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$591,778 DISTRIBUTED TO COMMUNITIES IN 2020
$7,934,453 TOTAL DISTRIBUTED TO COMMUNITIES

Giving back: an immensely rewarding journey.

Photo supplied by previous Grassroots Giving grant recipients, Bhartiya Samaj, from one of their Auckland camps for South Asian youth.

It is a common misapprehension that philanthropic giving is only useful if it is large in scale and amount and that the small donor cannot really make a difference.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Many organisations right across the philanthropic spectrum comprise large numbers of volunteers who only need relatively small amounts to enable them to do amazing work.

Whether it is in violence prevention, refugee assistance, literacy programmes, drop-in community centres for at-risk youth, or many other local causes, the vital work of addressing social and human needs depends on community support. This is real front-line stuff where every dollar is used extremely effectively by countless unsung heroes as they go about their work.

I have first-hand experience of this through my involvement with Auckland Foundation’s Grassroots Giving Programme, which seeks to direct small amounts to local community groups helping to build an inclusive society by plugging gaps in support for those who are struggling. Usually the amounts required are quite modest but facilitate very positive outcomes.

Auckland Foundation’s unique model enables individuals or families to start a philanthropic journey by donating regularly into a separate sub fund in their name which can be applied to causes the donors find compelling.

Over time their funds build up to the point where some significant good can be done on a regular basis. It is important, in my view, that donors remain connected to their chosen causes and hear about the success of the programmes they have helped to fund because stories about the outcomes achieved can be tremendously inspiring and uplifting.

Seeing a number of small successes at an individual level can give us hope when the issues around us often seem rather overwhelming.

Most philanthropic experiences begin with small donations motivated by a desire to make an unfair world a better place.

It has been said that from small acorns great oaks grow, and we should never underestimate the power of a small gift to change lives. I promise you it will be an immensely rewarding journey.

Ken Whitney

Practicing as a lawyer for over 30 years, Ken has deep experience of both large and small philanthropic trust governance. A Trustee of Foundation North for 8 years and Chair for 6 years, he is currently Chair of Philanthropy New Zealand, and a Trustee of Auckland Foundation, the Auckland Health Foundation and the Chisholm Whitney Charitable Trust.


Auckland Foundation enables impactful giving by generous Aucklanders. If you'd like to plan and shape your giving, we'd love to connect with you.