The Canterbury Community Trust is to give $3.25 million to Nelson to support projects which have a connection to effects of the Canterbury earthquakes.
The money is part a $25m one-off special fund to help in Canterbury's post-earthquake recovery.
Community organisations in Nelson, Marlborough and the Chatham Islands will benefit from a $5.1m Regional Fund.
Trust chairman Alec Neill said: "For only the second time in our 25-year history we are using money from our capital reserves to fund a special initiative to assist in Canterbury's post-earthquake recovery."
Nelson, Marlborough and the Chatham Islands communities had seen flow-on effects from the Christchurch earthquakes.
Consequently the trust had established the $5.1m Regional Fund, comprising $3.25m for Nelson, $1.74m for Marlborough and $100,000 for the Chatham Islands, to put towards projects.
They could be a contribution towards projects which supported the community, strengthening significant historic buildings or assisting people who have moved to these areas after the Canterbury earthquakes, he said.
Nelson trustee Bill Dahlberg said an example of the sort of project or organisation that could apply was the Nelson School of Music. He said the fund was "a bold step" that had been made possible because management of the trust's fund had been good.
Previously it had cut back on donations by 10 per cent.
"Because we have done that and been quite frugal we dodged most of the bad effects of the financial crisis," he said.
Of the other money from the special fund the largest share will be $10m for social housing.
Mr Neill said the trust would partner with the Social Housing Unit, the government agency set up to provide social and affordable housing.
"Together we will work with existing organisations already doing valuable work in this area," he said.
The trust has also allocated $2m to partner with Ngai Tahu in developing community programmes, $6m to a Rebuild Community Fabric Fund for organisations to make grant applications to, and $1.9m to an Event Development Fund for community events, programmes and major events.
The purpose of the trust, established in 1988, is to distribute funds for charitable, cultural, philanthropic and recreational benefits in the four regions - Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and the Chatham Islands.
Since its inception it has distributed more than $340m to the community.
Mr Neill said the establishment of the special fund would not affect the trust's usual activities and it expected to distribute a further $18m in the 2013-14 financial year.
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