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Trust Earmarks $2M For Dedicated COVID-19 Response Fund

The Otago Community Trust board met virtually for the first time in its history at the beginning of the week. The Trust’s Board Meeting scheduled for the 24th of March was initially postponed as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Otago Community Trust chair Ross McRobie said the Trust met for an urgent meeting, recognising the importance of discussing our response to COVID-19. Trustees unanimously agreed to respond quickly and effectively to support our community at this time by establishing a separate COVID-19 Response Fund.

“Our decision to quickly earmark $2M to a dedicated COVID-19 Response Fund is an effort to reassure those community organisations that may be facing increased costs or responding to greater need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown that help will be available.”

Trust chief executive, Barbara Bridger said that the Trust is now working hard to establish the COVID-19 Response Fund.

“Our key commitment to the community is that we wish to be flexible and responsive at this time. We will provide more information on the criteria and application process to our social services and community-based organisations in the near future.”

Our investment portfolio is robust, it is designed to navigate good and bad years and the current challenging financial downturn, stressed McRobie. We have a good level of accumulated-income reserves in place to support Otago.

The Board will be setting our 2020/2021 Grants budget soon for the coming year and will continue its commitment to supporting our local communities.

Outside of discussing on how Otago Community Trust will respond to COVID-19 for the region, business as usual community grants were approved. Organisations benefiting from grants in March included Lawrence Skate Park Incorporated who received a $40,000 grant and Waitaki Valley Community Society Inc who received a $15,000 grant, both of which will assist these small communities with the development of dedicated skate parks for their communities.

The West Taieri Rugby Football Club Incorporated were approved a $13,000 grant that will in due course assist with the replacement of field lighting at Outram Domain. Citizens Advice Bureau – Dunedin received a $12,000 grant that will support the delivery of their services and the Royal New Zealand Plunket Trust received a $10,000 grant to support their ongoing family support services in Otago.

The Otago Community Trust gave a total of $97,451 to nine community organisations in March 2020. A number of applications had to be withdrawn as a consequence of the rapidly changing environment and national COVID-19 restrictions.

Otago Community Trust Grants, March 2020
BalcluthaSouth Otago Pony Club$1,300
CromwellCromwell and Districts Community Arts Council Inc$700
DunedinDunedin Repertory Soc Inc$2,451
 Citizens Advice Bureau - Dunedin$12,000
MiltonLawrence Skate Park Incorporated$40,000
MosgielThe West Taieri Rugby Football Club Incorporated$13,000
OamaruWaitaki Valley Community Society Inc$15,000
OtagoAnxiety New Zealand Trust$3,000
 Royal New Zealand Plunket Trust$10,000

About the Otago Community Trust

The Otago Community Trust is a philanthropic organisation which applies its Trust funds for charitable and other purposes which are of benefit to the community. The Otago Community Trust has its origins in the Dunedin Savings Bank, established in 1864 by public spirited citizens seeking to encourage thrift within the community, and distribute surplus profits to charitable causes.

In 1988 the Government restructured the ownership of regional savings banks and gifted the ownership of the Otago Savings Bank to the community through the establishment of the Trust Bank Otago Community Trust.

The amalgamation of the regional savings banks resulted in the establishment of Trust Bank New Zealand Ltd. In the mid 1990’s the Otago Community Trust as it is now known sold its shares in Trust Bank New Zealand Ltd for $131M and invested the proceeds.

The Trust now has around $265M invested and since inception has granted more than $170M into the Otago Region. The Trust aims to make wise investment decisions that preserve the original capital for future generations as well as having a healthy grants budget each year.

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