Creative Kōrero, Media

Acorn Foundation donates more than $2M to the community

Thanks to their generous donor base, the Acorn Foundation announces distributions of more than $2M in grants to 194 organisations and award programmes across the Western Bay of Plenty, in the Eastern Bay on behalf of The Tindall Foundation, and in other locations that are important to their donors.

Acorn Foundation CEO Lori Luke says that donors contribute in all sorts of ways: estates, living gifts, trust resettlements, Community Group funds, Giving Circles and Workplace Giving programmes. Endowment fund grants are distributed to the community once a year in September, while pass-through giving and scholarships and award announcements take place throughout the year.

“The Acorn team is honoured to make these distributions on behalf of our donors, who all care deeply about our community. The recipients that are tagged by our donors, or selected by the Acorn Distributions Committee, are so important to the wellbeing of our region, and it is our privilege to be able to support their hard work.”

2021 is the first year that Acorn’s annual grants to the community have surpassed $2M, which is driven by a nearly 50% growth in their funds under management. The foundation’s funds totalled $36.4M at the end of the financial year in June 2020 and reached $53.6M at the end of June this year. In 2021, gifts in Wills drove most of the growth, with funds also coming in from living giving, community trust resettlements and corporate giving.

Acorn Donor and Community Engagement Manager, Margot McCool, says, “At this time of the year, we really celebrate our endowment donors – wonderfully generous people who have recognised the benefits of a perpetual fund that will keep supporting their chosen causes, forever.”

This year’s distribution marks another milestone for Acorn, as total distributions have now passed the $10M mark since Acorn’s inception in 2003. The foundation is incredibly grateful to all their donors and supporters including volunteers, business and phila nthropic partners and professional advisor firms whose generosity and commitment over the years has been instrumental in helping Acorn to reach this significant achievement With last year ’s investment returns of 13.9% thanks to the team at Craigs Investment Partners with oversight from Acorn’s Investment Advisory Committee Acorn is on track to continue to make an enormous impact in the region for years to come.

Acorn Foundation Chair, Lesley Jensen says, “We so appreciate the support that our many donors provide to the community through Acorn. We know that the Acorn Foundation is making a significant difference to the lives of people here in the Western Bay of Plenty and other areas of New Zealand that are important to our donors. We are honoured to represent these generous people, who are modest, thoughtful New Zealanders who have such a tremendous love for the place where they live.”

One well-known recipient is St John, who receive local support for the Tauranga, Mt. Maunganui, Katikati and Te Puke stations. This year, those four stations were gifted $37,000 from nine different Acorn endowment funds. St John Bay of Plenty District first received donations from Acorn in 2008 and have collectively been granted more than $250,000 over the years.

“St John is very appreciative to have been a long-time recipient of funds from Acorn Foundation donors. Acorn funding has allowed us to purchase vital and life-saving medical equipment for our emergency ambulance service, and to provide health-related services to support our community in the Western Bay of Plenty. Thank you to Acorn donors for enabling St John to provide the best service possible for our community,” said Jeremy Gooders, Bay of Plenty District Operations Manager, St John.

This year, over $345,000 will be paid out via scholarship and award programmes. These awards range from the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the Ockham NZ Book Awards, Page/Acorn Engineering Scholarships, the Outward Bound programme that works with other local donors to send 14 students each year to the Tangaroa Watch, the Dale Carnegie Youth Programme which has now supported more than 270 students through this three-day course in partnership with Priority One’s InStep Programme, arts and sports awards, and a variety of educational scholarships for tertiary study that assist both young people and adult learners to pursue their goals.

September also marks Wills Month, when the Acorn Foundation partners with participating laws firms to allow people to make a change to an existing Will to include a gift to the community through Acorn at no charge. Lori says, “People choose to contribute to our community for all sorts of reasons, and Wills Month is a perfect time for those who want to set up an endowment fund with Acorn to organise their paperwork. Endowment funds – whether donations come via living giving or an estate bequest – are invested in perpetuity, and the investment income is used to support local causes every year. We hope that Wills Month inspires others to join the Acorn family in helping to build thriving communities in the Western Bay of Plenty.”

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