Article: The Gift Trust bucks the trend in environmental funding

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Last year, the Government declared a climate emergency. Philanthropy could be part of the solution but less than 4% of philanthropic funds in Aotearoa, New Zealand are going to environmental causes. However The Gift Trust is a donor-advised fund that is bucking this trend, giving over 36% of our grants to environmental and conservation causes in the last financial year.

This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Philanthropy News, published by Philanthropy New Zealand. Click here to read it as it was originally published.


Last year, the Government declared a climate emergency. Philanthropy could be part of the solution but less than 4% of philanthropic funds in Aotearoa, New Zealand are going to environmental causes. However The Gift Trust is a donor-advised fund that is bucking this trend, giving over 36% of our grants to environmental and conservation causes in the last financial year. In total The Gift Trust’s donors have gifted over $1.5 million to this sector so far.

Why so much for one sector? Partly because funding decisions are made by The Gift Trust’s donors and we’ve attracted many environmentally focussed donors who spread the word to other donors. Giving begets more giving! Some donors joined The Gift Trust already dedicated to environmental causes, while others have followed other donors’ lead through public facing funds such as the Carbon Critical Net-Zero Fund (read more below). The Gift Trust also conducts research into charities that fit our donors’ interest areas and so we are looking into more charities working on environmental and climate change issues and promoting them to other donors.

The Gift Trust supports its donors, who range from individuals, families, foundations and businesses, to manage and conduct their philanthropy in a more efficient way. While funding decisions are made by the donors, The Gift Trust conducts research and advises donors on opportunities within their sectors of interest. One of our environmental focussed funds, the Carbon Critical Net Zero Fund, supports a range of causes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, both here in Aotearoa and internationally. The fund has supported Te Ara Whatu, Generation Zero, 350 Aotearoa and the USA based organisations Clean Air Task Force, Climate Emergency Fund and Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

The donors supporting this fund are realising that investment in climate advocacy can challenge existing policies and power structures, to create systems change.

Climate change has cultural intersections. It is an issue that will hit our indigenous and Pacific communities the hardest. That is why The Gift Trust introduced some of our donors to Te Ara Whatu, a rangatahi-led indigenous youth movement from the Pacific and Aotearoa, fighting for climate justice. They run wānanga around the country for indigenous youth and involve their youth leaders in international talks, such as a delegation going to COP26.

Another of the environmental causes The Gift Trust donors are supporting is the Learning Environment, a Whanganui based project to regenerate Pīwakawaka Farm as part of a “living campus” offering practical environmental courses for students. One of our Gift Account holders, the Namaste Fund, gave a donation of $300,000 to the Learning Environment, and we have facilitated a further $360,000 of donations to them from American based donors through our fund in the USA.

A blog recently featured in Alliance magazine discussed the benefits of funding through intermediaries who run climate change focussed funds like The Gift Trust. Giving through a climate change funding intermediary, according to Florence Miller, director of the UK-based Environmental Funders’ Network, is, ‘much more efficient, cuts down on bureaucracy and allows funders to focus on a wide range of solutions. You don’t want all your eggs in one basket.’

We’re proud at The Gift Trust to be supporting our donors to effectively give to environmental causes and create a world in which future generations can flourish.

Environment/conservation organisations that have received grants of more than $10,000 from Gift Trust donors:

  • 350 Aotearoa

  • Australian Earth Laws Alliance

  • Clean Air Task Force

  • Climate Emergency Fund

  • Coalition for Rainforest Nations

  • Ducks Unlimited

  • Ekos

  • Environment and Conservation Organisations NZ

  • For the Love of Bees

  • Forest & Bird

  • Garden to Table Trust

  • Globaia

  • Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

  • Kaibosh

  • Koanga Institute

  • Lawyers for Climate Action NZ

  • Million Metres Streams Project (Sustainable Business Network)

  • Te Ara Whatu

  • Tīwaiwaka

  • River Aotearoa Charitable Trust

  • River Watch

  • Woven Rivers Charitable Trust (The Learning Environment)

“The Gift Trust provides a personalised service for my plan to give, donate and support the causes that are important to me at a reasonable cost.”

— Gillian, Gift Trust donor

"The gift accounts offered by The Gift Trust are a good option for individuals or organisations wanting to consolidate their charitable giving. I encourage all financial advisers to consider this important development."

– Dr Rodger Spiller, Financial Adviser, Money Matters

“An area of importance to our clients is charitable giving. The Gift Trust offers an opportunity to streamline the gifting process, while adding increased confidence and transparency. It also provides robust due diligence of eligible charities and access to additional support services for clients with complex needs.”

— Philip Stevenson, Bloomsbury Associates. CEFEX Certified Investment Adviser

“We would like to recognise and offer thanks for the support we receive though The Gift Trust’s donation. An annual donation from one of your donors is one of the largest donations that Kaibosh receives each year and has been absolutely pivotal to our ability to operate with confidence and to expand our operation across the Hutt Valley. We are extremely thankful.”

— Matt Dagger, Kaibosh, Gift Trust grant recipient

“My gift account has made my giving easy. It lets me get straight to the fun and satisfying part of giving to the causes I care about, without the hassle.”

— Anake, Gift Trust donor

"The Gift Trust provides a flexible and robust structure, to support donors' charitable giving intentions, while still enabling them to have a say in the investment of donated funds."

– David Ireland, Partner, Dentons Kensington Swan

"A Gift Account with The Gift Trust is a great option as an alternative to setting up a charity or private foundation while still preserving clients' control over their giving."

– Steven Moe, Partner, Parry Field Lawyers

"The administration and ongoing compliance requirements involved in setting up a private charity can be onerous, and even risky. Setting up a Gift Account allows The Gift Trust to look after those requirements, and provide support that allows the donor to focus on what they really want to do with their gifts."

– Sue Barker, Sue Barker Charities Law

"The Gift Trust takes the guesswork out of giving. Having support with research and due diligence on donations ensures that funds are truly making the desired impact. It has been a real pleasure to work with The Gift Trust."

– Ben, Gift Account holder

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