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A new lease of life for a small trust doing great work.

Following Rua Steven’s untimely death from leukaemia, husband Clarrie and son Lee were determined to make something of their grief at losing their community-spirited wife and mother. So, together they founded the Rua Stevens Memorial Trust from their hometown of Dunedin in 1970.

The trust started small, but fast forward more than forty years later, and through wise investments and cash gifts from Lee himself, the Rua and Clarrie Stevens Charitable Trust has continued to grow and is the lynchpin for many young, dynamic community organisations.

Lee’s wife Penny is now part of the trust and together they have resettled it with the Auckland Foundation. With all the compliance and administration taken care of for them, Lee and Penny are freed up to continue building relationships with existing and new organisations doing great, innovative work in our communities.

Lee and Penny’s advice for small philanthropists:

  • Take risks with your philanthropic dollar, where else will they get it? Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, something else will pay off.
  • Support organisations that work in areas to which you feel an emotional connection.
  • Support local organisations, so you can get in your car and have a look at what they’re doing.
  • Help start-ups become sustainable: paying salaries is important. “Especially small charities – you need to back them and encourage them,” says Lee.
  • Support small organisations where you can really see the benefits: “On a small scale you actually see the development and you get more pleasure,” says Penny. “With a small organisation like ours you’re better to support smaller organisations where the money’s more relevant,” says Lee. “When you’re small, a small grant is significant.”
  • Don’t get bogged down in the detail: use organisations like the Auckland Foundation to manage and administer your fund while you enjoy the relationships and outcomes.
  • Get a team around you who you trust, and support what you believe in. “With Auckland Foundation, you’re not on your own, you’ve got a wonderful team there you can talk to. If you’ve got something to discuss, they’ve got the skills and the knowledge to talk about it with you.”
  • Get to know your beneficiaries and take an interest. “We always say to them ‘we want to hear things that aren’t working, we don’t just want the good stuff’.