There are charities that change lives, charities that change the world, and then there charities that fill your belly with fire and make you believe that you – little old you – have the power to do it all, inside you already.
For me, Amnesty International is one of those, so an invite to join their global fundraising skillshare was an honour. An invite to ignite a spark in 200 global fundraisers in the opening plenary, now that was a challenge!
The AI Global Skillshare, this year in Antwerp, is a meeting of the finest fundraising and campaigning minds across the global branches, regions and international secretariat. It’s a chance for friends, old and new, to come together to help make each other the best possible fundraisers. And in the world of Trump, Assad, Isis et al – these guys have their work cut out.
What could I say to fire them up?
We’re living in dark days, but I take inspiration in the glimmers of hope that line every disaster-shaped cloud.
That hope always takes the form of human compassion. The shape of people who act at the sight of suffering and injustice in the world. Not because they’re the best qualified, or it’s their job – but because they can’t not do something.
So on the opening day of the skillshare, I stood up and spoke about the three women who started Help Refugees with a single Big Yellow Storage container, and went on to help thousands of refugees. About the team behind More United, who, inspired by Jo Cox’s speech and tragic death have raised over £500,000 online to back candidates across party lines this election, shaking up British politics.
I talked about the thousands of people who stood up for civil rights in America by getting behind the ACLU. The celebrities and regular folk who rallied behind them to raise $24 million dollars in the weekend after the travel ban, and the TV producers who hosted Stand for Rights.
What do these people have in common? They’re impatient to make a difference. Much like our next generation of donors.If there’s a charity that’s doing the work they think needs to be done – like the ACLU, they’ll get behind them 100%. And if there isn’t? They’ll start one themselves.
It’s not a new story – in fact it’s the very same spirit that the founders of organisations like Oxfam and Amnesty had 60 years ago – an impatient optimism. A need to make things better.
Somewhere along the way, those older organisations have become the establishment, and the establishment are rarely the ones who shake things up. So it’s up to everyone in that room in Antwerp, and to all of us in the charity sector, to make sure that we’re challenging ourselves and the organisations we represent to deliver the impact the next generation of donor demands. Every step of the way.
Yesterday was our annual #CharityGiveAway.
We laughed, we cried, and (some of us) got a little bit drunk afterwards as we celebrated passing the £250,000 milestone, given away since Open began.
So here’s where the money went this year:
|Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT)||£1,250|
|Action for Kids||£200|
|Be Child Cancer Aware||£400|
|British Red Cross||£500|
|Callum Pite’s Smile Charity||£300|
|Cancer Research UK||£400|
|Clowns Without Borders||£500|
|Crohns and Colitis UK||£300|
|Crossroads Care Coventry||£1,000|
|Exeter Citizens Advice Bureau||£250|
|Friends of the Earth||£500|
|Greenpeace Environmental Trust||£250|
|Hackney City Farm||£350|
|Hackney Winter Night Shelter||£250|
|Hand in Hand for Syria||£1,000|
|Home Start Camden||£250|
|Imperial College Healthcare Charity||£1,000|
|Kidney Research UK||£250|
|London Wildlife Trust||£1,000|
|Medecins Sans Frontieres||£3,700|
|Ministry of Stories||£250|
|Oxfam (South Sudan)||£250|
|Pancreatic Cancer Action||£1,000|
|Pancreatic Cancer UK||£250|
|PAPA’s Park (Brixton)||£250|
|Refugee Community Kitchen||£500|
|Refugee Support Network||£250|
|Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability||£250|
|Save the Children||£1,300|
|Save the Children (Syria)||£250|
|Soft Power Education||£250|
|Soi Dogs Foundation||£500|
|SOS Children’s Villages UK||£300|
|St Gemma’s Hospice||£200|
|St John’s Holidays for Children Trust||£500|
|St Nicholas Hospice||£400|
|STAR (Somerset Trust for Arts & Recreation)||£1,000|
|Teenage Cancer Trust||£1,000|
|Terrence Higgins Trust||£500|
|The Amber Trust||£500|
|The Choir with No Name||£1,000|
|The Cybersmile Foundation||£300|
|The Gorilla Organization||£300|
|The Mayhew Animal Home (Therapaws)||£250|
|The Movember Foundation||£334|
|The Shakespeare Hospice||£500|
|The UK Sepsis Trust||£500|
|The Whitehawk Foodbank (Trussle Trust)||£500|
|Trinity Day Care Centre||£500|
|West Hampstead Women’s Centre||£250|
|Wilberry Wonder Pony||£300|
|Willow Young Carers (Barnardo’s)||£1,000|
|World Animal Protection||£250|
|World Land Trust||£200|
|Yarl’s Wood Befrienders||£500|
There’s a funny feeling in the office today. A kind of happy, sad feeling. Part nerves, part excitement.
You see, this afternoon is our eighth annual Sharefest. For those uninitiated, it goes like this…
Every year, each member of staff gets £1,000 to give to charity. We gather round, sit in a circle and talk about who we’ve given it to. We talk about the life-changing work they are doing, and the personal stories behind our choices. There is laughter and friendship and a fair few tears. Hence the feeling: part happy, part sad.
And that’s the nature of what we do in our sector, right? We tell stories that move people. We tell stories to change attitudes. We tell stories to change lives.
Rarely do we get the chance to hear so many inspiring stories in one go. And as we share our stories, and reflect on the wonderful work that happens in our sector, we’re going to give away thousands of pounds. In fact, this afternoon, we’re giving away £60,000 and hopefully, sending a bit more ‘happy’ out into the world.
Join us on twitter @LifeAtOpen to hear where the money goes, and share the positive vibes a little further.