A total of $4.3m has been gifted to Bay of Plenty community groups over the past year, an increase of 50 per cent.

BayTrust today announced its grants and has suggested more increases are likely over the next 12 months.

Speaking at BayTrust's 28th Annual Public Meeting in Tauranga today, Board Chairman Kenneth Brown said the Trust's investments delivered a three per cent return over the past financial year.

"However, as a result of building up our grant reserves in earlier years we managed to increase our granting from $2.9m to $4.3m,'' he said.

"We have also held our expenses at a very similar level to previous years in spite of rising cost pressures and have managed to increase our granting by 50 per cent whilst still maintaining similar levels of reserves to the prior year which we believe is a great result for us and the Bay of Plenty communities we support."

BayTrust has continued to grant 'social loans' at low interest rates (largely to social housing providers), and has also put more resources into helping strengthen community groups and improve the way they operate.

Mr Brown said the volatility in global equity markets was expected to continue in the wake of Brexit and concerns over China's slowing growth. However, BayTrust believed its current diversified portfolio of $193m will put it in a good position to protect and equitably grow the organisation's investment capital and provide ongoing returns to the local community.

"Our significant reserves should allow us to weather the current volatile economic environment and we are looking to increase our granting from $4.3m last year, to $5m this year which I am sure will be gratefully received by the community."

Among those who were thankful for BayTrust's financial support were 11 community groups who would receive an average over of $200,000 each for a significant project this year.

BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes told today's meeting the recipients of the inaugural Strategic Funding Round had just been announced. A total of $2.4m was available to fund projects that will make a measurable and meaningful difference, and help make the Bay of Plenty the greatest place to be.

"We had 45 applicants for the first round of this fund, and have committed funding to 11 groups and projects spread throughout the Bay of Plenty, from Hospice, to housing to youth engagement," Rhodes says.

"BayTrust would like to congratulate the successful recipients and also to thank all 45 groups for submitting applications. It was very hard for us to make the final call on who not to fund, as all projects were great."

Successful Western Bay organisations include the Graeme Dingle Foundation ($150,000 over three years for local Project K, Kiwi Can and Star programmes); Tauranga Community Housing Trust ($310,000 for their Waihi Rd social housing development); NZ Blue Light Ventures ($279,475 over three years for a new driver navigation programme in the Bay of Plenty); and The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society ($200,000 for a new Plunket building in Te Puke).

BOP Plunket Society President Jandhe Troughton said the one-room Plunket clinic in Te Puke had been shunted between a number of temporary buildings in recent years.

The new building project had been a five-year effort led by passionate volunteers and would have space for Plunket nurse clinics, parenting education and playgroups, with a large outdoor play area.

"With space for other like-minded community groups, it will give the youngest, most precious members of the Te Puke community a dedicated, permanent space of their own," Troughton said.

"BayTrust's contribution to this project had been both timely and incredibly important. It was the final piece in a long and involved fundraising effort, turning Te Puke's grand designs into solid reality.

"The Plunket Society is incredibly grateful to BayTrust. This is far-reaching funding that will make a tangible difference to Te Puke families, supporting and nurturing future generations in the town and surrounding area."

This year's annual report is now available on BayTrust's website www.baytrust.org.nz.