Strategic changes from the Foundation

The Vodafone Foundation has been operating for more than 25 years globally and 15 years locally. Over that time, we’ve invested more than $25 million in NZ communities.

For the last 12 years we’ve been focused exclusively on youth development and the World of Difference has been our flagship programme, supporting more than 100 World of Difference recipients and Fellows and all of them have been incredible.

We’re incredibly proud of what we do and we’re incredibly proud of the impact our community partners have had. Their work has had a consistent and powerful impact on the well- being of young people all around the country. But after 12 years, we thought it was time to re-examine our approach. We had three key questions – is our funding moving the dial for our most excluded and disadvantaged? Are we generating the best outcomes for the sector and our recipients? And are we bringing what is uniquely ours to the table – are we leveraging the power of Vodafone?

Over the last 6 months, we’ve run 5 stakeholder hui around the country, commissioned a literature review of successful interventions, a social psychology project looking at alumni, an economic analysis and an evaluation of our historic work. We wanted to involve our community, our partners and independent researchers in the strategy review process.

We discovered a lot – and a lot of it was good. People love our focus on sector leadership and on building strong relationships, the alumni network we’ve built is considered an invaluable resource and our flexible, responsive funding is generating positive outcomes. People expressed a desire to see us do more to leverage the power of Vodafone, tackle the harder issues and support more collaborative work.

We also found some unintended consequences hidden within our work. Our social psychology study found that our recipients have incredibly high levels of care and compassion for their communities, but lower levels of resilience. Combining these two characterstics with the individually focused, time-bound World of Difference funding, has contributed to burn-out and poor self-care among some of our recipients. And that’s not what we want.

Jo Christie – Human Resources Business Partner, Vodafone New Zealand

Our new strategy will see changes to our funding models and changes to our focus that are designed to improve our practices, support our partners and generate real, sustainable change for our most excluded and disadvantaged young people. Our new strategy will also see us bring what is uniquely ours to the table – including the skills, expertise and global influence of Vodafone.

Our big hairy audacious goal remains the same – we want to see all young people in New Zealand living lives they value. But we’re stepping up our game. We want our focus to be narrower and our commitment to be bigger. Our aspiration is to have an Aotearoa New Zealand where all young people are able to thrive. According to Treasury data there are 210,000 children and young people who don’t have access to the resources and opportunities they need to grow into the great adults they want to be.

We embarking on a 10 year, $20 million journey to transform the lives of these 210,000 young people. Our aim is to halve the number of young people at risk by 2027.

It’s an ambitious goal. We know we’ll have to change our behaviour in order to do it.

We’ll need to take a longer-term view: the problems these young people face are complex and complicated – there are no easy or fast solutions and making short-term grants isn’t going to cut it. That’s why we’re committing $20 million and 10 years to thinking and acting in this space.

We also can’t do it alone. We want to work together, focusing on collaborative action and on constant learning. We will be guided by research, by community feedback, by our incredible World of Difference alumni and by our expert advisory network and we will continue to develop and iterate as we go.

And we intend to bring what is uniquely ours to the table. As the Vodafone Foundation we can leverage a global telecommunications company, with its huge human resources, specialised business, network and technology expertise.

Murray Osborne – Head of Public Sector, Vodafone New Zealand

The new strategy also means changing our funding models and our funding focus – to take into account what we’ve learnt and point us in the direction we intend to go.

Our new funding streams will aim to generate impacts in five key areas. We want to create better outcomes for:
– Youth who have interacted with the justice system, themselves, or via their caregivers;
– Young people who have had interactions with Child Youth and Family or Oranga Tamariki;
– Young people who are not engaged in meaningful learning;
– Rangatahi Maori;
– and young people who are long term beneficiaries.

That doesn’t necessarily mean focusing on programmes working directly with those young people, but on the systems, environments, contexts and ecosystems that wrap around and contain their lives.

We’ll be doing this with through funding programmes focused on innovation, collaboration and disruption, and we’ll be using a lens of constant learning and iteration.

INNOVATIVE: Our innovation fund will focus on an innovation pipeline approach, with seed, pilot and scale funding that will move and shift according to the needs of the recipients. We’ll have varied funding amounts and multiple grant rounds each year, allowing organisations to move through the pipeline based on their timelines, not ours. And we’ll be focused on using our technology to create positive change.

Our first call for applications will begin on the 1st of June and we hope to see our World of Difference Alumni and new community partners in the mix.

Our Innovation approach will also see us work alongside Vodafone Xone to pilot a community accelerator that will rapidly develop, test and disseminate technology based solutions for community problems.


Lani Evans – Manager, Vodafone New Zealand Foundation

COLLABORATIVE & DISRUPTIVE: Our collaboration and disruption funds will see us continue to fund Voyce Whakarongo Mai in partnership with Oranga Tamariki, Tindall, Todd and Foundation North and continue to work with Wayne Francis Charitable Trust, Te Ora Hou and Alternative Education Consortium on building better outcomes for young people in alternative education.

We’ll be working with our advisory network, alumni whanau, government and wider community to set additional priority areas for the year ahead.

ITERATIVE: We also aim to be a learning organisation. We want to tackle wicked problems – the complex, complicated, intergenerational issues that affect our most excluded and disadvantaged youth. There are no easy or obvious solutions and, as we move forward, we’ll undoubtedly come up against the boundaries of our own knowledge. We want to keep pushing our learning edges, thinking, exploring and bringing the voices of sector experts and lived experience into the room.

We’re going to get it wrong. And hopefully we’re also going to get it right.

As we move forward, we’re going to be leveraging the power of the business via our technology, our people, our ability to influence and our ability to motivate and galvanise a movement for change

This is an ambitious goal. But if philanthropy, community, government and business come together and we all bring our unique resources to the table, whether those be financial or expertise, we believe we can do it. And in fact, we believe that it’s our obligation to try.