Philanthropy – The benefits flow both ways

Why even think about philanthropy? We explore the many rewards of doing so and some of the great organisations that offer advice to help you make a meaningful difference.

 Who can be a philanthropist? 

You don’t need to be ultra-wealthy to be a philanthropist. The economic and environmental problems caused by the COVID crisis over the last year or so has highlighted what a fortunate position many of us are in compared to others. This has led to generous donations of money or time to charity by many individuals and families. 

However, how do you know your charitable giving will make a meaningful difference? At the last count, there were 27,921 registered charities in New Zealand (roughly one charity for every 170 New Zealanders), many of whom do great work but sometimes they appear to be fighting for similar causes to other charities. Often they seem to be competing for the same dollars and many well-meaning charities are saddled with high administrative costs and sometimes struggle to make an impact. 

Faced with this unclear pathway and often fatigued by numerous approaches from different causes, many individuals and families simply put their philanthropic aspirations to the bottom of their “to do” list, to be addressed some other time. Often, despite their best intentions, they just never get around to doing anything about it, apart from the occasional, spur of the moment reaction. 

Why even think about philanthropy? 

There are many reasons to keep a structured philanthropy strategy on the agenda for family discussions. Here are just a few; 

1. Succession planning; Philanthropy is about selfless concern for others, but it is also of immense benefit to the donor and their family. It’s a great way to get the family around the table and discuss shared values. These conversations can be used as a backbone for wider discussions around succession planning and it’s a great opportunity to give younger generations of the family a chance to participate in decision making and strategy. 

2. Financial management; Family discussions around philanthropy are important preparation for the younger generation to start thinking about money and how to use it. Many of the most successful family groups around the world have noted that their families learn more about financial matters by learning how to prudently give money away rather than by simply accumulating wealth and spending it. 

3. A fulfilling life; Family members learn through philanthropy that wealth is not just about being able to afford what they want, but it can be a powerful tool to create better lives for others. This leads to more purpose, fulfilment and ultimately, happiness. 

Sensible and effective philanthropy is not easy. As Andrew Carnegie (the American industrialist and philanthropist) said “it is more difficult to give money away intelligently than it is to earn it in the first place”. 

But there is a responsibility that comes with wealth to investigate and put in place effective philanthropic strategies and also to ensure impactful use of the funds donated. 

The act of formulating and implementing such a strategy has many benefits in terms of financial awareness and purposeful living. 

The rewards of being a donor 

Targeted and well thought through philanthropy can make a real difference in New Zealand. There are great examples of charitable organisations that have broken the cycle of poverty in certain areas or have improved environmental factors in various regions. 

Just a small donation to such organisations can be effective and can change lives if used properly. When a philanthropist finds a charity that makes a difference, it is hugely rewarding to the donor, especially if the donation is long term with measurable impact and the donor can follow the charity on its journey. But often, it is the selection and ongoing monitoring of appropriate charities that causes donors and potential donors some headaches. 

How to make a difference? 

Once you have talked through some of the items mentioned above and decided on your charitable priorities, how do you ensure that your giving is going to make a meaningful difference and how will you measure that? 

Many people and organisations are keen to give advice on this subject, but a good place to start are reputable organisations such as Philanthropy NZ, the national organisation offering representation, networking and information to the philanthropic sector. 

Locally, there are community foundations. An example would be the Auckland Foundation, an independent charitable foundation which manages endowments for philanthropic clients. 

The Milford Foundation can also help. The Milford Foundation has been established to help strengthen communities throughout New Zealand by utilising Milford’s financial resources, investment expertise and commercial discipline. 

If your charitable aspirations line up with the three granting pillars of the Milford Foundation (Youth, Education and the Environment), then this is an excellent way to donate to great causes, in the knowledge that Milford are overseeing and working alongside the charity partners to ensure impact as well as growing the donations to ensure a long term relationships with chosen charities. 

Written by Richard Pilley

Kiwi Can Stories & Research

Read here about some key insights as a result of the Kiwi Can programme.

Information was taken from the most recent Kiwi Can research we have (end of 2020). Below are infographics that cover how many leaders and decile 1-3 schools are in our Kiwi Can programme nationwide and if our student are benefiting from our programmes:

Schools were asked to rate an extent of student gains in the four areas shown in the graphs below, as of a result of their participation in Kiwi Can. The five response categories on the Likert scale were “not at all”, “very little”, “a little”, “quite a lot”, and “a lot”.


