Community Scoop

Philanthropic Sector Weekly Update 9th April 2020

Press Release – Philanthropy New Zealand

Philanthropy New Zealand is releasing a weekly update to share philanthropic and grantmaking activity and insight as the sector seeks to support communities in the wake of COVID-19. This update is a general public document, provided to Ministers, …

Philanthropy New Zealand is releasing a weekly update to share philanthropic and grantmaking activity and insight as the sector seeks to support communities in the wake of COVID-19. This update is a general public document, provided to Ministers, Government, funders, community groups and media.

Key points for Government

• Philanthropic funders are fielding numerous requests from charities who say they are essential services but have not heard from Government as to any additional funding they are receiving. We welcome all Government attempts to ensure information on what is available and to who is promoted heavily to the community sector. Many funders are doing their best to keep updated and share publicly available information, but they say the uncertainty is impacting their funding decisions.

• Funders are also reporting that some essential service charities they fund who have received additional Government money say the support pales in comparison to the increased demand for services.

• We welcomed Government briefing the philanthropic sector on its activity with food recovery and distribution, and its predictions into demand looking forward. We look forward to engaging with Government on what a future system of food recovery and distribution might look like. Philanthropic funders have and will continue to support this area.

• Our sector is concerned at the digital divide so has welcomed the significant Government support in this space announced this week. We are making this the feature topic at next week’s regular funder meeting, to identify how and where philanthropy might play a role and factor Government activity into funding decisions.

• Given the speed at which Government is announcing relief packages for sectors and demographic groups, funders welcome knowing where Government is considering investing further (for example the upcoming sport package). This is useful for their planning.

Key points for funders

• Some funders have said they’ll review their plans to incorporate learnings from this pandemic into organizational emergency response plans. Ideas discussed include setting up a fund that could be triggered by certain events, having delegated decision-making for modest sized grants, and how to adapt funding strategies during an emergency to meet community need. The importance of existing relationships was noted in a rapid response situation. In coming months, Philanthropy NZ will review its guide to preparing for and responding to a major event against learnings from this pandemic also, in liaison with funders. Read – Readiness, response and recovery – A funders guide.

• Funders engaged with Māori and Pacific communities have highlighted the activity these communities are leading to respond to COVID-19 and encourage funders to listen to the type of help they say they need. The benefits of a community-led approach for all sectors of the community was highlighted, as there is considerable problem solving already occurring within communities.

• Some funders and community groups are already starting to consider what their “recovery” response looks like, as Government signals that they are working on theirs. They are discussing when would be a good time to increase community engagement, which may be interdependent with shifts in Government support.

• Within a month Philanthropy New Zealand will send its members a brief survey to gain a snapshot of how Covid-19 is likely to have impacted their funding and approaches this year.

Key points for the public

• A number of schemes have been established to provide advice to business to navigate the new environment, and charities have registered interest in being able to access a similar type of assistance. However, volunteering services already exist to connect charities needing help with skilled professionals happy to give their time pro bono. We encourage members of the public with time and skills to register their availability with volunteering services (for example volunteer centres or platforms like or More information and lists of connecting services can be found on Skilled volunteering can be contactless and skills transferable from one sector to another.

The philanthropic landscape

Immediate community needs and demand into the medium term 

There is again growing need for food assistance. As an example, last week in Wellington the Compassion Soup Kitchen had doubled its meals to 150 per day. This week Wellington City Mission has reported that the demand for food bags has quadrupled from 80 to 329 per week. Overall, there is an estimated 60% increase in demand across the country and there is a new group of people needing to access help at the same time that supply of food is dropping given outlets are closed and there are less public donations.

Particular concern has been raised for how migrant workers will be supported post the national emergency period. In the Queenstown area, the Mayor Jim Boult has said the town could face a migrant worker “humanitarian crisis” when the Covid-19 lockdown ends. There are more than 2000 workers on short-term visas who have registered with the council for welfare assistance since March 25.

With the start of school term next week, a range of players are focused on how to enable increased digital access for all learners across New Zealand. A 2019 report by Motu Research indicated that the most digitally disadvantaged people included those living in social housing, or with disabilities,  unemployed, people living in rural areas, and seniors. Māori and Pacific people were likely to be disproportionately impacted by a lack of access.

