How this Australian Startup is Helping Millennials Support Charities

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They've raised a million dollars and counting.

We all want to make a change in this world, but with 54,000 registered charities in Australia alone, it’s often a problem of too much choice, too hard basket. So Aussie upstart 10×10 Philanthropy has simplified the process with one cracker of a concept: a fundraising event where three – just three – charities battle it out for your coin. “The idea was born out of the frustration of attending far too many gala dinners, charity balls and charity events, where we had no idea where our money was going or what impact it would make,” say co-founders Jenny Weinstock, Laurence Marshbaum and Nina Maya Skrzynski. “10×10 empowers the audience of young professionals to make an active decision about where their money goes and what impact it will make.”

Since its inception in 2013, 10×10 has run 35 events (“a mix between networking, cocktail party and a pitch contest”) across seven cities, raised over a million dollars in support of 86 grassroots charities, has launched globally in London, Hong Kong and Vancouver (not bad, considering they started out with the idea of running just two events a year in Sydney) and this year plans to hit the US. We grilled the team on what they’re doing, why it works, and how we can get involved.

How did the business come to be?

We saw a real hunger and desire from people to give back to their community and be philanthropic, [but] we, as a generation, just don’t have the time, knowledge and the infrastructure to do so in a way that we know makes a difference. The second problem was that we saw so many incredible grassroots organisations at work in the broader community that lack the fundraising capability, resources and the know-how to raise the funds crucial for them to continue their important work. 10×10 is a model that solves both these problems.

How do 10×10 events play out, exactly?

Ten young professionals invite 10 mates, who each contribute $100. The volunteer committee finds a cool venue to hold the event – like old warehouses, disused churches – that creates a real buzz. As part of the night, the three chosen grassroots charities pitch to the audience for their donations. They share stories and tell us about the difference that the audience’s funding will make. When the audience arrives, each person is given their $100 back in two $50 ‘Charity Dollar’ vouchers and are then empowered to make a decision as to who they donate their money to. At the end of every event, we ask the charities what help they need in non-financial ways. In our audience, there are a range of diverse skillsets which are often volunteered to these lean grassroots organisations. We also ask 10 new people from the audience to put their hand up to run the next 10×10.

How are the charities selected?

Each committee is individually empowered to select the charities that present on the night. They are provided with a list of criteria which define the types of organisations that 10×10 seeks to support. These are almost always DGR [deductible gift recipient] registered grassroots organisations that are solving social problems in an innovative and sustainable way. The funds that we are raising need to make a meaningful difference to them, their organisation and the people they are helping.

What has been the biggest challenge in taking 10×10 global?

We run off a shoestring and are proud that for every dollar invested in our operating costs, we give $5 back to the charities. This is hard to sustain, however, and we feel there is a poor stigma in the broader community about charities and their operating costs. Why do we, as a community, encourage our corporations to invest in their growth for profit, but discourage our charities solving some of our most pressing human and social concerns from doing the same? So we have struggled to raise the funds to build a platform for global growth… However, we have not struggled to find amazing young people all around the world who want to run our events, sit on and lead our committees.

How can people get involved in 10×10?

Get online and be part of our community, come to our events and tell your friends. We have an event coming up in Sydney on July 21. Volunteer to be part of one of our upcoming committees (this is done at our events) and connect with corporate sponsors to support our work.

We would love to hear your thoughts