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Kindness is a
dynamic two-way exchange


Well this is a thing! We’re super proud of instigating this research project and we love that we found the amazing team at  MartinJenkins to lead it for us.

But why?

We had an idea last year that it was important for us to think about why we develop programmes - is it to make us look and feel good, or is it to support the work of other organisations? We decided the second was a better reason to do anything but were also clear that we don’t know everything about kindness and how it’s useful (we know some stuff for sure) so a research project seemed like a good approach to finding out how our work could be useful to others’ work.

Our big question evolved from a *really* big question (what does ‘kindness’ mean to different communities) into a more practical one:  what is the role of kindness from the perspective of community services organisations in Aotearoa NZ? 

The project was supported by a sector advisory group of nine people with a wealth of collective experience across the community services sector. 258 individuals who work for, or volunteer with, wide ranging community services organisations (CSOs) in Aotearoa New Zealand participated in 50 in-depth interviews and 208 survey responses. The project team also referenced a literature review Allen & Clarke did for us in 2020.

What did we learn?


But the TL/DR version:

  • Kindness is a dynamic, two-way exchange that is both integral to the survival and effectiveness of CSOs, and that CSOs themselves have a critical role in fostering kindness within society.

  • Kindness is a many-faceted concept that permeates all aspects of the community services sector.

  • Kindness has two important roles for CSOs: programmes that contribute to delivery of strategic objectives for clients, and  programmes that put values into action.

  • The barriers to CSOs delivering more kindness programmes can be overcome through clear logic, dedicated funding, meaningful partnerships, and careful design.

What can *you* do with this report?

Also heaps!


CSOs can:

  • Carry on doing what you are doing – your kindness is important mahi that is seen by more people than you think. 

  • Unpack what kindness means in your organisation, and what it looks like in action if it is reframed as a dynamic, two-way exchange.

  • Consider how you currently use kindness (to achieve strategic objectives and to put values into action) – and what opportunities may exist to do this more. 

  • Clearly articulate the role of kindness in achieving your programme objectives.


Intermediaries can:

  • Raise awareness of kindness as an intervention.

  • Explore further the possible perception that some people are less deserving of kindness, and how this perception may impact the use of kindness programmes.

  • Work with CSOs, including Māori-led providers, to co-design kindness programmes that are appropriate to the people the CSO works with. 

  • Work with funders to help them to understand and measure the contribution of kindness. 


Funders can:

  • Unpack what it means to be a kind funder.

  • Review requirements of funded organisations to ensure they create kind environment for funding.

  • Support cross-organisation / sector-wide kindness initiatives, and measurement.

What can *you* do with this report?

Here are some resources you can download. We'd love to hear what you think, or how you use them - please stay in touch.

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