Kia ora and welcome to the first edition of Giving for Good, our quarterly newsletter about philanthropy and charitable giving, with notes of interest from our work in this sector and relevant news and trends from New Zealand and around the world.
When I started working in the philanthropy sector, I quickly identified a pervasive misconception. Perhaps it dates to the days of those titans of early American wealth – names like Vanderbilt, Astor and Carnegie – who were conspicuously benevolent with their riches, or maybe, in current times, our minds reflexively turn to the powerful global foundation established by the world’s wealthiest couple, Bill and Melinda Gates. But I want you to know the truth: philanthropy has nothing to do with wealth or fame. Anyone can be a philanthropist.
This is because it’s not about how much you give but the care and intention with which you do so. Five dollars every month, specifically directed to a single charity or a larger cause for good? That’s philanthropy, just as much as a million-dollar gift to an Ivy League university.
At Perpetual Guardian, we call this everyday philanthropy, and we have spent the past few years creating avenues and vehicles so any New Zealander who wants to can become an everyday philanthropist. A core principle of this philosophy is that people give what they feel they can afford, once they have taken care of their own and their family’s needs. It should never require sacrifice or hardship.
Everyday philanthropy means every bit counts: if we accept that society works as a collective; that local bodies and central government have responsibilities to citizens but cannot do it all; and that our country – its people, environment and culture – can evolve and improve more quickly if everyone does what they can, then everyday philanthropy is a powerful response.
Whether you are an individual who chooses to donate your own money or a charity who wants to dedicate less of your fundraising to administration, and more to your core purpose, the Perpetual Guardian Foundation redefines the Trustee model for Philanthropy. The Foundation’s giving practices are impact focussed. We seek to support social innovation, build effective organisations, and contribute to change either directly as a grant maker, or indirectly as a partner with a charitable organisation who wants to build an endowment to meet the long-term funding of specific projects that may arise as part of a long-term strategy, or meet the immediate and ongoing operational costs of maintaining particular services or facilities.
Why is this an important step forward in New Zealand philanthropy? Because it offers new flexibility and lower costs. Previously, would-be philanthropists could simply make donations to recipient charities, or set up their own charitable trust or foundation. But the latter options typically require at least $500,000 in seed funding, and carry higher legal and long-term management responsibilities as independent entities, unlike The Foundation which invites you to become a part of a community of donors who share the costs. This suits some people and families very well, but a new model for everyday philanthropy serves those who want to give while leaving the cost and responsibility to be borne by independent, informed and trustworthy professionals.
Which brings me to the nuts and bolts of how entities such as The Foundation should work. As the custodian of your philanthropic investment, we work hard to understand and act upon your founding vision whether you prefer a hands-on or committee approach to the management and granting process, or a purely strategic role.
We understand that the desire to give comes from the heart, but the ability to make an ongoing difference comes from sound thinking and careful planning. With more than 130 years of experience in managing private wealth and charitable funds, Perpetual Guardian is a professional Trustee that has established a proud reputation for long-term planning, prudent management and specialist Trust administration. This means that anyone who becomes an everyday philanthropist (individual or institutional) through our Foundation is assured that there is independent management and monitoring – in short, the highest possible standard of care.
Thank you for your interest in our work, and I hope you find much to enlighten and inform you in our first edition. Should you have any feedback on anything you read here, or ideas for upcoming editions, I would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manager, Philanthropy Services