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Those reflections embody the philosophy that has evolved during Trevor’s 12 years as Manager. Much about organisational culture is revealed during times of change, as is happening now with Trevor’s decision to move into a new role as Special Projects Manager from March 2014, and the appointment of John McCarthy as our new Manager.
John anticipated no need for any rethink, but felt he naturally brings a slightly different orientation to the Manager role. “Trevor has an environmental background that I don’t have and he’s a heartland person, while I have experience from the social services sector and am more of a city person,” he observed.
Close cooperation between the Manager and a supportive core of Trustees has been a hallmark of Trevor’s tenure. And in recent years, interchange with the broader philanthropic community has enabled us to be more proactive in what outcomes are sought, and in assessing how an applicant group can deliver.
Being committed long term, but having enough flexibility to act in emergencies, is central to our way of working. That was evident in our rapid response to the Canterbury Earthquakes. “Because of our small number of trustees, decisions were made very quickly, and it didn’t distract from business as usual,” said Trevor. Added John: “Our modus operandi includes crisis response.”
Following a contribution of $500,000 immediately after the 4 September 2010 quake, we mobilised groups of Funding Managers and other philanthropists, quickly prepared a strategy paper that used a model of the Victorian bushfires, and teased out a five-year strategy with a dedicated fund. Among the strategy insights was the need “to care for the carers” —recognising and supporting relief workers who were themselves affected.
Experience from Christchurch will serve the charitable community in the case of future disasters. We recognise the value that private foundations can add as a catalyst for action where other agencies and government are more bound by bureaucratic processes—as when we encouraged others to support the Prime Minister’s Earthquake Appeal Trust.
Catalysing social change at The Tindall Foundation involves taking responsibility for results, mobilising a campaign for change, using all available tools and creating actionable knowledge. The path laid by Trevor Gray will guide our actions going forward, as John McCarthy leads the team in striving for a better New Zealand.
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