Challenging economic times have hit a Tauranga-based charitable trust, with investment returns down $4.5 million on last year.
BayTrust's annual report to March 31 saw chairwoman Mary Dillon and trust manager Bruce Cronin refer to the Bay's "lost summer" of the Rena disaster, the kiwifruit Psa virus and the continuing uncertainties facing the world economy.
Mrs Dillon said the trust's investments earned $6.9 million for the 12 months- a 4.8 per cent rate of return. This was down from 2010-11's $11.4 million, which represented an 8.4 per cent return on investment.
She said this was very acceptable in today's economic circumstances. "The 12 months to March was testing in many ways."
Mrs Dillon said community organisations were finding funds harder and harder to come by, with funders themselves struggling with both reduced income and increased demands. BayTrust grants for 2011-12 totalled nearly $2.04 million to 131 community groups in the Bay of Plenty.
This included $116,000 from the trust's Dillon Scholarship programme to 64 tertiary students with disabilities.
The trust also increased its loans to community groups by $1.1 million and commenced or progressed a number of community development projects.
BayTrust was formed in 1988 and received $90 million in investment capital from the sale of TrustBank in 1996. Since then it has maintained a grants programme averaging $2.5 million a year and grown its capital to nearly $147 million.
BayTrust's region extends from Katikati to Ruapehu and across to East Cape. The trust's annual public meeting will be held at the Omanu Surf Club on August 16, starting at 2pm.