Philanthropic organisations have enormous potential to make a difference in the world if they have a clear purpose and a sound strategy. MAS has turned to one of New Zealand’s leading philanthropic consultants to help get the MAS Foundation off to the best possible start.

Michelle Wanwimolruk is an experienced philanthropic consultant who won the Kiwi Invest Emerging Leader Award earlier this year at the Philanthropy New Zealand Awards.

She won this award for her work with The Borrin Foundation – a new and significant philanthropic entity in New Zealand funding legal research and scholarships – established through a bequest of the late Judge Ian Borrin. Michelle worked with the trustees to establish the organisation, and she continues to serve as the Foundation’s Chief Philanthropic Officer.


Making an impact

Michelle says the key to establishing a new philanthropic organisation, is developing a clear strategy and goals to ensure the organisation makes an impact.

“Everyone knows that having a pile of money gets you into the business of philanthropy, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to do a good job of it. To have an impact with your philanthropy, you need to go further than cheque-book grant making.

“What makes the best grant makers well known is that they do more than just give money. They lend support, and they convene and gather people and do a lot more thinking about the issues and systems involved so they can play an active part in social change.”

Focus on health research

The MAS Foundation will focus on health research, education and promotion, and it is expected to give away about $2 million a year once it is up and running. But Michelle says the MAS Foundation will need to think carefully about its niche and strategy to get the most out of this investment.

“The thing we always need to think about is how a private philanthropic funder can have a disproportionately positive impact and complement public funding to be a catalyst for greater change.

“Philanthropy has a role in funding riskier projects, more innovative projects at an early stage. Government can then take to scale in a way that philanthropy can never do.”

Late last year, The MAS Foundation’s inaugural board of trustees was announced. The Trustees are Jenny Gill, Sharon Shea, Professor Boyd Swinburn, Dr Julia Ioane and Dr Carrie Bryers. Michelle will hold workshops with them early this year to focus on establishing the Foundation’s strategy and vision.

Read more about the new trustees here.

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