The Tindall Foundation staff and trustees recently spent two days in Matakana, North of Auckland, for our annual Trustee Retreat.  Each year we escape our busy office, get away from our desks and the constant stream of phone calls and emails and take time to look back on the previous year. We reflect on the work we have done, the impact we have made, and the organisations we have supported. We review our strategies and focus areas and plan for the coming year. We discuss issues and areas of need throughout New Zealand and the part we can play in addressing some of the greatest areas of need. The retreat is also a great opportunity to spend time together as a group in a relaxed setting.

It was a highly productive couple of days. We took time to review our major donations for 2015. What strikes me, as I look back at the tremendous work our donation recipients are doing in their communities, is the wide range of projects and organisations we support across Aotearoa New Zealand. Our work is far reaching and ranges from small to large donations; from charitable giving to supporting long term social change initiatives; from projects that empower communities to those that foster social entrepreneurship.

Our Funding Managers work right across the board giving small amounts of money to local groups. Over the past 20 years, they have given away $45.5 million on our behalf. We value the work they do and the local knowledge they provide. Their approach to giving is thoughtful and strategic and helps us spread our donations nationally where it is needed most.

Our focus on funding organisations that work with families and social services remains a high priority for us. Each year we give almost 50 per cent of our total funding to this programme area. Our founders and trustees are passionate about programmes that give children (0-5 years) the best start in life. Our hope is that all children grow up in a happy, healthy and stable family environment. Beyond the early years, we are delighted to be giving to organisations that improve literacy and numeracy for children and adults, those that offer families budgeting support and financial literacy skills, give young people support as they transition to adulthood, support migrants and refugee communities, build neighbourhoods, and provide high quality affordable housing. We are also working on a new collaborative project in an area that is new to us – foster care. We hope this work will support this group of  children which is known to be the most vulnerable in New Zealand.

 Youth employment and enterprise is another key focus for us and one in which we can measure real success i.e. young people in jobs. Some of our largest donations fall within this programme area. This is a long-term commitment to assist more young people into meaningful jobs to improve their outcomes for the future so they can live happy, fulfilled lives and provide strong healthy environments for their families. We do this by connecting young people with employers who have real jobs to offer.

Caring for the environment and preserving biodiversity is important to us. We are part of a very exciting large collaborative environmental project that will launch this year. Although it is too early to reveal what it is, we will be encouraging every New Zealander to take part and do their bit to mitigate climate change. Watch this space….

 Capacity building is a crucial part of building sustainable organisations and a strong and capable social sector. We will continue to provide this support to groups we fund. Over 200 organisations have received Tindall Foundation funded capacity building. We can see excellent, proven long-term outcomes for organisations that are involved in our capacity building programme.

We are all aware that Canterbury is in need of long-term support following the earthquakes. Since the September 2010 quake, we have given more than $6.8 million to Canterbury. Although fantastic work has been done by so many organisations in Christchurch, we are aware that our funding over the next five years will be vital so communities can continue to rebuild, vulnerable children and their families continue to be supported, the city can regenerate, neighbourhoods can continue to grow and thrive.

We look forward to working hard in 2016 to be generous in the most meaningful way possible.