Inbox: Rigorous philanthropy

Philanthropy is big business but some questionable management and even complaints of fraud are affecting the reputation of the whole sector.
Philanthropist Dame Rosanne Meo is urging those involved in the charity and charitable trust sector to promote philanthropy and address the sector’s problems. Poor-quality applications for distributions and cases of fraudulent fundraising are evidence, she says, of the need for more rigour in philanthropic leadership.
New Zealanders are the second-largest per capita givers in the world, after the US. According to the BERL report, in 2011 there was $2.67 billion worth of giving in New Zealand. Guardian Trust manages 462 charitable trusts, with total funds under management or administration of nearly $600 million, and in 2011 distributed NZ$45 million from charitable trusts in Australia and New Zealand.
Dame Rosanne addressed recent Guardian Trust event, where she said that applications for trust distributions are not as rigorous as they should be.“Some trusts put lot of energy into managing their financial performance, and rightly so. However, we frequently observe that grant applicants and recipient organisations don’t take the trouble to understand what individual trusts are about.
“It’s important that we as leaders bring more rigour to the whole sector. I was shocked to read recently of yet another small charity being referred to the Serious Fraud Office. These kinds of cases reflect lack of thoroughness and erode trust.”
Dame Rosanne says number of improvements can be made by those working in the sector.
“Importantly, we can encourage people to only deal with charitable organisations that are rigorous in their work. In what I do with the ASB Trust and Auckland Philharmonia, we work extremely hard to ensure that we are top of class in submissions and applications for any charitable grants.
“By supporting those who operate responsibly and demand the same strictness of approach from their partners, contributors and applicants, the reputation and operation of the whole sector will be enhanced.” M

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