How to channel positivity to do good, Josh Hickford CEO Taranaki Foundation
Updated: Dec 8, 2022
Josh Hickford joins Purposely to share his story from chartered accountant to app creating cancer survivor and foundation leader.
Taranaki, where Josh was born, is on the western side of New Zealand’s North Island. Set on the coast, it has a strong farming industry alongside a talented creative fraternity with its fair share of artists and galleries. Its people are generous and community minded and inspired by the work of a worldwide network of community foundations, the founding trustees wanted to create an endowment for the region and boost charitable giving locally.
Established in 2016 as the Te Karaka Foundation the Board were looking to hire their first CEO in the middle of 2020, someone who would connect with people locally and work with them to superpower the foundation. Enter Taranaki born and bred Josh, a chartered accountant and social entrepreneur, Josh was encouraged to apply for the role by his wife citing his passion for the region as well as his recent experiences of doing good. Josh was the co-founder of Ripple, an online platform that helps to facilitate tailored support for people with cancer.
Shortlisted for ‘New Zealander of the Year’, Josh was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2017, it was his own cancer experience that inspired him to set up the platform.
‘I didn't come across anyone my age with same type of cancer. I also wanted to help those sitting alongside the person with cancer who often get forgotten or don’t receive the support they need’.
Five years on from his cancer diagnosis Josh was given a clean bill of health. During those years Josh kept pushing his boundaries, entering ironman competitions and featuring on the New Zealand version of the hit reality series Survivor.
He applied for the role of CEO of the Te Karaka Foundation.
‘I didn't really have a background in charity apart from the Cancer Society. I've been a chartered accountant, but the whole purpose and why of the job just aligned so much with what I'm about. It was vital that I was able to get in front of the trustees and share my passion’.
Bravely Josh delivered some ‘home truths’ to the trustees at the interview and this has led to the rebranding of the Foundation, from Te Karaka to Taranki, a name they believe connects well with the people of the region.
‘I paused and took a deep breath and I told them that the website was pretty mediocre and that the branding was confusing and not that inspiring, but that there was a big opportunity to flip that around and really ramp it up and go from there! What followed was silence and a pause but thankfully the trustees agreed. Everyone just probably relaxed a little bit after that as well and they gave me the role.’
The Foundation is embracing its new vision and looking forward to attracting more philanthropic funds to support the communities of Taranaki.
'My one goal for the foundation is that we become a household name. We want people talking about us at the pub, at the cafe and around the around the dinner table. If that happens we will deliver positive impact and change. So that's that's my personal mission for the foundation.'
So what can a community foundation do for you?
People and organisations can give to good causes through a community foundation in their life time or in perpetuity. Starting a fund with a community foundation can replicate the benefits of having your own charitable foundation without the hassle and all of the responsibility.
They are local, independent and not-for-profit. They run a well proven model of place-based philanthropy which has been growing across the world for over 100 years. Taranaki Foundation is one of 17 community Foundations covering almost all parts of New Zealand.
Community Foundations focus on a place and its people, strengthening communities from within and enabling local's aspirations for their community to take shape and they are governed by volunteer Boards.