Waikato people are a very generous lot, along with so many other bighearted New Zealanders.

Philanthropy helps to make the Waikato a better place to live, and so it is important to keep track of how well and how much we are giving. As a country we did well in 2015, but there is room for improvement in doing good.

In November, the global Charities Aid Foundation published the “CAF World Giving Index 2015”, which found that New Zealand is one of the most generous countries in the world. The results may surprise some, but we should be quietly proud knowing that we are the third most generous country in the world. The USA came in second place, with Myanmar (Burma) astonishingly coming in first place - proving that you don’t have to be wealthy to be generous. Generosity is measured by CAF based on the percentage of people who donate money (NZ: 73%), have helped a stranger (NZ: 65%), and who volunteer their time (NZ: 45%).

In December, Philanthropy New Zealand also published its regularly updated report “Giving New Zealand”, which measures philanthropy in New Zealand. The report found that New Zealanders are estimated to have given back $2.9billion in 2014 to charitable and community causes, which is around 1.17% of total GDP.

Philanthropic giving primarily comes from three sources: individuals; businesses; and trusts and foundations. The largest component of giving is personal giving, with 55% or $1.5billion having been gifted directly by individual New Zealanders through donations or bequests. Trusts and Foundations like Momentum Waikato Community Foundation accounted for 42% or $1.2billion of gifts granted to charitable and community causes in New Zealand.

What may surprise many is that business giving accounts for just 3% of the total $2.9billion that was given to good causes in 2014. That’s $77million, which represents a decrease of 22% on business giving since 2011. In defence of businesses, data also suggests that, for every $1 cash donation, businesses also gave $1.43 in sponsorship and $3.27 in-kind as donated goods and services. However there’s a significant opportunity for local businesses to get good in 2016. And there’s good reason to get good.

You may not think you have the time or the resources available for giving back to this community, but even if your business is still young and growing, giving back can be great for your bottom line. A recent survey found that, when faced with a choice between two companies that offered products and services for the same price, 82 per cent of customers said their decision would be affected by whether a company engaged with charities and its local community.

Here are five more ways that giving back can help your business:
1. Giving Back builds a loyal workforce
2. Giving Back creates excellent publicity
3. Giving Back builds respect and good reputation
4. Giving Back feel-good factor is good for you and your health
5. Giving Back helps the Waikato to be a better place to live and work

I predict that 2016 will be the year that Waikato businesses really get good!

Cheryl Reynolds
Chief Executive, Momentum Waikato