18 Aug 2015

New fundraising efforts for Christchurch rebuild

10:15 am on 18 August 2015

The Government wants to establish a community foundation to help secure more than $40 million towards Christchurch's major rebuild projects, after several unsuccessful fundraising attempts.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has asked the Christchurch City Council to jointly create a new entity to attract private funders for at least four of Christchurch's anchor projects.

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Cera has been working on a philanthropy strategy for years and has spent more than $80,000 on advice from fundraising experts SGL Funding Limited since 2012.

The cost of the latest report has yet to be formally reported.

In June last year, Cera said it was about to launch a philanthropic investment campaign as it sought private donations for the central library, the Margaret Mahy Family Playground, the metro sports facility, and the Avon River precinct.

The report, provided by SGL Funding in 2014, said there was "frustration by Cera that limited fundraising progress has been made".

Documents obtained by Radio New Zealand under the Official Information Act show Christchurch City Council asked Cera to underwrite $10 million in philanthropic funding towards the total cost of the city's new central library.

Cera said it was unable to meet the council's request.

Cera acting chief executive, John Ombler, said the authority was still in "ongoing discussions with a range of potential donors and sponsors" but would not say how much money - if any - had already been raised.

Mr Ombler said no Cera-led anchor project was reliant on securing private donations - but that does not appear the case for the council.

In April, a deputy director of Cera's Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU), wrote to the council asking for confirmation that it supported joint development and execution of a philanthropic and sponsorship strategy.

Council chief executive Karleen Edwards responded and said securing private donations was "critical to council, particularly with regard to the $10m" of funding for the library.

The council has allocated $60m to the new library, while the Crown's contribution is $19.4m.

Dr Karleen Edwards

Dr Karleen Edwards Photo: SUPPLIED

Ms Edwards said due to the "urgency" of the funding for the library, the council needed to have assurances by next month that "active processes" were in place to secure the funding.

The council said it was working with Cera on a fundraising strategy, which would be reported to the Christchurch mayor and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee "as soon as possible".

He said a report on the central library - which would include a "definite way forward"- would be presented to the council in December.

Community foundation

Meanwhile, advice prepared by the SGL Group has recommended the creation of a community foundation with a project and endowment funding role.

The report said the project funding role could last for 10 years and suggested the foundation aimed to build an endowment fund of about $200m by 2045.

In a May 2014 memo to the CCDU former's director, officials said establishing a new charitable foundation or trust with non-political trustees was the preferred option.

The recommendations were approved.

The memo outlined the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a trust.

The advantages included being able to provide charitable status to donors and a "credible structure" to encourage donations.

The disadvantages included duplication with existing community funds which could raise the risk of competition for funds and the potential for "negative positioning" around Cera, which expires in April 2016.

The staff memo recommended that the Canterbury Community Trust be a main stakeholder and lead agency of the new foundation.

The Canterbury Community Trust said it was aware that Cera was looking to establish an independent community foundation, which was "worth exploring".

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