Earthquake: Shaking up NZ's Philanthropic Landscape

Jan 01, 2012 | by
  • Description

On February 22, 2011, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 185 local residents and inflicting massive infrastructural damage. The earthquake and other local tremors have severely altered the landscape of the city, necessitating a process of rebuilding that would cost between an estimated 16 and 24 billion US dollars. Unfortunately, as the author reveals, the strict regional mandates of local Community Trusts in New Zealand precluded them from contributing to a coordinated response to the Christchurch crisis. This paper, then, seeks to encourage Community Trusts to consider developing a national framework that allows them to respond collectively to future natural disasters or other emergencies in New Zealand. Rather than viewing disasters as singular, tragic events, the author argues that they must be considered as a possibility within any community. In order to save lives and ensure financial stability, philanthropic institutions must integrate disaster protection into plans for long-term development. This framework, the author posits, would allow Community Trusts to respond collaboratively without compromising legal funding restrictions and, in turn, encourage a national ideological shift in philanthropic approaches not only within the context of disaster grantmaking, but within other arenas that might also benefit from a unified national approach. Through interviews and research, the author draws upon the best practices of disaster recovery oriented grantmaking institutions in the United States in order to provide a model for New Zealand Community Trusts to maximize their collective impact and, as a result, become key entities in addressing national policy issues in the future.