Social Development Minister Paula Bennett will spend five weeks in the United States looking at ways to develop new policy on expanding corporate social responsibility in New Zealand.

She has been awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship which will finance her individualised study project in October.

She told the Herald it had been a difficult decision to accept such a long leave of absence from her ministerial post.

But New Zealand was at quite a precipice for change in the area of corporate social responsibility and she believed the scholarship would be invaluable.

"I think America does it quite well."

She expected to hold between 50 and 70 meetings. Her programme had yet to be determined but would include New York.

She was interested in what role the Government could have in brokering arrangements between the corporate sector, non-government organisations and those they are helping.

"I think it is the way of the future for us here and we are getting to a level of maturity where in every sense ... we are ready to take those next steps. But bringing that knowledge back here would be fascinating in how we move forward.

"I feel like both sectors are trying to make a connection and there is a piece missing in the middle. I am most interested in finding out what that is and how we broker it."

Paula Bennett said she had not done much travelling.

"I spent my years raising my daughter. I do feel I have a very New Zealand-centric view and it would be quite interesting to bring in a bit more of a global perspective into some of that work that we are doing."

She cited the work TelstraClear was doing with Graeme Dingle and at-risk youth and some of the youth programmes in schools.

Prime Minister John Key had approved the trip, she said.

He was supportive of corporate social responsibility and they had first got to know each other through discussion on the issue, her from the perspective of non-government organisations and him from the corporate viewpoint.

The executive director of Philanthropy New Zealand, Robyn Scott, said the fellowship would greatly benefit Paula Bennett and New Zealand. She understood that tripartite partnerships between Government, business and the community would be of special interest to the minister.

"Issues within society have become incredibly complex so no one player in a community can ever have all the answers, so it won't be just Barnardos or just Relationship Services or whatever in a community that comes up with the solutions. There will be many players."

The Eisenhower Fellowship is funded by a foundation chaired by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell. It selects up to 25 people a year from around the world considered to be outstanding in their fields and in mid-career.

Susan Baragwanath, who pioneered classes for young mothers to remain at school, was awarded one in 1994.

According to a 2006 report, Giving New Zealand, the philanthropic sector in New Zealand gave about $700 million.