Business people who give a damn

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An enterprising group of north Hamilton business people have started a radically simple initiative to give back to the community.

100 Locals Who Give a Damn is a membership-based “giving circle” inspired by the success of groups around the world.

The concept is simple: 100 people each give $100 at an Impact Donation meeting, three local groups/charities have the opportunity to pitch for the donation at the meeting, then and there everyone votes and the group that has the most votes walks away with $10,000 to put to incredible use in their organisation.

Their first meeting is on November 20, thanks to the organising committee of Melissa Renwick and Andrew Pietersz from The Eatery & The Keg Room, and Joanna Purdie from Learning Links Childcare.

Waikato Business News asked Renwick about the initiative.
What a great idea. Tell us about its genesis – when and how did you come up with it?

Thank you, this is an initiative that is run widely in America and Canada. A friend of ours introduced it to us several years ago and as our involvement in the community has grown we felt that this was an appropriate time to launch the group. There are so many smaller groups and charities out there doing fabulous work that just can’t get their hands on funding, this is a way of allowing a group of locals to have a direct impact on a group in their community and really understand how the money is going to be used.

Do you already have 100 people on board? How did you go about spreading the word?
We are at halfway with committed, signed-up members, we’ve had an enormous amount of great feedback and people expressing their intentions to join, now it’s just about getting them to commit.

What about the people who are giving – what sort of backgrounds do they have? Are they local?
All the people are local, a lot from the Hamilton north community; however, we are open to people from all over our area joining us. They are all predominantly business owners. For a lot of SMEs, we want to be able to have an impact on someone/something but in our small capacity can’t quite make a difference of any note. However, when we all join together, then we can have a huge impact.

And what about the groups/charities – how do you select the three who will pitch?
We are asking for groups and charities to come forward and nominate themselves, or have someone nominate them on their behalf. As an organising committee we will sit down and review the nominations; we have criteria that we will review them against and assess the strength of their nomination.

The meeting looks like a good networking opportunity as well. Is that part of the idea?
Absolutely, this is about putting 100 similar people in a room together, allowing them to meet and share ideas, potentially widen their networks for use in their own business. But it’s also about providing a takeaway for these businesses, a photograph of the 100 Locals that each person can showcase their involvement in and a story that we can feed back to them about the impact they’re having.

It looks like similar organisations overseas tend to do this quarterly. Is that your intention?
Initially we’re going for twice a year, but the aim is to get it up to quarterly once we have widened our network and established ourselves.

Are you aware of any others in New Zealand doing the same thing? Have you been in touch with others to spread the word?
We’re not currently; however, we hope there are others out there and we would love to meet with them to hear how it’s been working for them in their community.

• See www.theeatery.co.nz/100-locals-who-give-a-damn/ to find out more.

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Waikato Business News

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