Acorn Foundation head stepping down

Acorn Foundation general manager Nicky Wilkins has announced she will be stepping down later this year. Supplied photo.

After 12 years at the helm of the Acorn Foundation, general manager Nicky Wilkins has announced she will be leaving the role later this year to pursue other interests.

The Acorn Foundation board has commenced a national recruitment campaign to fill the role.

Nicky says the decision to leave was based on a number of factors.

“I am leaving the Acorn Foundation in a very sound position. I am immensely proud of the fact that, in the 12 years I have been here, we have built up the community fund from $96,000 to $21 million and today we have over 290 donors. That is huge growth and it will be exciting to see it continue to grow.”

Nicky says it is time for some new energy and focus at the helm. “I always believe you should give your all to a cause and then, once you have made a difference, step aside and allow the next passionate and capable person to exert their influence. The Acorn Foundation is now a significant community asset. We need clear vision, focus and drive to go to the next level and a new general manager will bring fresh ideas, new strategies and the right capabilities to ensure the foundation continues to grow in both value and respect.”

Acorn Foundation board chair Glenn Keaney says Nicky’s involvement over the past 12 years has been critical to the success of the foundation.

“Nicky has led Acorn through a period of real growth and our community is so fortunate to have had someone with her considerable passion, skill and focus in this position. This passion and her ability to build strong relationships and trust with our generous donors and key stakeholders has enabled us to grow as quickly as we have, which has resulted in more grant money being paid out to the worthy charitable organisations which help make our community a better place.

“She was also instrumental in getting the Vital Signs project underway in the Western Bay of Plenty, which is now being picked up by other regions in the Bay of Plenty. I think I speak for many when I say that Nicky will be sorely missed and she has made a real ‘mark’ in this community.”

Nicky’s tenure at Acorn Foundation first started in 2006 when Bill Holland contacted her looking for someone with marketing, management and organisational skills to run the newly established Acorn Foundation office.

Bill says her contributions to the foundation have been significant.

“Nicky has been absolutely critical to the success of the Acorn Foundation. She’s such a genuinely good person with an innate sense of caring.

“The Acorn Foundation always places such value and appreciation in our donors. They have joined us because they want to make a difference, but they are free to change their minds at any time, so having someone like Nicky running our team means we have always maintained really good relationships with our donors.”

Nicky says, for now, it is business as usual. “I wanted to give the board ample time to find my replacement and to ensure that they could appoint someone with time to allow me to work alongside them to ensure there is a very robust and efficient handover. The Acorn Foundation’s work is so critical to our region that I wish to ensure solid continuity for our donors, our charities and the foundation itself through the transition to a new general manager.”

Nicky says the new general manager will need to have strong people skills, community focus and be adept at establishing trusted relationships within the community.

“We have the immense privilege at the Acorn Foundation of partnering with our Donors and investing their money in community causes. Ensuring our Donors wishes are met is critical. This always needs to be balanced with a thorough understanding of our community’s greatest needs and maintaining good relationships with the many charities and community groups in our region whose work is pivotal and often life-changing. Keeping a strong focus on our community’s changing needs also requires good strategic focus.”

While Nicky says she plans to step down so that she can enjoy more time with her family and pursue some of her own community projects and interests she will miss her work at the Acorn Foundation.

“I am always amazed and humbled at the generosity of people. I am often reminded to ‘never judge a book by its cover’, as we can never presume we know the ability of others to give. My dream has always been that giving becomes the norm. Working at Acorn I have enjoyed immense satisfaction knowing that we help people contribute and make such a difference. I truly believe we are helping blaze the trail for New Zealand to become a country that gives.”

Applications are now open for the position.


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