.

It is a good reminder that non profits should be identifying and building relationships with funders that have a strategic fit with their mission.

The report found that funding decisions of community trusts have evolved over the past few years, with a lean towards larger, multi-year projects. This is in line with what we are seeing across the sector with an increased focus on creating deep social impact.

Grant makers of all types are looking for evidence of strategic vision, and an outcomes based approach to service delivery. It is important for grant-seekers to be working in this way.

Yes, we are a generous lot. But in the increasingly competitive environment, don’t just rely on generosity; be proactive, strategic, and you will have great grants success!

You can download a copy of the Giving New Zealand report here.