The Government has prepared a distance learning education package with the promise that every learner in New Zealand will have at least one way to access education, even if they do not have a device or an internet connection at home.

Other national and regional businesses are also supporting distance learning to happen. In Taitokerau for example, Northpower Fibre has waived monthly wholesale connection charges for 842 student households in Northland. This means online education will be more accessible for students that may not have had broadband during the lockdown period.

As the weather cools, household heating will likely become more of an issue for low-income families and power bills are likely to be higher than usual with family members home for most of the day during lockdown.

More resources are now available to support people’s mental health during lockdown via the Getting Through Together campaign. A tool for parents and their primary school aged children called “Sparklers at Home” has been developed by All Right in partnership with the Canterbury DHB and the Mental Health Foundation.

Further to updates that charities with fundraising appeals and high numbers of volunteers are additionally impacted over the lockdown period, so too are those that generate income from charity shops. Hospice Waikato for example are forecasting a deficit of $1.2 million for the financial year yet the demands for their palliative care services given regional growth and New Zealand’s aging population is high.

For regular updates on the social impacts of the pandemic on New Zealand’s poorest and most vulnerable families, The Salvation Army have just released an Impact Dashboard that will track outcomes fortnightly.

Emergency and Rapid Response Funding

Philanthropy New Zealand held a meeting for local government funders this week. A common theme was that staff are spending considerable time on the emergency response and for many Councils decisions are yet to be made by elected officials on community funding going forward. 

New ways of working and rapid decision-making is becoming more of a feature in the response of funders under lockdown. This week Foundation North paid out $2million in grants. They have confirmed that they are in a position to continue granting. Their Quick Response Grants and Community Grants are already pathways to get support for community need, including those related to COVID-19. Foundation North have also released an allocation of funds to ensure they can respond to organisations that are supporting people, whānau and communities impacted by COVID-19.

Multi-sector collaboration continues. This week, UNICEF NZ and The Salvation Army announced a partnership with Countdown to reach hundreds of vulnerable New Zealand families with urgent food and hygiene supplies. This is the first time that UNICEF NZ have launched an emergency appeal within New Zealand.

Meanwhile in a regional collaboration, the Waikato Funders Community Funders Group have granted $1 million of $3.2 million committed to the COVID-19 response.

Forward spend for 2020

The picture of the impact of the economic decline on philanthropic funds continues to emerge as trustees meet to consider the impact. Philanthropy New Zealand will survey members in a few weeks time when more decisions have been made, to get a better snapshot. 

In the news this week, TSB Community Trust has made the decision to continue funding as usual despite not receiving funds from bank dividends until further notice as per the Reserve Bank directive. This will involve use of their reserves and the shortfall is expected to be around $7.5 million.

Central Lakes Trust in the South Island who are the owners of Pioneer Energy will be increasing their grant budget in 2020/21 to $9.4million to support charitable organisations. As part of their emergency management response they have also granted the two Councils in their region $50,000 to support their communities.

The Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand has confirmed that as Gaming Societies are not collecting revenue and do not carry reserves, they not in a position to distribute funds. They are not allowed to carry reserves. Applications for funds have therefore been suspended. If however organisations have an application that was being processed from the previous funding round, or have received funds for an event that is no longer taking place, they can contact the Gaming Society who will be empathetic and pragmatic with their response given the unusual circumstances. The

Association has also forecast that there will be a lag between alert levels enabling gaming to resume, and funds accumulated being distributed.

Government packages this week

Government has announced a $17 million package to support New Zealand’s Pacific communities in the fight against coronavirus. This will support Pacific health and disability services facing increased demand, and will help ramp up public health messaging and guidance about the virus in Pacific languages.

This follows the recent announcement that $56 million will be spent on a specific Māori response action plan which will see $30m allocated to Māori Health services and a further $15m to Whānau Ora commissioning agencies to support vulnerable whanau.

At the close of last week, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced that the Government would provide immediate relief to sports organisations struggling to stay afloat during the sporting lockdown. This includes rolling over funding from the current financial year to the next for national sports organisations. Further details of the package (which includes community level sport) are yet to be announced. It has been noted that significant income has been lost through broadcasting rights and sponsorship deals as well as lack of income from sports betting, class four gaming and membership fees.

Further clarification of which aspects of essential services will be bolstered through Government investment (with $16m set aside) and email addresses if you need to seek further information can be found here.

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