Our funds are set up by people from all walks of life, from average working families to the very wealthy. Each of our donors have one thing in common—a sincere wish to leave our community a gift so that it is better off in the future than it is at the present. Donors with no living heirs often choose to leave a substantial part of their estate to Acorn, while donors with children and grandchildren might choose to leave a portion of their estate—frequently 10%--for Acorn to distribute on their behalf.
Once a donor has made the decision to set up fund with Acorn, it is a very simple process to get the change made to your Will. Most solicitors in the Western Bay are familiar with Acorn and know the clause that is needed to be added to an existing Will. The information can also be found on our website at Forms and Guidance Notes or in our Acorn Foundation packs that can be mailed out to you. Simply Contact us to request information.
September is Wills Month, and many of our local solicitors have partnered with us to make a simple change to an existing Will to include a gift to Acorn at no charge throughout the month. Get more information about this promotion at Wills Month.
After your Will is changed, you will meet with one of the Acorn staff members to fill out your Endowment Fund form that provides direction to us on how you want your fund distributed. We keep your wishes on file, and you can change your beneficiaries at any time without changing your Will.
There is no fixed charge to set up an endowment fund with Acorn. We appreciate a donation towards the operating costs of Acorn, and a recommended donation will be discussed with you at the time you set up your fund. Acorn receives just 1% of the value of the fund annually for its operating costs.
Acorn is governed by a voluntary Board of nine Trustees, who are appointed by local territorial authorities and professional bodies. The trustees serve a maximum of eight years each on the Board.
There are currently three paid staff members: the General Manager who works full-time, the Donor and Community Engagement Manager and the Communicators and Events Coordinator who both work part-time.
Acorn appoints an Investment Advisory Committee (comprising 2 trustees and other experts in the field), whose role it is to oversee both the investment policy and the performance of the Investment Manager. The Acorn Foundation SIP was updated in March 2018.
Our investments are currently managed by our long-term partner, Craigs Investment Partners.
Because we only distribute a portion of the interest income earned each year (4% for the past several years), the fund continues to grow. Our fund manager, Craigs Investment Partners, has achieved a compounded growth rate of 8.3% over the most recent 10 years, ending 30 June 2018.
We believe that this method provides the best opportunity to inflation-proof the funds.
Many of our donors get a lot of satisfaction out of giving during their lifetime. You can start adding to your named Endowment Fund at any point; once the fund reaches $50,000, you can start making annual distributions to recipients you have selected.
Some donors enjoy meeting scholarship winners or seeing the organisations that they support in action. Acorn staff are happy to coordinate these visits for our donors.
Acorn has donors who choose to select specific charities, while other donors are perfectly happy to leave the decision to the Acorn Distributions Committee.
Every year, dozens of local charities apply for funding in May, and applications are carefully evaluated by Acorn staff and volunteer committee members (two of whom are trustees and the rest are locals who are entrenched in the community with expertise in the not-for-profit sector). The Distributions Committee reviews financial statements and schedules visits with organisations with which we have less experience.
In August, Distributions Committee decisions are ratified by the Board and charities are notified.
At least half of our donors have specific charities that they name or areas of interest that they communicate to us. Endowment funds that name charities are called tagged funds, and our Distributions Committee specifically provides that funding every year. Tagged donations can be very valuable for organisations because it is money that they can count on receiving every year.
A range of 3.5% – 5% is distributed from each fund annually. For the past several years, 4% has been distributed. A good way to think about annual distributions is the following: around $4,000 is distributed every year for each $100,000 that is invested in a fund.
You are welcome to change your instructions regarding distributions at any time. Please give the Acorn team a call to discuss your interests. You will not need to change your Will; you simply update the recipients on your Endowment Fund form that Acorn has on file.
Our Donor and Community Engagement Manager and Distributions Committee members maintain excellent relationships with charitable organisations within our community. If there is a concern about the operations of a charity which is a named beneficiary of a donor, our trustees will endeavour to identify another local recipient organisation that meets the aims of that donor.
The only Acorn Foundation is found here in the Western Bay of Plenty, but there are currently 16 other regions in New Zealand with a community foundation that is similar in nature to Acorn. Each foundation is independent of the others, but they all share ideas and belong to the national body, Community Foundations of NZ.