CHAIR’S REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1 JULY 2019 – 30 JUNE 2020
The Rule Foundation is a charity concerned with the welfare, wellbeing and health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in New Zealand. This report covers the period since the 2019 annual report.
This has been an extraordinarily busy year for the Rule Foundation. We implemented plans for significant improvements to our grants making processes to support our growth and development and to make our grants processes easier for applicants. Our task would have been much more difficult without the timely and efficient efforts of Chris Howatson who volunteered his help all year with the support of JacksonStone, Wellington.
The first half of 2020 was dominated by the Covid-19 global pandemic, which affected all of New Zealand, including the Foundation. The number of grants sought dropped significantly, in part reflecting the number of rainbow community events which were cancelled or could not be planned because of the national lockdown. By the end of June, as the nation re-emerged and we moved to lower alert levels, new issues emerged such as the need to ensure all applications could demonstrate compliance with alert level conditions and news of the cultural, social and economic effects of the pandemic on communities.
Despite this, the Foundation continued to function well. Trustees continued the existing practice of meeting remotely and using online communications. Our Treasurer, Duncan Matthews, with support from Trustee Eileen Kelly, developed a proposal to move to an online grant making process. Trustees approved the proposal to move to SmartyGrants, which began operating in May 2020.
Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund
The most significant event this year was the addition of this new Fund to the Foundation. In February 2020, Trustee David Reeves was able to be with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance when they announced that the Rule Foundation would receive $1,000,000 to manage and administer as a new Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund honouring the legal of homosexual men pardoned after homosexuality was decriminalised. Trustees worked hard to meet the deadlines for establishing the fund and to ensure the first round could open on time. During the national lockdown between March and April we took a range of steps:
- We amended our trust deed to allow establishment of new Funds and registered this amendment with the Charities Commission.
- We signed a letter of agreement with the Ministry of Health setting out the terms and conditions of managing the $1 million fund on behalf of government, including reporting and sustainable management of the fund for its long term sustainability.
- The Rainbow Legacy Wellbeing Fund was established with its own strong identity within the Rule Foundation, clearly outlining the purposes of the fund, its history, and the impact it seeks to make over successive years. The Fund’s online presence is here: https://rulefoundation.nz/our-funds/the-rainbow-wellbeing-legacy-fund/
- Cameron Law and Charlotte von Dadelszen were appointed as Special Trust Advisers pursuant to the Trusts Act 2019 for an initial term of three years. Cameron and Charlotte met with us on several occasions, supporting the work of establishing the new fund, including developing criteria for the inaugural round and proposed capital management of the Fund.
- We requested, received and approved a proposal from Milford Asset Management(our current fund manager) to manage the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund.
- With leadership from Trustee Toni Duder, we developed a plan to promote the inaugural round, including launch of the online application portal on 1 June and related communications on 2 June 2020.
- We engaged Dunedin law firm Cook Gallaway Allen to assist in preparing the trust amendment and related documents.
We are committed to ensuring this Fund is managed successfully for the benefit of Rainbow people in Aotearoa and can contribute towards improving the mental health and wellbeing of future generations of Rainbow people by supporting organisations working with the Rainbow community, particularly young people. We were delighted when the round opened on time on 1 June and that by 15 July, when the round closed, we had received more than 50 applications.
Total grants awarded in the year ended 31 March 2020 was $56,007 across 20 applications. This represented a slight decrease from the year prior, being $65,056 across 24 applications. Of particular note was the low number of repeat applicants for the most recent year – only three organisations received a grant in both the 2019 and 2020 financial year.
Other operating costs for the Foundation remained largely unchanged at $6,592, compared with $7,328 for the previous year. With the onboarding of a new grants management platform, we are expecting a significant increase in operating costs for the current financial year ending 31 March 2021. However this is in part offset by an increase in contribution to operating costs by the management of the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund.
The Trustees expect to distribute a similar amount in grants from The Peter Rule Fund in the current financial year, and $100,000 from the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund.
Financial Strategy and Management
The Foundation has a capital fund that is managed by Milford Asset Management. Our strategy is to carefully manage the fund so that it grows and our grant making activities are sustainable. The Treasurer has regular portfolio meetings with Milford to ensure our strategy is clear and that we understand the performance of the portfolio. Fund management was significantly tested in recent months due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, which caused markets everywhere to drop sharply in March 2020. The Treasurer continued to be active in overseeing capital funds held by the Foundation during this time, and along with the wider Trustees remain confident in the performance and handling of Milford Asset Management during these uncertain times.
The Foundation partnered with the Rainbow NZ Charitable Trust to support research on Rainbow Philanthropy in Aotearoa. The report, researched and written by Trustee Duncan Matthews, launched in April 2020 by webinar, attended by 20+ people and hosted by Philanthropy NZ. Positive findings included a strong trend of increasing giving to Rainbow causes, and well diversified income streams for Rainbow community organisations. Areas to work on include support for operational costs, and funders not commonly listing Rainbow communities as a priority, or tracking grants made to them. The report is available at: https://rulefoundation.nz/about-us/report-into-rainbow-philanthropy-in-aotearoa/
Rule Foundation Trustees
Eileen Kelly and Toni Duder were appointed as Trustees in June 2019. Remaining Trustee terms end on 1 August 2021. In April 2020 the Trustees appointed two Special Trust Advisers to support the newly established Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund.
Peter Rule’s Legacy
During 2019 the Foundation was very pleased to work with members of the NZ Defence Force, especially Wing Commander Stu Pearce, on a range of initiatives to honour the career and memory of Peter Rule. As part of events to mark 25 years since the NZ Defence Force officially removed prohibitions on open LGBTI service personnel, a display was launched in October 2019 at the Air Force Museum at Wigram, Christchurch. Photographs and text told the story of Peter Rule’s career and the discrimination he suffered resulting in his dismissal from the Air Force in the 1970s. The event was attended by Sonia and Neville Hardy (Peter’s sister and brother-in-law) and was hosted by Hon Grant Robertson, Minister of Finance and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. The display served to restore Peter’s profile and reputation in the NZDF and media interest led to an in-depth article published in the New Zealand Herald which in turn generated increased awareness of the work of the Rule Foundation. See more about Peter Rule.
In December 2019 Ethan Sharples was awarded the inaugural Squadron Leader Peter Rule Memorial Award for his work towards diversity and inclusion in the Royal New Zealand Navy. The Rule Foundation provided funds towards the glass trophy which will be awarded annually.
The Trustees strive to honour Peter’s legacy by developing the Foundation so that it can continue to advance the health, well-being and visibility of New Zealand’s rainbow communities in a way that Peter would be delighted with.
The Foundation is well placed to respond to the changing needs of LGBTQI+ people as they deal with the effects of the global pandemic on their communities. We will be monitoring our financial strategy closely to ensure our Funds are sustainable and we can continue to contribute to the welfare, wellbeing and health of LGBTQI+ people.
23 July 2020