The Sunrise Foundation was recently visited by fundraising and philanthropic superstar Liz Palmieri.

Liz was the first executive director of the Niagara Community Foundation in Canada from 2000 to 2016. Under her leadership Niagara Foundation grew from endowment funds of $200,000 to almost $50 million and granted over $8 million to charities in the Niagara region.

Glenda Stokes, Sunrise Executive Officer, says Liz’s visit was inspirational and gave her great hope that they can achieve their aspiration to grow Sunrise into a significant asset for the community. “Liz had great ideas, she’s been there and done that. We can learn from her mistakes, and her successes, to help us to grow Sunrise’s endowments and therefore the grants we can provide to needy causes in our region.”

Liz was invited to attend the Community Foundations of NZ (CFNZ) Annual Conference in Wellington last September where she led a number of valuable workshops. She was subsequently invited back to work individually with the growing number of community foundations in New Zealand, including Sunrise.

Although relatively new to New Zealand, community foundations are the fastest growing charitable organisations in the world and have been operating for over 100 years in North America. They first started in Canada in 1921 and have helped millions of Canadians invest in building stronger, resilient and more equitable local communities.

Colin Christie, Sunrise deputy chair and CFNZ board member, says Sunrise was fortunate to have Liz share her wealth of knowledge and experience with them.

“Niagara is a small community reliant on agriculture and tourism. They have lost a lot of their large industries and have high unemployment, poverty and an aging population. Liz’s success in that challenging environment has shown us that you don’t need a large and wealthy population to build a successful community foundation.”

Since Sunrise launched three years ago they have grown their endowments funds to $2.1m, have $5.5m pledged in people’s wills and grants have been gifted to 61 worthy causes across the arts, community, education, environment, health and sports communities in the Gisborne/Tairawhiti District, with a total value of $109,000.

All donations to The Sunrise Foundation are invested, protected and grown to keep up with inflation. The surplus investment income is available every year as grants for causes in the Gisborne/Tairawhiti District.