Aucklanders to Benefit from Million Dollar Grant to Community Programmes

Thousands of Aucklanders are expected to benefit from a charitable initiative which saw $1million donated to almost 50 organisations - covering a range of environmental, educational and health charities.

Over the course of three weeks, 200,000 votes were cast which saw 48 groups secure funding for their projects, with some charities raising thousands of dollars a day by coordinating their supporters to go online.

The Million Dollar Mission is an initiative developed by social enterprise 'The Trusts' West Auckland, which redistributes the profits from the retail sales of food and beverages through its hospitality venues and off-license outlets around the region.

New Zealanders were able to vote online for the cause of their choice with each vote providing $5 to the group to help complete projects of benefit to the local community.

Simon Wickham CEO of The Trusts says environmental and youth charities were some of the biggest winners in this year's round of funding with their combined donations reaching more than $424,000.

Aucklanders to Benefit from Million Dollar Grant to Community Programmes 1
Simon Wickham

EcoMatters a sustainable living charity which supports the community with knowledge reduce waste received more than $22,000 to help them collect donated bikes for reuse.

The Waitakere Ranges Protection Society, was another of the environmental charities to receive its funding. The group works to protect biodiversity in the area and conducts native planting around local waterways. A local kindergarten will use its donations to install equipment to meet their sustainability goals and Project Litefoot Trust, will use the funding to install energy efficient materials in local clubs.

Other beneficiary charities included the Upside Downs education trust which helps children with Down syndrome in the area learn to read, write, speak and sign; and Youthline has been given a boost of $10,000 to help support youth and their families in the area.

The Million Dollar Mission is in its third year of operation and has provided $3million in funding to almost 100 community groups since it began.

The Trusts, is a business which has exclusive rights to retail liquor in the West Auckland region. Formed in 1972, it is the largest of the entities of its kind in NZ and is tasked with reinvesting profits from the sale of alcohol back into community programmes, grants and sponsorships.

Wickham says the million dollar charitable initiative is an example of how the licensing model is able to support charities while at the same time better manage the sale of alcohol.

Past initiatives have included the multi-million dollar support for The Trusts Stadium and the provision of free smoke alarms and fire extinguishers to every resident in the region.

"Most of the profits from liquor sales around NZ are retained by store owners. Under the model we operate within, the proceeds are returned to the community," he says.

Wickham says the causes were chosen by a judging panel including Linda Vagana and Sir Bob Harvey who selected 48 finalists from over 100 applicants.

Daniel Rolph

Journalist

Journalist

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