This fund supports innovative projects that lead to enduring transformational change and enable greater impact compared to current practices and existing approaches.

Total Fund: $1.0 million

Apply: Any time up until 31 March 2019

If you have any questions about our Innovation Fund ring 0800 500 185 or email

Can you apply?

Non-profit organisations that are a legal entity and operating in our area 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 Local Government Act 2002, Maori Trust Boards Act 1955 or Education Act 1989

(Registration with Charities Services doesn’t mean your organisation is a legal entity).

The following organisations can’t apply:

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

What if you aren’t a legal entity?

You can only apply for up to $2,000 and you will need to have a set of rules, minutes of meetings and have a bank account in your group’s name. Otherwise you will need to work with a Funding Partner to apply.

Contact us to talk about your options.

What we fund

Projects and activities that encourage transformative change and greater social impact for people and communities.

We are looking for out-of-the-box projects, fresh approaches, creative ideas, new solutions and for a vision of doing things differently.

Our grants support the following stages of innovation:

  • Research, development and feasibility
  • Testing/Piloting
  • Delivering and implementing
  • Scaling up

What we don't fund

Types of organisations we don’t fund

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

Types of projects and activities we don’t fund

  • Capital projects or facilities
  • The generating ideas stage of innovation
  • Projects/activities outside our area unless there is a clear benefit to our community
  • Repeat requests for the same project i.e. increases in project costs or funding shortfalls
  • Projects that have already commenced or has been completed
  • Events or activities that are primarily being held to fundraise
  • Religious instruction, lobbying or education
  • Projects that are primarily for private/personal financial benefit
  • Travel, accommodation and uniforms for sports teams
  • Mowers and other items of capital maintenance equipment for golf and bowling clubs
  • Curriculum activities in schools
  • Boarding school hostels
  • School capital projects and maintenance items
  • Centenaries, jubilees and reunions
  • Earthquake strengthening
  • Debt repayments
  • Sponsorships
  • Endowments

How to apply

Stage One

Discussion with our Grants Manager to clarify expectations and processes.

Stage Two

Expressions of Interest (EOI) are accepted any time and on an ongoing basis between 15 August 2016 and 31 March 2019, subject to funds available.

EOIs are made online and 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 able to log in at any time to start an EOI or to access it again later so you can  work on it over time.  To help you prepare you can also download the application form so you can see the questions we ask.

Stage Three

Full applications (by invitation only) require detailed and specific information about your project.

These are made online and, if your EOI has been successful, you will be sent a link and instructions on how to access the full application form. To help you prepare you can also download the form so you can see the questions we ask.

Stage Four

Trustees consider your application and make a decision.

Stage Five

A funding agreement (if successful) will be developed including detailed, specific grant conditions, evaluation and accountability requirements.

Milestones relating to grant payments will be determined in collaboration with successful applicants.

EOI Apply Now

How we assess applications

We carry out an initial review of your EOI to ensure you can apply.

Trustees then decide if your organisation will be invited to submit a Full Grant Application.

Our staff then review your application to help trustees to make an informed decision. We will often contact you to ask further questions about your project or application.

What we look for 

The following need to be demonstrated:

  • Clear evidence of a shift in mindset - greater strategic, system level or transformational thinking
  • How the project is not a business as usual approach
  • Potential for significant/transformational change
  • Clear understanding of the need, issue, challenge or opportunity
  • Clear understanding of how people/communities will benefit, the level of benefit and the likely outcomes and depth of impact
  • Understanding of existing initiatives and good practice - evidence base
  • Level of evidence that supports the stage of innovation
  • Commitment to collective action i.e. not undertaken in isolation, but rather a willingness to connect and work with others
  • Consideration has been given to evaluation, to identify what works and likely impacts, and evidence of a commitment to learning, refinement and improvement e.g. an evaluation strategy or adequate plan for evaluation
  • Capability and credibility of those involved to deliver
  • Likely long term sustainability without ongoing Trust funding
  • Potential for broader application/transferability/upscaling
  • Strong willingness to share lessons learned (successes, challenges and failures)

When will you hear back?

Expressions of Interest

Decisions are generally made within 8 weeks of receiving your EOI.

Full applications

Decisions are generally be made within four months of receiving your full application.


If your application is successful we will discuss and determine requirements in consultation with you and these will then be detailed as part of a grant funding agreement. Read our Managing Your Funding for more information.

If your application is unsuccessful the email will outline the reasons for your application being declined.