Giving something back

Autumn 2023 Edition

We’re a generous bunch. According to the CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) World Giving Index, New Zealand is the world’s third most generous country, behind the USA and Indonesia. But while that’s a terrific achievement on anyone’s terms, not-for-profit organisations are facing big challenges. 

Factors such as the rising cost of living, high housing costs, and prolonged inflation mean that many New Zealanders are struggling to donate as often, or as much, as they would like to. At the same time, the global pandemic and its after-effects have placed additional demands on the not-for-profit sector to deliver a range of services – while causing the cancellation of many regular fundraising events and activities. 

That’s the bad news. 

The good news is that Kiwis with money to invest are increasingly bridging the gap and showing a growing interest in philanthropy. What’s more, they’re bringing a fresh perspective and innovative approach to tackling environmental, educational, medical, and social problems. The traditional way of thinking about philanthropy as purely financial is shifting.  

Why give?

There are many reasons people engage in philanthropy. Some have been brought up to believe in the importance of contributing to society. For others, it can be the result of life events – for example, the loss of a loved one to a disease like cancer, or coming into money through an inheritance or the sale of a business. For many, a strong sense of community spirit impels them to give back. Your ‘why’ is unique to you and will serve as your guide when deciding which cause to give to. 

Choosing between worthy causes

According to the Charities Services website, New Zealand has over 28,000 registered charities. So how does an aspiring donor determine which causes to donate their money – and possibly also their time and expertise – to?  

Obviously, it depends on your own interests, experiences, and passions – but doing your homework is key. Philanthropy New Zealand suggest asking yourself the following questions before you leap in:

  • What issues do you feel strongly about, and what causes do you want to support?
  • How much of your income do you want to give? Many people recommend between 1% and 5% of your total household income, but it depends on your situation and it’s entirely up to you.
  • How effective are the organisations you are considering supporting? For example, how much of their income goes towards administration and overheads, as opposed to service delivery? Are you able to track outcomes so you can see where your money is going? You can find information to help you decide this in the annual reports all registered charities must make to Charities Services on their website.

Ways to give

Typically, those who give want to know their efforts will result in a meaningful and lasting contribution. For that to happen, the key is to understand where and how to focus those efforts – which is why is it’s important to know that philanthropy isn’t just about giving money. Many are increasingly using their professional skills and networks to help make a difference on a broader scale. The five ‘Ts’ can be a useful guide to help decide the best way to donate for you:


There are many different ways to contribute financially, both in the short- and long-term. For example, you could make a one-off cash donation, set up a regular online banking donation, leave money to a charity in your will, or use an online fundraising platform such as Givealittle.


Kiwis contribute around 159 million hours of formal volunteer labour each year, according to the Volunteering New Zealand website – an estimated value of $4b. Could you donate your time to volunteer for a cause you care about? Some employers allow employees to take time off to do just that.


As well as your time, think about whether you could apply your specialist skills, expertise, or experience to a worthy cause. Many lawyers, for example, work a certain amount of hours pro bono for clients in need.


Can you leverage your personal and/or business networks to make a collective difference? By joining forces, you might be able to achieve a bigger and better result than what you could on your own.


Look for opportunities to spread the word about causes you’re involved with or passionate about. Media can be expensive for non-profit organisations, but word of mouth is free.

If you’re thinking about contributing financially, adding a few more ‘Ts’ to the mix could help your giving go even further. 

Payroll giving

An increasingly popular option for those earning a salary or wages is payroll giving, if your employer supports it. 

The ANZ Staff Foundation is one of the leading examples of payroll giving in New Zealand. Around 2,000 ANZ staff are members, and make regular contributions from their after-tax salary or wages. ANZ contributes $2 for every $1 contributed by staff. The Foundation is a charitable trust and twice a year the board (made up of ANZ staff members) meets to allocate funds across a range of community and charitable organisations. 

So far, the ANZ Staff Foundation has distributed over $8 million in community grants to more than 920 charities and community projects nationwide. 

Where to start

When deciding on a worthy cause, it’s a good idea to seek advice from people in your network who have a history of giving. Other useful sources of information include Philanthropy New Zealand and Charities Services.  

Chat to your accountant, financial adviser, and lawyer before making any major donations. Among other things, they’ll be able to explain the tax implications of different types of charitable contributions, and how they fit with your longer-term goals and aspirations. 

It’s also wise to consider who’s ultimately going to be in the driver’s seat, so you can plan ahead. Will you alone manage and lead your philanthropy? Or will it be you and your spouse or partner, your extended family, or someone you nominate? This might change how you give and who you decide to give to. 

At ANZ Private, we’ve helped many clients looking to use their resources for philanthropic purposes. Our scale means we can often introduce clients to organisations that are aligned with their personal values, in areas they may be passionate about. For more information about how we might be able to help, reach out to your Private Banker.