Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

PartnersNovember 16, 2022

Why Vodafone wants to change how we do charity

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

A new digital platform is removing the barriers to charitable donations by giving users access to corporate cash, and the choice of which charity to donate it to.

Speaking from the slopes of Queenstown’s Coronet Peak, Te Tapu o Tāne Chief Executive Jana Davis is busy getting ready for a weekend of planting trees. And not just any trees, but thousands of native trees sourced from the organisation’s new Invercargill nursery. He says it’s all part of a larger, more ambitious scheme to reforest the maunga with its native cloak – a scheme that’s been described as one of the largest and most visible restoration projects in Aotearoa to date. 

“We’re going to try and do the whole front face of the mountain [planting more than 300,000 native trees] over the next four or five years,” says Davis ahead of the scheme’s October launch event which saw more than 300 volunteers gather for replanting on Coronet Peak. “So this is really just the beginning.”

As well as running native plant nurseries and taking part in large-scale restoration projects across the Murihuku (Southland) region, one of Te Tapu o Tāne’s key aims as an iwi-led group is to provide career pathways for rangatahi through its environmental work. With support from Te Rourou, Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation’s Thriving in Murihuku fund, the organisation is currently running a 12-month pilot programme focused on engaging rangatahi in employment, skills development and connection to te taiao. But as the programme goes on, Davis admits things could always be better as costs quickly stack up over time.

“There are a lot of things that are quite annoying to pay for, so we’ll be putting our share from One Good Kiwi into making this programme bigger and better, and potentially getting some laptops for the kids,” he says “Just more things to make this programme a little bit more fun on the ground.”

Jana Davis from Te Tapu o Tāne (Image: Supplied)

One Good Kiwi builds on the business’ philanthropic work of Te Rourou, Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation. It is a separate entity from the Foundation, however many of the charities featured have ties and relationships with Te Rourou, Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation. The premise for One Good Kiwi – described as “a new digital giving platform” – is simple: every month, charities featured on the app will get a share of $100,000, decided by the number of “tokens” it receives from One Good Kiwi users. Anyone can participate, with 10 tokens allocated to each user every month to give out to their choice of good causes. 

At the end of the month, the money will be divvied up accordingly (at a minimum, each charity will get $1,000 regardless of how many tokens they get) and a new line-up of charities will step up for another round of $100,000: a total of $1.2 million being donated to charitable causes every year. 

With research from Vodafone (soon to be One New Zealand) finding that four out of five New Zealanders would be willing to support an initiative which provided funds and gave them the ability to choose which causes that money went to (with mental health, youth empowerment and environmental causes topping the list as being considered most important), One Good Kiwi was born as a way to help people engage in charitable giving despite the mounting financial barriers faced by so many today. 

“With One Good Kiwi, we remove that barrier since users don’t have to pay or financially contribute at all to take part,” says Juliet Jones, Chief Transformation Officer at Vodafone. “We also know that people these days are time poor, so having an app makes it really easy for people to participate simply through their phones.”

Te Tapu o Tāne team at their new native plant nursery, Te Kōhaka o Tāne (Image: Supplied)

“At the same time, it’s also engaging and informing. In the app you’ve got real people doing real things in our community right now telling you about their story and work in these short video clips, which feels much more like a personal interaction.”

In addition to the financial incentive for charities, participating in One Good Kiwi also provides another invaluable benefit: exposure. For an organisation like Te Tapu o Tāne, which was only established 18 months ago, Davis says being featured on the platform marks “the first step in telling our story” to a wider audience.

“Having support to tell our story is a really big part of the kaupapa, these opportunities are invaluable through One Good Kiwi and the Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation,” he says.

“But what stood out for me the most with the One Good Kiwi app is it’s a different way for the community to look at what they value in an easily accessible way. We’re talking about money, but really I think we’re talking about value, with the real message being: ‘how do we create more value in the community?’ That’s something I think One Good Kiwi helps to communicate to all of our different audiences.”

Since its launch at the end of September – coinciding with Vodafone NZ’s announcement that it will be transforming into One NZ from next year – One Good Kiwi has already had an enormous response with more than 8,000 downloads of the app and more than 100,000 tokens given out to charities so far. 

Organisations involved with One Good Kiwi in its first month include bullying prevention organisation Sticks’n’Stones, mental health support service Youthline, homelessness prevention group Visionwest and advocates for children in foster or whānau care VOYCE Whakarongo Mai. While these charities all work in a diverse range of sectors, ultimately, they all share a common goal – to support better outcomes for rangatahi in Aotearoa.

Jones believes that tackling systemic issues and working with community partners is the best way to address the complex challenges young people face, whether that be in health, education, employment, racism and more. One Good Kiwi has been designed to meet New Zealanders where they are, allowing them to participate in charitable giving at no cost to themselves. Every Kiwi wants to do good in their communities but the cost of living, income inequality and lack of time are all barriers which prevent them from participating in the traditional charity system. 

The company is hopeful that New Zealanders will grab this opportunity with both hands to give back to their communities.

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