How collaborative philanthropy can make a greater impact

The floods and subsequent cyclone that battered the country in early 2023 caused significant, widespread damage and destruction to our families and our communities.  Philanthropy’s agile nature and its ability to act swiftly has been welcomed by communities who were in desperate need of flood relief support. We’re still on the funding journey to help those communities that were hardest hit – and those whom are still in the early stages of recovery, and we’re learning lessons along the way.

TTF Local Donation Manager Community Waikato told us first-hand, how immediate funding supported their community when they needed it most.  We share with you the words of our Local Donation Manager, Community Waikato.

“In February 2023, The Tindall Foundation responded rapidly with significant financial support, to the devastation brought upon our communities by multiple significant weather events, particularly Cyclone Gabrielle. In doing so, TTF bridged the crucial gap of urgent need, allowing organisations to respond to immediate community need, until access to government funding became available. Both the rapid response by TTF, and the minimal application requirements, were hugely helpful to organisations in the initial aftermath of the storms to provide food, social and other support.”.

“Funds were used to put petrol in cars so volunteers were able to travel many kilometres, through difficult terrain to check on people who were isolated and in damaged homes with no power and limited food. Food parcels and Countdown vouchers were provided to families along with other essentials like batteries and nappies (the length of the power outages meant battery powered torches and so on ran out well before the power came back on).

“Social worker support was made available for people dealing with overwhelming stress related to the loss and damage of homes and belongings.  Many experienced loss of employment due to flood damage and businesses were unable to operate because of roading damage making access impossible.  The damage, and in some cases complete destruction of key access roads (some of which are still not repaired and won’t be for months) has created significant stress for many people as the alternative routes are difficult to drive and add hours to trips to supermarkets, medical services etc. All of these factors impacted directly on people’s financial ability to get back on their feet.  Thankfully, key organisations identified the need for responsive community transport and are providing organised volunteer-driven van trips enabling people to attend necessary appointments and access services.

“Access to re-use centres was provided for people to replace household items, clothing, bedding etc for free and workers were made available to assist people in cleaning up homes and sections. Ongoing social isolation has been reported as an issue in communities still recovering from covid associated isolation. To alleviate this, ‘isolation buster’ community meals and gatherings have become a feature of communities and are well attended. Our rural/remote communities are resilient and strong, and rally around to support each other. Receiving initial funding so rapidly to support this provided a value to these communities far in excess of the actual dollar amount provided and was very gratefully received.” – Community Waikato.

The more philanthropic funders can work together – the greater the impact, so a multi-faceted and collaborative approach co-ordinated by Philanthropy New Zealand (PNZ) saw multiple funders act quickly to get emergency funds to those most in need.

What we learned on our journey:

Working together
Philanthropy New Zealand became an integral connector of funders, bringing us together to share information about what we’re doing, where we’re doing it, how and with whom.  During the peak of the 2023 floods and Cyclone Gabrielle, PNZ hosted weekly meetings with as many as 15 major national and regional funders and councils etc to help achieve a cohesive and collaborative approach, reducing potential duplication to achieve greater impact.

Relational giving
Community organisations with whom we had existing relationships were among the first to receive funds and we were able to deposit funding directly to their accounts – sometimes within hours, which helped tide them over until government support was available.

Proactive giving
We proactively reached out to those communities/organisations we had existing relationships with who were in the hardest hit areas and in many cases, were able to offer financial support to them too.

TTF Local Donation Managers are our eyes and ears in the community
TTF Local Donation Managers (LDM’s) distribute pass-through funds on our behalf, and being located regionally meant many of them were at ground zero in their communities, so they knew where the highest needs were.  Through our LDM’s, we were able to immediately distribute funding across 15 community organisations in the Hawkes Bay and Tairāwhiti regions.

Pivot funding
Wairoa in Hawkes Bay was one of the hardest hit areas and our existing relationship with Hikurangi Enterprises meant funding earmarked for their Whare Ora project in Ruatoria to build low cost, affordable, healthy homes – was able to be redirected to flood ravaged Wairoa to help build homes for whānau who had been displaced by the floods and had nowhere to go.

The philanthropic sector is learning a lot about what can happen when disaster strikes – when a community loses its infrastructure, its communications and its food supply we know that by working together in the very early stages of disaster – urgent funding is integral for our communities.