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Trust grants top $2 million

A Masterton charitable trust has had a twofold increase in its annual grants funding, reaching its unprecedented target of more than $2 million this year.

Formed in 1872 out of the Small Farms Association, Masterton Trust Lands Trust [MTLT] distributes profits from its commercial property rental income to the community in the form of grants for educational, arts, cultural, and other activities.

“This is money our community can rely on, and funding for grants will increase each year,” MTLT chair Christine Brewster said, adding that “$2 million for grants funding in 2024 marks the culmination of a six year journey to build financial resilience”.

In 2019, the Trust embarked on its six-year plan, which initially included navigating costs associated with structural design issues in several of its properties and soon also involved economic pressures caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

Despite these challenges, MTLT’s annual average grants funding of $1 million had climbed to $1.5 million in 2022, its 150th year.

This year, annual grants funding has reached $2.274 million.

MTLT donations have benefited the Wairarapa Woodworkers Guild, which received a $10,000 community grant to upgrade equipment.

The Oasis Charitable Trust Wairarapa received a $4000 community grant to provide instructor safety training and restore indoor rock climbing for Wairarapa youth.

The Trust also provides support for community groups like Masterton’s Foodbank by providing rent-free premises.

“Our aim was twofold: increase grants funding to support our Masterton communities and secure its growth for the future,” Brewster said.

“It’s heartening to know the work has paid off for the people of Masterton.

“The driver behind the Trust’s strategic plan was to ensure the Trust’s legacy of community service could not only endure but thrive.”

MTLT general manager Andrew Croskery said the “key” to the annual grants increase has involved being “active in paying down debt”.

From 2017-2018, financial debt levels were $29 million; by 2022-23, debt levels had been reduced by about $11.5 million, Croskery said.

“The debt is predominantly paid off by revenue. Gross revenue is in the order of $7 million per year.”

The Trust leases 65 properties to more than 90 local, national, and international tenants.

Applications for MTLT’s community grants are now open and close on June 30. The Trust offers two types of community grants – ‘grassroots’ up to $5000 and ‘impact’ up to $20,000. For more information about MTLT’s grants and to apply online, visit www.mtlt.org.nz

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