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Community Loans

Community loans help us to extend the reach of our traditional grant-making. We consider loans for community organisations as a way of producing measurable social impact and they allow us to recycle our capital to assist other projects. They also provide organisations with access to capital that might otherwise not be available.

Community loans are not grants and therefore our loans must be repaid.

If you have any questions about Community Loans ring 0800 500 185 or email

Can you apply?

For purpose (non-profit) organisations that are a legal entity and operating in our area - Southland, Queenstown, Glenorchy, Arrowtown, Tapanui and Heriot can apply including:

  • An incorporated society or an incorporated charitable trust. You can check if you are incorporated at Societies & Trusts 
  • A company with charitable purposes that is registered with Charities Services
  • Entities established under the following Local Government Act 2002, Maori Trust Boards Act 1955 or Education Act 1989

(Registration with Charities Services does not mean your organisation is a legal entity)

The following organisations can’t apply:

  • Individuals
  • Commercial and for profit organisations
  • Political or advocacy/lobby groups

What we support

Our loans support a wide range of new and existing projects and facilities across our four strategic pou (pillars).

Health, Wellbeing & Active Lifestyles

Working with communities to ensure people participate, are supported, empowered and cared for.

Art, Heritage & Culture

Working with communities to ensure people participate, celebrate, and preserve our arts, heritage and culture.


Working with communities to ensure every person has the opportunity to achieve their potential.


Within these four pou (pillars) we have specific priorities we want our funding to support, and your application will be stronger if you can meet some of these. 

Please see Our Strategic Vision for details on our priorities within each pou.

What we don't fund

The following types of organisations and activities can't apply for loan funding:

  • Individuals
  • Political or lobby groups
  • Commercial and for profit organisations except in instances such as social enterprises
  • Government agencies and activities that are primarily the responsibility of local or central government or other funding agencies
  • Activities which are inconsistent with the Trust's Purposes
  • Debt servicing i.e. retiring or restructuring existing debt
  • Retrospective projects
  • Religious instruction, lobbying or education
  • Loans for projects outside our area unless there is a very clear and demonstrated community benefit to the people of our area

Principles and Criteria

We consider and manage community loans based on the following principles and criteria.

  • The primary objective of a loan must be to accomplish a charitable purpose and aligned to Our Strategic Vision
  • Loans are to provide a social and financial return
  • In total loans will not exceed 5% of the Trust's equity
  • The maximum for any one loan is $2.5 million 
  • The maximum repayment period of a loan is 10 years
  • All loans are formally executed and secured, and may be subject to other conditions
  • Interest rates will be set on a case-by-case, based on the official cash rate as well as being guided by affordability, community benefit and financial return
  • Occasionally interest free loans may be considered and the social return on any such such loan will be determined
  • Organisations will be liable for their own legal costs
  • Strength of alignment to our strategic vision and contribution to one or more of our funding priorities
  • A clear understanding of the identified need, gap or opportunity
  • Awareness of current and future trends in the field the loan relates to
  • Degree that the project complements other existing local or regional initiatives
  • Level of community benefit - projects for the exclusive benefit of a limited number of people will be a lower priority
  • Capability, capacity and credibility of the organisation's governance and management, and ability to deliver
  • Level and strength of community support
  • Demonstrated connections, consultation and/or partnerships such as with communities, between organisations, across levels within sectors or across sectors
  • Extent that alternative funding sources have been explored and secured i.e. all other sources of funding have been exhausted 
  • Ongoing viability and sustainability of the project in the longer term
  • Extent of understanding of the likely outcomes and community benefit and how this will be measured
  • Project responsibility
  • Risks associated with project
  • Value of securable assets, organisational debt, net assets and cashflows
  • Demonstrated ability to meet loan repayments within specified timeframes 

Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT)

Aotearoa New Zealand has a law called the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT) and Community Trust South must comply with its requirements.

Also as part of what the AML/CFT calls “customer due diligence” we must obtain and verify certain details and information about your organisation including the people associated with it (e.g. directors and shareholders, trustees and beneficiaries). 

Verified documents will be required to confirm these details. Refer to our Identification and Address verification requirements.

If you're not able to provide the required information, it is unlikely we will be able to consider your application for a community loan.

How to apply

Stage One

Discuss your project with our General Manager.  

Stage Two

Loan Application (by invitation only)

This is made online. If you haven’t applied before you need to register by providing your name, organisation and email address as well as creating a password – it only  takes a moment!

Once registered you will be sent a link and instructions on how to access the loan application. You will be able to log in at any time to access your application and to help you prepare you can also download the application form so you can see what questions we ask.  

Stage Three

Due diligence and Funding Decision

Thorough due diligence, that  also may involve third parties, is undertaken by our General Manager and Investment Committee to support trustees in making an informed decision on your loan request.

Stage Four

Loan Agreement

This is a formal contract between Community Trust South (the lender) and your organisation (the borrower).

How we assess applications

Your application will be reviewed and assessed from a social impact point of view as well as assessing the likely financial return.

We typically consider the following but this may vary depending on your type of organisation, nature of project and amount of loan being requested:

  • extent that the project is aligned with our strategic plan and priorities
  • level of established knowledge and funding history with your organisation
  • potential for significant measurable social impact and likely level of anticipated social returns
  • other avenues of financial support that have been explored and exhausted
  • financial feasibility
  • level of financial risk i.e. potential to lose some or all our investment
  • identifiable sources of repayment and capacity to pay back loan
  • assessment of lost opportunity

When will you hear back

Given the due diligence requirements associated with our community loans we can’t  provide you with a definite time frame for decisions. However, we will let you know likely timeframes.