Observations from Philanthropy New Zealand Summit 2015


Julia Steele Scott


I was privileged to join the Australian delegation to attend Philanthropy New Zealand’s Philanthropy Summit 2015, held 15-16 April in Auckland. It is tremendous to see the strengthening of relationships with our colleagues across the Tasman as a result. There’s also a terrific level of excitement and inspiration that has been drawn from the thought leadership presented.

Haere Mai! was an often heard greeting from our New Zealand hosts who warmly welcomed all attendees from around the globe. There was an overall palpable feeling of good will and comradery and I was very moved by the NZ culture and ‘strong sense of place’.

The next huge tsunami of philanthropic change will be social impact investing
Peter Hero was one of the Summit’s most engaging speakers – it was a great experience to hear from such a dynamic leader in the sector. Peter is founder of the US-based Hero Group, a global philanthropic Silicon Valley consulting firm. He is best known for his 17 years as CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation where he started with $8 million in assets and grew it to an astounding $1.3 billion.

Peter discussed the following four emerging themes which are occurring globally driving a new philanthropy:

  • New donors, often self-made, who are using technology and data, listening to their networks and colleagues, and applying business concepts to their giving
  • New giving strategies
  • New rhetoric
  • Growth of impact investing – more funders are starting to use not only their income statement but the balance sheet to do social good

Peter stated that ‘online philanthropy is reactive philanthropy – which is not bad, just as long as it doesn’t become the new rhetoric.’

Supporting social entrepreneurs – investing in failures, not an easy gig
It was great to hear from fellow Australian Alan English, entrepreneur and 2014 Philanthropy Australia ‘Philanthropy Leader of the Year’.

Alan challenged us to consider backing and supporting social entrepreneurs, and to develop an appetite to embrace failure, which is ‘not an easy gig’. He talked about the importance of investing in future leaders and supporting infrastructure in the sector to help them build success.

Alan also shared his personal story. which included failures on his road to becoming a successful businessman. It was great to hear that he has set some ‘big hairy audacious goals’ which include funding 1 million people out of poverty in India by 2020.

The conference opened with the Maori definition of philanthropy as the ‘delving and the giving of love to our land’. The scene was certainly set from the onset and we were challenged to think about how to use our power, influence and/or money to address and action issues in our own communities.

Can’t wait for the next one!!!

Julia Steele Scott is SA/WA Manager at Philanthropy Australia.

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