English attends CF meeting

Finance heavyweight . . . Former Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Fight for Life boxer Sir Bill English is patron of the Clutha Foundation. PHOTO: NICK BROOK


The Clutha Foundation Charitable Trust (CF) held its annual public meeting last Wednesday, August 31, with guest speakers including National finance expert and former Clutha›Southland MP Sir Bill English.

The meeting at Balclutha’s Rosebank Lodge opened with input from two organisations already spreading the benefits of the foundation.

Lee›Anne Michelle of Clutha Budget Advisory Service explained how CF enabled the Happy Feet programme to apply immediate, practical change by providing high› quality children’s school shoes for families under financial pressure.

South Otago principal Mike Wright spoke on behalf of Big River Kahui Ako’s Hearing You programme, where a mobile counsellor supported pupils at 13 schools throughout the district.

Chairman of Community Foundations New Zealand Ray Key spoke broadly on the future of trusts like CF and how their expertly managed investments combined with local expertise to identify and provide funding.

‘‘When we die, everything and every cent we own will be given away,’’ Mr Key said.

‘‘People are learning if they can give a portion of that to community foundations, it will continue to benefit their whole community in perpetuity.’’

While this would make such foundations independent of ‘‘Wellington’’, their authority would be ample to leverage further funds input from central sources when needed, he said.

CF patron and former prime minister Bill English explained how his experience allocating government resources informed the founding of his consultancy firm Impact Lab, which helped optimise charitable organisations.

‘‘Government is good at doing big, dumb stuff — basics like health and education that work well enough for about 85% of the population,’’ Mr English said.

‘‘But roughly half of government spending goes to trying to help that remaining 15% who have more complicated and specialised needs.’’

Mr English believed the emerging and growing community foundations were the experts at the front lines, whose personal acquaintance with local needs ensured funds for specialised needs were used for maximum benefit.

The CF has existed for four years and trustee chair Bill Thompson said innovative appeals for local generosity had already boosted its funds to a total of $550,000.

Income generated from the invested amount were what gave CF its funding power.

‘‘With ‘Give a Little’, anybody can direct›debit donate the price of a cup of coffee on payday.

‘‘Bequests to the foundation from wills can be named and specified to exact causes — sports, health, scholarships — and by joining the invested funds those bequests will continue giving forever,’’ Mr Thomson said.

About 40 CF trustees, guests and interested members of the public attended the evening meeting and supper.