Bill Holland’s personal commitment and passion for driving the Community Foundation movement in the Bay of Plenty and across New Zealand saw the establishment of Acorn Foundation in Tauranga in 2003, and Community Foundations of New Zealand in 2012. Today, Acorn is a leader in promoting philanthropic giving. It has over $12 million invested and is distributing more than $500,000 in 2015 to a wide range of community groups.
1. Why do you do what you do?
I support Community Foundations because they not only encourage the culture of giving, but through their endowment funds also make giving more meaningful and effective.
2. What drives you to work for the good of the community?
I have always believed that the greatest asset of any community is the good people in it. I want to support these good people, and the financial assistance through Community Foundations gives that support.
3. Have you always been interested in making a difference?
Most people I know, and certainly the people I want to know, have a deep desire to make a positive difference during their lives. I share that desire.
4. Did you come from a family where giving to the community/environment was important or encouraged?
I came from a fairly typical New Zealand family. Like most New Zealanders they have all done their share of helping others and the community, giving both time and financial support.
5. What does giving mean to you and why is it important?
I believe that we all have a duty to help those less fortunate than ourselves. We can do this by giving of our time and resources. All giving brings the same sense of satisfaction.
6. How do you feel when you realise you have made a difference to someone else’s life/our country for the better?
This obviously varies in extent depending on the circumstances, but knowing that someone’s life has been significantly changed for the better can bring absolute joy.
7. Who inspires you?
The people who need help, as well as those who give help, are those who inspire me.
8. Who have you learned from and what is one key thing they have taught you?
I have learned from many people over the years. The consistent message I have learned is: ‘Do what is right’.
9. What challenges have you faced along the way?
I was frustrated for most of my life with the view that philanthropy was for the wealthy. In our egalitarian society this sometimes had negative connotations. I am pleased to see that in recent times attitudes have changed. There is a growing awareness that philanthropy is for everyone and you do not need to be rich to be generous.
10. And what keeps you going?
I have been very fortunate to have so many good things that keep me going. The joy from helping others (both those known to me and those I do not know) is just one of those good things.
I was frustrated for most of my life with the view that philanthropy was for the wealthy … I am pleased to see that in recent times attitudes have changed. There is a growing awareness that philanthropy is for everyone and you do not need to be rich to be generous.