Excellence Awards:

At the end of 2020 Graeme Dingle Foundation held our annual Excellence Awards to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding students, staff, and schools we work with.  The Kiwi Can programme had a number of accolades on the day. Kaeo School in the Northland took away the Outstanding Kiwi Can School Award. This award is presented to a school that demonstrates exceptional commitment to the Kiwi Can programme supporting Kiwi Can leaders, its students and the wider community.

Kiwi Can staff from around the country were also acknowledged with the Outstanding Team Leader Award. This year the winners were Pitiera Tuhura and Renee Leabourn from Western Bay of Plenty. These staff received recognition for their exceptional programme delivery, commitment to their student’s wellbeing, and creativity with Kiwi Can online delivery during lockdown. 

(Photo is Kaeo School deputy Principle Debbie Hancock receiving her award).

NZR Charity of Choice Partnership

Graeme Dingle Foundation is in its second year as the official charity of choice for New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and its national teams, including the All Blacks, Black Ferns, Maori All Blacks, New Zealand Under 20, Black Ferns Sevens and All Blacks Sevens. This partnership enables youth on our programmes to connect with their role models during school visits, fundraising events, marketing campaigns and match tickets.

Community Projects:


During term one last year, Kiwi Can students from Finlayson Park School had the opportunity to artistically portray their community and school values in a mural. This community project was supported by the local Manurewa Rugby Club and carried out by a group of Year 5 and 7 rangatahi, Kiwi Can leaders and a Finlayson Park School teacher aid. Children learnt first-hand teamwork, communication, and goal setting as they contributed to each stage of the project.

The group worked collaboratively to design the meaningful artwork. The diamond shape represents a cultural iteration of a marae concept, the layers symbolise cultural diversity within Manurewa. The logo was then surrounded by New Zealand’s unique and beautiful flora and fauna.  Primary students were also joined by seniors from nearby James Cook High who decorated a separate portion of the storage container. (photo below is Kiwi Can students from Finlayson Park School)


Community projects in the Wellington region provided an opportunity for Kiwi Can kids from three schools to learn about their natural environment, respect and kindness. Windley School and Russell School children became young gardeners while establishing vegetable planters at each classroom. The produce grown will be shared within the school, whanau or donated to WELLfed community cooking. Younger students from Windley also painted ‘happy rocks’ to place in community spaces and lift spirits of those that found them.

Tairangi School chose to celebrate Matariki, Māori New Year, by working together to build kites. Kites have traditionally been flown by Maori to signify the start of Matariki. Kiwi Can students learnt the correct way to harvest flax by removing Tupuna (grandparent stems) after saying a karakia (prayer), and the correct way to harvest Toi Toi. Back at school students collaborated in teams as they constructed traditional kites from these natural materials.  (Photo is Kiwi Can students from Tairangi School and Russell School).

Kiwi Can through COVID-19

COVID-19 provided a variety of challenges for New Zealanders nationwide, our tamariki in particular felt the affects of the pandemic as many of their families were heavily impacted by lockdowns, economic uncertainty and disruption of daily life.

From the outset of the initial nationwide lockdown Kiwi Can staff around the country were committed to helping young people feel connected and reducing any anxiety they might be experiencing. Adjusting quickly to online formats of programme delivery, Kiwi Can Leaders and Co-ordinators worked with their schools to reassure, inspire and support tamariki. Internet and TVNZ lessons included important topics such as ‘Understanding Emotions’, ‘Dealing with Challenges’, ‘Problem Solving’ and ‘Self-discipline’. Content fostered stronger social-emotional competence and engaged students at home. 

Over the course of the year, Kiwi Can delivery varied by region and school preferences, while keeping the essence of the programme. This adaptability and positive content was appreciated by many schools that recognised the importance of Kiwi Can in their school communities.

Some quotes from principles of some of our Kiwi Can Schools:

Students due to Covid have had a very disruptive year. They have been involved in number of strategies to help them cope with anxiety. Student behaviours have been up and down this year. Covid has brought out behaviours from some students we haven’t seen before and Kiwi Can have identified these and are supporting students through these”

Clendon Park, Auckland

This year with Covid we have seen our students really needing these [Kiwi Can] skill sets to navigate through their own mental wellness and the wellbeing of others

Melville Primary School, Waikato

They have learnt a lot from the last survey considering Covid Lockdown interruptions but all in all the students have learnt a lot in Kiwi Can from Term 1 till now even with small numbers of students in classes, but they have enjoyed watching Kiwi Can online with the video sessions emailed through.”  Sutton Park, Auckland

Link to Tamariki Talks online:


At the end of every year, Graeme Dingle Foundation’s research team send out surveys to all out Kiwi Can schools (that fall under the decile 1-3 demographic) and question them about the programme, delivery and how it has impacted their school.

