Kelvyn Eglinton, outgoing CEO of Momentum Waikato.

As the Waikato Regional Theatre rises out of the ground, the regional endowment fund approaches $44million while supporting an ever-growing range of causes, and Tirohanga Houchen Wellbeing Space begins delivering services to the community, I have been asked to reflect on which of Momentum Waikato’s achievements I am most proud of from my six years as its CEO.

My sense of satisfaction is not simply about the specific projects. It comes from seeing what is possible when a whole bunch of people are mobilised by the belief that philanthropy done differently can create real positive change for our community.

A governance board that takes risks and challenges the traditional philanthropic behaviour of conservative capital investment.

A team whose personal values align with the opportunity to do things differently, and then use their considerable skill and networks to achieve the challenges set by the board.

The donors and the members of trusts who trust Momentum Waikato. Who have created the thirty-eight specific funds that so far make up the regional endowment, and buy into the smarter way of giving as a way to make long-term change.

All are a part of creating ‘A better Waikato for everyone, forever’.

A major donor once told me that when they consider philanthropic ventures, as they do in their very successful business, they look for leadership with substance, an agency that will actually deliver, and a quality of outcome or product of which they will be proud. 

I believe that Momentum Waikato provides the vehicle to exceed those expectations.

Too often in philanthropy, the result of well-meaning generosity is another strategy, another report, another set of videos and campaigns, so as to appear to have at least done something, when really capability and aspiration are absent. Many agencies can talk about problems – far too few can deliver solutions.

In my first speech as CEO back in 2018, I spoke about how strategic philanthropy is increasingly filling the gap between market provision and the ability of central and local government to deliver their traditional services. 

Since then, the gap between the two ends of that spectrum have continued to widen, as the demand for services, knowledge and infrastructure only intensifies. A growing regional endowment fund matched with the capability to deliver transformational projects is the formula for ‘generosity that delivers’.  

I therefore take greatest pride in the fact that this model of strategic philanthropy – connecting and convening as the neutral non-partisan enabler between philanthropists, community funders, business and the state – has now made its initial mark in the Waikato.

There is much work still to do and the opportunities to introduce philanthropic capital to projects that create change are unending – wellness services, affordable housing, youth pathways, cultural facilities, environmental recovery… the list goes on.

Momentum Waikato’s initial steps in this space, bringing vision and capability to the table, is now well established as a legitimate and effective vehicle for change.

Because people cannot sleep in a strategy.

Kelvyn (left) with the Momentum team in Raglan, July 2023.