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Fireside Philanthropy

Many Sydney Members of our circle of giving reset and reinvigorated Society of Women Leaders on 22 August at our first gathering since March.

Many Sydney Members of our circle of giving reset and reinvigorated Society of Women Leaders on 22 August at our first gathering since March as we returned to Hunters Hill and the magnificent residence of Interim Chair Events and Sponsorships sub-committee and Founding Patron, Kerry-Anne Johnston to continue where we left off some months ago.

And indeed what we discovered in Sydney was a huge amount of passion and energy amongst our Members to invigorate our movement and continue our support of those women and children we have pledged our funds  to,  such as aid workers who go into places of conflict to serve at the frontline and the health and nutrition project we are funding  in East Indonesia.

We were thrilled to welcome the CEO of Australian Red Cross, Judy Slatyer together with Belinda Dimovski, Director of Engagement and Support, and are overwhelmed with the guidance and assistance being offered to us by them and Australian Red Cross.  Judy spoke to us of the importance of the 7 Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement namely Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality, and reminded us of the special significance of the Red Cross emblem which in times of conflict means "don't shoot".  The value of this in providing humanitarian assistance to those caught in a conflict regardless of which side they are on is enormous and is fundamental to the international aid work carried out by Red Cross globally.

We tasked our Governance working group with thinking about how we can provide more training about the emblem and the 7 Fundamental Principles to our Members so that we can be excellent advocates of this life-saving symbol. Watch this space as some very hard working Members develop a Member induction program!

Much was discussed about the funds raised by SWL and how this can be directed.  Judy assured us that our allocation of tens of thousands of dollars used as seed investment have a huge impact and she reminded us of an example where SWL funds have done just that. Jess Lees and Amanda McClelland, Aid Workers supported by SWL, recently live-streamed a 'Red Talk' reflecting on the  East Africa and Yemen crisis where millions of people are facing starvation, malnutrition and a cholera epidemic. The talk reached over 185,000 people. Following the live-stream, Red Cross saw a spike in donations to our East Africa appeal of around $400,000. That story and many more that Judy shared alongside us and the fire, reminded us why we choose to be a part of this unique circle of giving.

Anita and Susan, our Interim Co-Chairs, described to us how the Melbourne chapter had recently invited pitches from 4 potential Red Cross programs in Victoria that were looking for support.  All local SWL Members were invited to listen to the pitches and then vote on which project they wished to receive more information about and dive deeper in the philanthropy journey.  This took place at the recent SWL Boardroom Series Lunch sponsored by LK Group at their corporate offices. This reflects the significant steps being made by the Governance working group to put together guidelines for our group going forward which include a mechanism to allow all Members to be able to vote on how our funds will be directed.  We are incredibly excited about this development which brings to reality SWL's promise to its Members that not only will they have a direct connection to their giving but their membership will be directly linked to the significant decisions being made by the group.

Based on that great update, we assembled an Interim Programs working group on the spot to look into programs we will fund this financial year and report back on their recommendations to the wider group. This newly formed group includes Members from both Melbourne and Sydney and they will meet next month to review Red Cross programs that align with our ethos.  If you were not able to make it to the Fireside Chat and you'd like to be part of this Interim Programs working group, please contact Anita.

Our generous hostess in her capacity as Chair of the Interim Events and Sponsorships sub-committee told us the exciting news that sponsorships had recently been secured from NAB Private, LK Group, Sydney Dance Company and Paspaley.  Upcoming events in Sydney include a Boardroom Series Lunch hosted by NAB Private on Tuesday 12 September and a cocktail function at Paspaley's Martin Place flagship store on Thursday 26 October.  Future events will include a mix of lunches, evening cocktails and more informal evening gatherings at a home of a Member. Please let Kerry-Anne or Rowena know if you'd like to host an event in your home or office.

We were thrilled to present new member Adele McDonald with her bracelet and charm and welcome her to her first SWL event.  We were also delighted that youth member, Dominica Williamson, was able to join us.

Our thanks go to all our Members who attended the Fireside Chat, and most especially to Kerry-Anne for hosting and of course Judy for finding time in her busy schedule (remember too that she's Melbourne based) to reassure us of Red Cross's commitment to our cause.  We feel invigorated and ready to move forward with much excitement and vigour.