The Hawke's Bay Power Consumers' Trust holds the shares in Unison on behalf of the 59,000 power consumers of Hawke's Bay.

Each year the Trust distributes the dividend it receives from Unison to all Hawke's Bay power consumers – and they have announced a cheque for $220 per consumer will be on its way shortly. A welcome pre-Christmas present to many.

With the arrival of the 2018 cheque, now is great time to think about how some or all of this dividend could benefit those in need.

Hawke's Bay residents love the image of vineyards, beautiful vistas and superb restaurants. But for many in our community, the elderly who live alone, the homeless, and the victims of violence (to name a few), that is not their Hawke's Bay.

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Last year, when new trustees were elected to the Hawke's Bay Power Consumers' Trust, there was a lot of discussion as to whether the dividend paid to the Trust by Unison should be used by the Trust to support struggling local charities.

A large proportion of the population supported this move, and I would encourage those who supported this change to consider using some or all of your cheque for the good of our community.

I am the chair of Hawke's Bay Foundation, an organisation which works closely with the charitable sector in our region. We accept donations, which are invested forever, with the income distributed annually to Hawke's Bay charities.

Our fund is growing steadily (currently $2.3m), and hence, the amount of support we can provide is also growing. Community Foundations like ours can be a powerhouse of support to local charities, and will benefit our region for generations to come.

We are setting up a separate fund in the Foundation to accept donations from Power Consumer Trust cheques.

If just 1000 local people each gave their $220 dividend to the Foundation, that would result in $220,000 invested in our region, forever.

In 10 years' time, the original investment should be worth $281,000, and more than $87,000 would have been returned to the community through annual grants. In 100 years' time, the original $220,000 should have grown to a staggering $2.6m, with more than $3.7m having being invested back into our community. And as a community we can multiply this by further donations to the fund in future years!

So if you want to support a range of Hawke's Bay charities forever, this could be a good place to donate to. The benefit of your giving will always stay in Hawke's Bay. You can find out more at www.hawkesbayfoundation.org.nz.

Please get behind your community and consider donating part or all of your Power Consumer Trust cheque. Live here, give here!

* Giles Pearson is a chartered accountant and chair of the Hawke's Bay Foundation