Over a million New Zealanders made donations last year and come the end of the month many of them will claim back a third of what they gave.

Panelists from the “Why Give?” debate being held at Auckland Museum this week say there has been an increase in giving since the rebate threshold was raised in 2008 but New Zealand still needs to develop its culture of philanthropic giving.

Philanthropic giving is an expectation among affluent older generations but Thursday’s panelists have said the same is not always evident in the next generation.

“The same sense of obligation to give back to the community isn’t always apparent.”

“I think in part it is about people being made aware of the breadth of projects and organisations that are out there and that need the funding if they are to continue operating in the way the public expect,” says arts patron and philanthropist Dayle Mace.

“We also need to look at the definition of ‘a philanthropist’. I think people can sometimes dismiss philanthropy as something that relates to the uber wealthy only – the Bill Gates of the world – but there are many different levels of engagement.”

Panelist Sue Gardiner says people have to feel a connection with the organisation or cause to donate.

“Those connections take time to develop and that can be hard in today’s world when people are busy.”

“People also have to feel they are making a difference with their contribution.”

Gretchen Goldwater, of the Goldwater Family Trust which last year partially gifted its Waiheke vineyard to the University of Auckland, says there is a lot of joy in giving.

“Watching the seed you planted continue to grow into something great is very rewarding.”

A report released by Philanthropy New Zealand showed the largest single source of philanthropy in 2011 was personal donations and bequests from individuals.

Personal giving overtook trust and foundation giving as the single largest source of philanthropy. Individuals contributed $1.55 billion in 2011 (58 per cent of total estimated giving) compared to $443m (35 per cent) in 2006.

Mace, who was on the Government’s Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce, says this year Creative New Zealand will launch a three-year pilot project which will mentor arts organisations to attract philanthropic giving in keeping with the taskforce’s recommendations.

“This model has been trialed very successfully elsewhere including in Australia. It is essential that our arts and culture organisations know how to access alternative funding sources – in terms of the economy and policy, everything points to the fact government funding is not going to grow so the gap has to be filled or we will lose things.”

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.


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