Kia ora and welcome to the third edition of Giving for Good.
If this thought-provoking – and somewhat provocative – TED talk by entrepreneur and humanitarian activist Dan Pallotta hasn’t yet crossed your radar and you have a spare 20 minutes, I would urge you to watch it. His main message, that the way we think about charity is dead wrong, challenges many longstanding beliefs and assumptions about charitable giving, and he makes a good case for how the economies of developed nations have evolved to put non-profit organisations at a serious disadvantage.
Then there is his intriguing point about our tendency to confuse morality with frugality, in that we think a charity’s secondary objective, after supporting its cause, should be to keep overheads as low as possible. The examples Pallotta gives are US-based, and the Puritanical origins of charity as a form of penance for the capitalist industry aren’t quite the same here in New Zealand – but we do have a perennial debate over how much charities should spend on running costs versus the primary purpose.
It’s a worthwhile discussion because New Zealand has more registered charities per capita than any other country in the world, and there may be value in consolidation and cost-sharing. But equally, many givers would say there’s no such thing as too much charity. Pallotta’s compelling argument is that activity often dismissed as a costly overhead – namely audience-broadening and awareness-lifting fundraising events – is crucial to growing the pie and making it possible for charities to do far more for their causes over time.
On a related note, we at the Perpetual Guardian Foundation are often asked: How do I know which charity to support? Which organisations are well-run and will do the best with my money?
These are difficult questions for independent givers to answer, but fortunately, answering them is our speciality.
The Foundation’s purpose is to sit at the centre of a network of giving, functioning as a point of access to a vast number of charities and applying our expertise to expand the horizons of philanthropy in New Zealand.
What we like about this approach is that it supports every type of giving Kiwis do, from trusts to private funding to crowdfunding. The Foundation overlays all that charitable energy with a sound framework of critical thinking, local and global research, the removal of bias and the rigorous assessment of risk-weighted by many years of experience and countless relationships in the sector.
Innovation is part of our ethos too because we see no reason why a charitable enterprise should not operate with the same open-minded, boundary-pushing sense of adventure as Apple or Amazon. (It isn’t only tech giants who can change the world.)
Most of all, we intend to be accessible to everyone. Something Dan Pallotta alludes to is that charitable work is often marginalised, while business is seen as the only essential part of the economic fabric. Anyone who works in or supports the giving sector knows this is a fallacy, and the responsibility now sits with those of us in the philanthropy sector to prove the social, economic and humanitarian value of what we do.
Thank you for walking with us, and we hope you enjoy our latest news.
Ngā mihi nui,
Manager, Philanthropy Services