Kiwis Give More than $23m despite Economic Challenges and On-going Cost of Living pressures

Second Annual Philanthropy Report

Even with a tightening investment return outlook amid a prolonged economic slump and high inflation, the past year has brought heartening news for the charitable sector. The second annual Perpetual Guardian philanthropy report, released in line with the 2023 Philanthropy New Zealand conference, records total giving for the year to 30 June 2023 as $23.5 million, with key themes for giving being medical research, education, and social services, closely followed by the arts:

  • $11.8 million was stewarded to the health and medical research sector by Perpetual Guardian (representing 50 percent of all funds given).
  • $8.2 million went to social services (34% of funds).
  • $1.5 million was granted for purposes of education (6%).
  • $1.26 million (6%) went to arts, culture, and heritage causes
  • Environment – $0.6M (3%)
  • Other including care and protection of animals – (1%)
  • 2,123 grants were paid out over the 12 months, and grant values spanned a great range, from less than $500 to $667,000 for the highest single grant. The median value was $11,705. 

Perpetual Guardian Group CEO Patrick Gamble says where 2022’s inaugural Perpetual Guardian philanthropy report analysed data from six years of giving, 2023’s report is a snapshot which captures the resilience of the sector in an unpredictable year.

“We have $679 million in charitable funds under management and $849 million of assets under management, and there are certainly headwinds for any investment portfolio in an economic context such as this. That is where we lean on 136 years of history and experience in philanthropic and investment management, in every conceivable environment, to steward our 600-plus charitable trusts into calmer waters. Though the level of granting, at $23.5 million, is very strong, we have on occasion elected to defer some distributions to next year, allowing the Perpetual Guardian Investments team to focus on capital preservation and ensuring stronger conditions for growth.

“The number of grant applications remains high – at over 3,500, this volume is consistent with last year. Against this demand we have made many discretionary grants in line with the specifications of trust deeds and the wishes of our donor clients, and as the data shows, health, social services, and education remain core targets of granting, consistent with long-term trends.

“We do anticipate that as the great wealth transfer intensifies in the coming years and the weight of philanthropic activity shifts out of the hands of baby boomers and into those of Gen X philanthropists, we will see a relative rise in granting to climate or environment and arts causes.”

Perpetual Guardian’s Philanthropy Manager Kirsten Kilian-Taylor says that for grant recipients every dollar is precious, especially in the post-pandemic period. “Though at face value the granting to the arts sector is smaller relative to core sectors such as health, we know from grant applications and recipient feedback that the process stewarded by Perpetual Guardian month after month, year after year still represents a significant funding facility for the people and organisations in the arts and environmental spaces. It is a privilege we do not take lightly to be the conduit between the wishes of our charitable trust settlors and those who work so hard to make those grants count.

“I predict that as we continue to navigate through the ‘great wealth transfer’, we may start to see a shift in the traditional top recipients, perhaps with the environment becoming more of a pressing concern and motivator for our philanthropically-minded younger generations who want to ‘do good’ alongside of ‘doing well’.”

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