Philanthropy to Change the World

Last week I attended the 3rd annual Nexus Australia Youth Summit in Sydney.  Nexus brings together a global community of young philanthropists, social change-makers, business entrepreneurs and impact investors – bridging communities of wealth and social entrepreneurship.  As founder, Rachel Cohen Gerrol describes it, it’s an opportunity to catalyse new leadership and accelerate solutions to the world’s problems.  Since 2011, the organisation has hosted over 20 summits across six continents and in Australia, the Summits have brought together an interactive mix of panels, workshops and networking to galvanise philanthropy, impact investing and social entrepreneurship to a new audience.  Here are just a couple of my key take-aways from the Summit.

Family and Giving

I was very inspired by the panel on inter-generational giving with David and Michael Gonski and Quin and Cathy Scalzo.  I love the opportunity that we have to influence our families to live a life of giving.  To talk about giving in our families, to give together and show the potential for all of us to make a difference.  David Gonski talked about the opportunity to donate your time and not just your money or as well as your money.  He loves to listen to others and hear how they wanted to make impact or change within society.   The other thing I enjoyed about this panel is that you could see the personal impact that giving had had on their lives.  What a lovely thing to share with your family!

The Challenges of the Social Sector

Tim Costello chaired an inspiring workshop and shared his views on the state of the social sector.   He spoke about transparency being key and noted the welcomed action by the federal government to keep the ACNC.  He also spoke about the compassion fatigue and how we as Australians can sometimes buy into the rhetoric of our politicians making us feel poorer than we are for their own political gain.  We have to remind ourselves we are the 3rd richest nation per capita. I encourage you to read his blog post on the topic here – Australia Must Emerge from ‘Bubble of Self Pity’.

The Impact of Unconscious Bias

Robert Wood from the Centre of Ethical Leadership gave an excellent workshop on the impact of unconscious bias in the workplace.  You can read some of the research he shared here which is a meta analysis of 117 studies providing rigorous experimental comparisons of men and women who are matched on all dimensions except gender and found that women who aspire to leadership and other male dominated occupations carry a heavy and hidden handicap due to unconscious bias.  But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, he explored the ways to overcome bias including actively encouraging a diversity of perspective, slowing down our thinking and reminding ourselves of the bias that may occur.

Business and Social Change

I’ve long been a believer that business has an exciting role in change.  It was Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop, who wrote Business as Unusual, that first inspired me to establish my business, Alyceum.  One of Nexus’ sponsors, Geoff Wilson from Wilson Asset Management spoke about the inspiring journey of his business on the panel session talking about the Pledge 1% with Shanna Frati from Salesforce and Dipti Pratt, an ambassador for Pledge 1%, which is building a movement of corporate philanthropy.  The pledge is about businesses pledging 1% of equity, product and employee time for their communities.  Sounds good to me!  In fact, Geoff Wilson’s commitment went far beyond this, giving his staff 1 day per month to volunteer and $10,000 each year to do good.  How inspiring!

The Evolution of 100 Women

The conference was a lovely time of reflection.  When I attended the very first Nexus Australia Youth Summit in 2013 with my four-month daughter old and my mum in tow, 100 Women was just an idea!  It was just after this time that we set up the inaugural committee to launch the following year in March 2014.  In under two years, 100 Women has raised $200,000 and followed our purpose of igniting women as philanthropists while also building a funding pool for projects impacting women and girls both locally and globally.

I think we have a lot to be proud of with 100 Women:
– 6 grants giving $200,000 away to causes empowering women and girls both locally and globally
– the transparency and integrity of our Board, volunteers and organisation
– engaging a range of people in philanthropy – women, young professionals, first-time givers and more!
– our rigorous approach to grant making “effective altruism”
– our innovation and ingenuity “permission-less innovation”

Thank you for being part of the 100 Women journey.  I can’t wait to see what we can achieve in our next two years.  100 Women members are invited to a 2nd Birthday Dinner – register here.

Alicia Curtis

Co-founder and Chair, 100 Women

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