Be the Change: Funding and Equity – Dunedin Community Builders

Dunedin Community Builders have announced their resource for community and funders, Be the Change: Funding and Equity. This resource comes from the kōrero that Dunedin Community Builders have heard from across the community and funding sectors over the last two years and more.

They are partnering with us to officially launch this resource with a community hui and lunch in Ōtepoti on Wednesday 28 September. The hui will have an exciting guest speaker – so please save the date and stay tuned for more details.

Hui E! Kaiwhakahaere Matua (Chief Executive) Rochelle Stewart-Allen contributed a foreword to the resource which you can read below.

Over the past two years, Aotearoa New Zealand has collectively witnessed incredible turmoil in our lives and those around us as the Covid-19 pandemic has taken hold. But we’ve also witnessed the urgent need for change across our institutions and the systems that are designed to support us.  

At the forefront of our nation’s Covid-19 response have been our tangata whenua, community and voluntary sector. Small and large community groups everywhere have tirelessly supported their communities, often sacrificing their personal time and energy to ensure those most in need were not without care. As well as ensuring the basics were covered (shelter, food, safety), our community workers and volunteers continued to offer a listening ear, found creative solutions to problems, entertained us, connected people, and shared a large amount of generosity and kindness with those who needed it.

Despite this resilience and ongoing commitment to care, Aotearoa’s community groups continue to face long-standing funding challenges. Our grassroots non-profits are diverse, varying in size, operating differently, and achieving variable outcomes. However, most community groups receive no or inadequate government funding to meet their service costs, and are heavily dependent on philanthropic funding, as well as their own fundraising efforts.

Many organisations struggle to meet basic running costs, let alone make sure they have reserves to see them through the challenges major issues like Covid-19 highlight. However, the competitive funding environment encourages organisations to keep accepting under-funded contracts. These ongoing issues meant that when Covid-19 hit, much of the sector already had limited resilience.

I’m so pleased to see Dunedin Community Builders releasing their ‘Be the Change: Funding and Equity‘ resource. It captures the funding challenges in Ōtepoti Dunedin over the past two years from those most impacted by our broken funding systems. What one community group experiences in Dunedin, another experiences in Kaitaia, and this resource’s clear, practical solutions offer a way forward across the motu for everyone.

At Hui E! Community Aotearoa, we are committed to working alongside Dunedin Community Builders to amplify this important taonga to ensure it reaches the right decision-makers. Our funding landscape needs collaboration, not competition. It’s long overdue to bring funders and community groups together for shared decision-making and power sharing. In the words of Gina Hu’akau, “You may hold the pūtea, but we hold the people”.

As this resource points out, we need to improve our funding models to be more responsive to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, more equitably distributed, and significantly easier to access. Let’s not waste the lessons we’ve learnt from Covid-19, otherwise we will need to learn them again the next time around. Let’s take this opportunity to make the systemic shifts so desperately needed so that, collectively and collaboratively, we may better serve the wellbeing of Aotearoa’s communities.

Dunedin Community Builders is an informal, volunteer-run network of organisations, groups and people from across the community sector in Ōtepoti. One of the planks of their mahi is to look at how funding systems can be shifted to create change and equity.