Foundation North, the community trust of Auckland and Northland, is New Zealand’s largest philanthropic grantmaker.  Founded in 1988 from the sale of the community’s shares in the Auckland Savings Bank, the Foundation has an endowment of over $1 billion, and grants up to $40 million to Auckland and Northland community organisations, initiatives and facilities each year.

The Foundation has played a pioneering role in philanthropy in New Zealand. Its Māori and Pacific Education Initiative, which saw the Foundation invest $20 million in multi-year grants from 2008 to support innovative initiatives to raise the achievement of Māori and Pacific students, provided a model for high engagement venture philanthropy in New Zealand. The Foundation continues to direct a substantial portion of its annual grants budget to innovative projects and practices with the potential to create significant positive change.

The Foundation drew on its own experience of the value of supporting the capacity development of its high engagement community partners to establish the Centre for Social Impact in 2014.  It saw the potential for the Centre to provide service to the Foundation, and to become a centre of excellence that could be a resource to New Zealand’s wider philanthropic sector.

Today the Foundation funds the Centre for Social Impact to co-design the continuing development and implementation of its own funding strategies, and to provide additional support to assist selected organisations to develop their capacity to deliver on their vision and achieve social impact.


Our work with Foundation North

Catalysts for Change

The Foundation’s Catalysts for Change funding programme supports organisations that are addressing major social issues. The Centre’s role with the Catalysts for Change programme ranges from providing assistance to the Foundation with assessments of applicant organisations’ readiness for investment, to providing tailored assistance to each community partner funded through the programme.  Central to the Centre’s role with each partner, and the Foundation, is to understand what is happening for the partner at each stage of the investment programme, identify opportunities for improvement, and measure the social impact of the investment.  This enables the community partners and Foundation North to capture what is learnt so that it can be used to refine and develop future programmes. Through the Centre’s corporate partners, Catalyst for Change organisations can also access high-level specialist support as required. Current Catalyst for Change grantees with which the Centre is involved include:



In 2016, Foundation North launched a $5 million innovation fund that aims to find solutions to complex environmental issues facing the Hauraki Gulf. The Gulf Innovation Fund.Together (G.I.F.T) will support innovative responses to environmental challenges in the Gulf over five years of focused grant making.  Grants will be available to support projects from prototyping to implementation.

The Centre for Social Impact worked with Foundation North to develop a ‘seed / scale / system’ funding framework to support innovation funding for initiatives such as G.I.F.T.   This provides a high degree of grant-making flexibility from early stage project development, to prototyping, to scaling of successful prototypes. 

The Centre then helped the Foundation deliver a series of innovation workshops to engage people and organisations with an interest in the Gulf and encourage applications. 

Visit the G.I.F.T. website


Maori and Pacific Education Initiative – Longitudinal study

Foundation North has commissioned the Centre to carry out a study over ten years of the impact of its pioneering Māori and Pacific Education Initiative. The longitudinal study was given the name Ngā Tau Tuangahuru ('Looking Beyond for Ten More Years') by Foundation North Kaumātua Kevin Prime. 

Ngā Tau Tuangahuru, which is being lead for the Centre by Dr Fiona Cram, will explore the hopes and aspirations of 100 Māori and Pacific learners, what success looks like for these learners and their families over time and how that success can be supported at individual, family/whānau, school, community and policy levels.

One hundred students and their families will be interviewed four times over ten years. The first wave of interviews will be completed by the end of October 2017. This study continues the 2006 vision of “Mā tātou anō tātou e korero - We speak for ourselves.’

Visit Foundation North's Website