Rātā Foundation’s reflection on the distribution of its $25 million Special Fund.
Rātā Foundation’s distribution of its $25 million Special Fund was a highlight for both staff and the Board of Trustees. The lessons learnt have been invaluable in shaping our future direction.
For only the second time in our history we used money from our capital reserves to create a one-off fund to assist with the social and economic impact of the earthquakes.
We consulted widely to ensure we had a focus on where the real need in communities was and where and how we could deliver the most impact – nearly five years on we are still working hard to prioritise the needs of those in the community most at risk.
There are many fabulous examples in the Canterbury Region of how the money has been put to good use from events to engage community participation such as the Rise Festival, World Buskers Festival, Pallet Pavilion, social housing partnerships, and social enterprise initiatives.
During the creation of this fund the Trustees looked outside of Canterbury, recognising that Christchurch was not alone in being affected. Our three funding regions of Nelson, Marlborough and the Chatham Islands were also supported through the Special Fund.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
In the creation of the Special Fund, partnership was always intended to be the driver which would see real impact coming from the funding provided and the relationships formed. We partnered with the Social Housing Unit (SHU) on our social housing funding, and worked with many other groups, such as Christchurch City Council and Creative NZ to ensure best spend of the funds. There are opportunities to work smarter, thereby reducing the cost of applying to organisations, and increasing the money available to give to groups.
Great ideas can come from many places. Focusing on the community benefit enabled some great decisions to support non traditional groups, such as the Worry Bugs book to help children with post quake anxiety issues and the Kids 2 Town initiative.
Rather than searching for funding once the project is fully scoped, some groups included us in the project early on, enabling Rātā Foundation to be part of the journey and form lasting relationships. The whole Social Enterprise fund ran according to this ethos, and the Foundation was able to bring in connections and challenge to ensure delivery of optional results.
Getting money out to those who needed it quickly was a feature of the Special Fund, with delegated authorities in place to ensure good decisions could be made quickly.
Having a set of strong earthquake related criteria has helped focus the various funds to ensure maximum impact.
Through the Special Fund Rātā Foundation worked in ‘partnership’ to ‘make things happen’ in the community. Bringing events back into Christchurch – both big and small – was the vision behind Rātā Foundation’s $1.9million Event Development Fund. By releasing these funds and helping events – big and small – we helped to assist in the re-engagement of our communities through cultural, recreational and sporting events and provide a lasting legacy for the City by giving it back its vibrancy.
Rātā Foundation was a key player in the successful bid to host in Christchurch the FIFA U20 Men’s World Cup, along with the hosting of Cricket World Cup games in the City and the Te Matatini Kapa Haka Festival. These were three notable events with an international focus, but the Foundation also provided financial support to many home-based events across a variety of disciplines for example SCAPE, World Buskers Festival, Rise Event, the Gut Buster Adventure Race, Avon Spring Festival and the New Brighton Sand Castle Competition and many more benefitted from the Fund. Collaborating with the providers and other funders to make theses events happen contributed to their overall success.
Whole Funding Region Approach
It is easy to remain inward looking in times of disaster or crisis. In creating the Special Fund we were able to extend our help to our other funding regions who had also been indirectly or directly impacted by the devastating earthquakes.
Having Trustees who “owned” the various funds helped to provide direction, and gave staff confidence in the development and assessment of applications.