The new fundraising model helping Christchurch kids


Mitch Shaw is an ex Youth Worker with a big heart and an even bigger vision. He’s founded UpstreamNZ, a digital business directory that generates funding for children’s charities.

Mitch shares his experience of working as a manager in a Youth Work organisation. “I needed to be fundraising $50 – $100,000 each year, above and beyond the grant funding we received,” Mitch says. “When I couldn’t meet those targets I had to let go of staff.

“The typical fundraising model is the same for schools, trusts and charities. And it relies on people and organisations to give stuff for free – whether that’s their time, product or money.”

New Zealand is the third most giving country in the world according to the World Giving Index. Yet, New Zealanders give, on average, just 0.003% of their income to charity. That’s $156 of the median income of $52,000.

There are 27,000 charities in New Zealand and they’re all fighting for that $156.

“I knew there had to be a better, more sustainable way for charities to fundraise,” says Mitch.

James Harris is the Manager at CDN Trust, a youth work organisation that runs camps for kids and teens who are at risk or need support.

James and Mitch have been friends and colleagues for a long time and together they came up with the idea of UpstreamNZ

“For me, it was about looking long term at how we were going to be sustainable. There’s a lot more that CDN can do and a lot more need in the community than traditional funding can support,” James says. “In the long term, if we’re going to step up to do the things we need to do, we need to get creative with funding.”

So how does UpstreamNZ work?

“UpstreamNZ connects people who want to make their dollar do good. They’re going to spend their money anyway, UpstreamNZ allows that dollar to create a positive community impact instead,” Mitch explains.

“Whether you’re looking for an electrician, accountant, builder, IT consultant, or anything in between, we have a directory of businesses who will contribute a portion of what you pay to the UpstreamNZ approved children’s charities,” explains Mitch. “It’s a win/win/win situation. You win by knowing your dollar is doing good, the business wins by getting a new customer, and the charity wins by benefiting from the contribution.”

Business IT Solutions Ltd is one of the businesses involved in UpstreamNZ. Managing Director, Alexander Brouwer, is a big fan of the UpstreamNZ model. “I love the feel good factor of just knowing that you’re involved in something that’s a really positive thing. As a busy person, especially running a small business, you feel like you’re contributing something without all the extra work.”

What’s the real impact of UpstreamNZ?

James Harris’ organisation CDN Trust uses their UpstreamNZ funding to provide better support to the young people of Christchurch.

“There’s a lot of young people that need support. There’s a lot of kids who maybe don’t have someone in their life that they’d call “Mum” or “Dad”. Many of the young people that we work with are maybe being raised by grandparents,” explains James.

“We’ve been able to add an additional youth worker on the East side of Christchurch. Their main focus is helping those kids get plugged into their community and get involved in youth activities locally.”

Mitch recently received a letter from the mother of a young person helped by UpstreamNZ funding.

“I’m so grateful for the funding of the sessions for my daughter. I don’t know how I would have been able to benefit her wellbeing and how she would have handled some really traumatic recent events without access to this funding,” this Christchurch mother writes.

How to help?

Individuals or businesses looking for a new local contractor or supplier should check out the UpstreamNZ business directory first. It costs nothing extra but could make all the difference to children and young people in Christchurch.