I have four years of financial year (31 March) data, from 2014 through to 2017.
One of the challenges in doing this sort of thing is making the right comparisons. For example, large amounts spent on capital items can skew the results. And Special Funds, like the post earthquake monies, can make year by year viewing a bit tricky. So I have excluded capex and special funds from the numbers below. I have also classified all the grants by (mostly) Rata’s old classification methodology, to try to put groups in meaningful buckets.
The chart below looks at where operational money for Canterbury has gone for the past four years. The biggest loser here seems to be Education (grey): if I look at the quantum the spend has halved over four years. This appears to have come from grants to schools: primary schools are down from almost $900k in 2014 to just under $180k in 2017, and secondary have gone from just over quarter of a mil in 2014 down to pretty much nil in the last year. Interestingly, preschools have jumped, albeit off a small base, of $181k in 2014, up to almost $340k in 2017. Whether this reduction is a function of no need, easier money elsewhere, or declines, is unknown, as Rata do not publish their declines. There is a small increase in spend last year in environmental, and perhaps slightly more to Community at the expense of social services and sport.
Ah sport. Still going to the usual suspects: Sport Canterbury get a fair whack, as do others who organise things like events. Middle class subsidies abound: cricket is the number one code receiving $185k in 2017, and just under $500k over the past four years (excluding capital), followed by league. Swimming is next: driven by a healthy contribution to the Council for their learn to swim programme (still, only equates to one FTE). I expected to see Bowls in the top ten takers of funding and was surprised its came in at 11, although one club (Parklands) did get $400k of building funding which I have excluded. Basketball and Gymnastics got just over $100k, and Golf received $80k from Rata.
Community and Economic Development is an interesting “catch all” bucket. In here are all of the post earthquake groups, and again its apparent that they will be feeling a funding squeeze: money into those groups down this year to $133k (down from a high of $370k).
This is showing what the data hinted at a year ago: yes, that things have changed. Fewer organisations are getting funded. Those getting money are getting larger on average amounts. Rata looks to be funding fewer groups in Arts and Heritage, Education, Social Services, Sport and Young People. And, except in sport, the average grant is up a bit. The list of those who are declined is not provided, so it’s uncertain as to whether this is driven by groups not applying, or groups being declined.
But, just between you and me, the biggest change is yet to come. You may recall that board appointments are made by Government, and you also may recall that we had an election last year. A very wise gentleman once told me that the most effective Community Trust Boards were those with a mix of both opposition and government appointees. I guess we will see the impact of this in a year or two – it will be interesting to keep an eye on funding to the various sporting codes (especially cricket!).
I do think it’s important for us to understand the funding ecosystem, as the allocation decisions are made on our community’s behalf. And, with many of New Zealand’s over 100k NFPs crying out for more cash, it’s fairly important that we, as a community, keep a vigilant eye on where our money goes – and what’s achieved from that spend.
Love to talk with you if you think this is at all interesting. Check out my website www.delfi.co.nz.