The below data is taken from principles/ teachers that responded to the surveys – 68 schools in total were questioned. However, some of the statistics may have varying numbers – this is due schools not answering all the questions or missing a few.

Kandoo Can: Make Friends – Research Project.

Kandoo is our programmes mascot and is very popular with our kids. In 2020, the Kandoo Can: Make Friends book was published and narrates the story of Kandoo the kiwi and his quest to find friends to play with. In the story different characters tell Kandoo one-by-one that they cannot play because there is something wrong with them. Kandoo re-assures them that they are “truly perfect” and they make a unique contribution to the team, the story ends with everyone playing together.

Children’s picture books are a source of emotional and moral development and can help children understand thoughts and feelings better. The team have surveyed two schools in the Auckland region.

Our research showed that the children liked the book, remembered it, the storyline and the characters months after the book was given to them. These responses indicated that they all understood the books message around friendship and inclusivity.

Interested to read more?

Download our KIWI CAN– KIWI KAHA brochure
A Morning at Clendon Park Primary School

Recently, some of the Milford Foundation Trustees were invited by Graeme Dingle Foundation to Clendon Park School to see the impact of their Kiwi Can programme first-hand. Clendon Park is a decile 1 primary school located in the heart of Manurewa, Auckland, with 93% of students being Maori or Pasifika. The school prides itself on providing students with a multicultural learning environment, with a Maori bilingual unit established in 2000.

Kiwi Can is the Graeme Dingle Foundation’s primary school programme teaching key life skills and values, with 21,000 children across Aotearoa going through this programme every week. 

Kiwi Can is a huge part of the school’s culture and has been for the past 10 years, with the programme being introduced to Clendon Park in 2011. Milford up until the launch of the Milford Foundation has supported the Kiwi Can programme for several years, and after our review process through establishing the Milford Foundation, it became abundantly clear that the Milford Foundation would continue to do so. Part of the ongoing relationship with our partners moving forward is to stay close to the grants we distribute by ensuring we see on a regular basis how the money is being used and ultimately the impact it is making. In late May, the Milford Foundation Trustee’s were invited to view the Kiwi Can programme first hand, of which we did one bleak and bitterly cold Auckland Friday morning. 

When you work in Auckland’s city centre and go home to a warm dry home at the end of the day, you might be forgiven for not considering the abject poverty just 40 minutes down the Southern Motorway. Parking outside Clendon Park school we were struck almost immediately by the sight of children arriving to start their school day in clothing that was not conducive to the climate that day. So many of the kids wearing shoes multiple sizes too big for them, some with no shoes at all. Whilst we hovered outside the school gates waiting for our hosts, what we also observed was the enthusiasm on every single child’s face at the prospect of the school day ahead. The arrival into what became quickly clear to us, to a safe environment where the pressures from the outside world and challenging home environments were kept firmly outside the school gates until 3pm each day. 

The Principal and Deputy Principal greeted us with utter sincerity and openness and talked freely about the challenges they face on a daily basis educating children from year 0-8 in a 1 decile school environment with, most of its students growing up in below the poverty line households. These leaders, both having been at the school for well over a decade clearly had a formidable partnership and it was clear to us that they work tirelessly both inside and out of the school ensuring that their students are in a safe learning environment and that the students are given every opportunity possible to shine. 

The Kiwi Can programme is run by ‘Kiwi Can Leaders’ employed by the Graeme Dingle Foundation, and offers each year group a lesson once a week in a dedicated classroom. We can only describe the three Kiwi Can Leaders we met that day as utterly impressive.  

The mana they portrayed to the class we observed was magnetic. Each and every child was utterly focussed on the lesson of that day which was around Integrity. Roll playing, interactive play and clear definitions and examples of what Integrity is and what it isn’t and why it is important, were interwoven throughout the 40 minute lesson. We were completely captivated by both the Kiwi Can leaders and the children. 

We were left in absolutely no doubt that the funding we provide the Graeme Dingle Foundation is a fantastic investment as we observed these children learning crucial values to set them up to be the best possible versions of themselves. Each and every child we observed that morning clearly knew the importance of respect and integrity and were genuinely kind to each other while in awe of their Kiwi Can Leaders. It really was a special  gift for us to be included in the classroom that day  and to see the benefit of our funding first hand. 

Bryce Marsden 

Chief Executive, Milford Foundation