Impactful views from the Philanthropy Summit

Philanthropy New Zealand (PNZ) hosted their biennial Summit in May 2021. This conference is the largest gathering of the philanthropy sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.


There are many examples of the philanthropy sector leading system changes and cross-sector partnerships, through impact investments to improve inclusiveness in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Alastair Rhodes, PNZ’s representative on the National Advisory Board (NAB) explains, “As funders, our mission is to make a positive difference to our communities. In alignment with this, we have now started our journey to ensure all of our investments are having a positive impact”.


Our NAB members, past and present, contributed to the Summit’s programme. We share some of their key highlights from participating in the Summit.


  • Investments through partnership and collaboration will give a higher chance of sustainable outcomes. A Te Ao Māori approach asks us to consider the needs of all communities, in their context, when making investment decisions. Philanthropic Trusts and Foundations often have built trust and partnerships with grassroots organisations. This is important to build on when investing in target communities. Investors benefit from working with intermediaries from target communities to understand impact. Measurement does not always lead to understanding.

  • Ecosystem building is key. Enabling and supporting ventures, intermediaries and investors. Philanthropy has an important role to play here, from seed funding impact funds, to being early investors. Building a community of practice and sharing learning within the philanthropic community can empower others to get involved. The PNZ report Impact Investment in Action, funded by WEL Energy Trust, is an example of how philanthropy can share best practice and build the ecosystem for impact investment in Aotearoa.

  • Just get started and try. A mindset shift is needed from granting to impact, and this is increasingly happening. There will always be a role for grants, but impact investment funds must be leveraged to increase scale.

  • Every investment has an impact on our communities and environments. As funders, all of our missions are to make a positive difference to our communities. We should robustly consider whether we can move all of our investments to have a positive community and environmental impact, alongside strong financial returns, and determine how we could all start this journey.


If you’re interested in exploring these themes, register for the upcoming Impact Investing Network’s webinar on Thursday 17 June, 11:45am-12:45pm.


Alastair Rhodes (BayTrust) and Raewyn Jones (WEL Energy Trust) will go into depth about the contribution of philanthropy to the future of impact investing in Aotearoa New Zealand.