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Aus startup disrupting international charity space

Over the last few decades, Australia has seen the disruption in transportation and accommodation.

Now, philanthropy is the latest sector to be challenged with an Australian-led non-for-profit making its mark on the global stage. Founded in Sydney, 10×10 Philanthropy has captured the attention of the purpose-driven millennials with a unique charity model based on technology and engagement.

The organisation is the brainchild of Sydney millennials​ Laurence Marshbaum, Nina Skryzynski and Jenny Newmarch, who simply started the concept with 10 friends.

It has grown exponentially, expecting to reach $2 million in fundraising. To coincide with this milestone, 10×10 Philanthropy is launching in San Francisco this week to engage with the city’s affluent but charitable residents. San Francisco is the most recent addition to it’s fast-growing community hubs which already include New York, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, Vancouver and major cities throughout Australia.

The international success of the Aussie start-up non-for-profit has been attributed to its unique approach in connecting people, describing itself as a “movement” not a charity. “This is a story of innovation and disruption,” Chief Executive Officer Alison Harrington said.

“10×10 is responding to a purpose-driven generation. Millennials want to find meaning and give back. They don’t want to just write a cheque when they’re old or go to gala dinners, they want to actively engage in this space,” she said.

Harrington says that they aim to change the perception of philanthropy. As a movement  driven by young people, it’s a completely different approach to giving which really has captured international attention.

The organisation works on a simple crowd-funding model. They gather 10 young volunteers form a committee and invite 10 friends each to a 10×10 event with each contributing a minimum of $100. The event is a mix between networking-cocktail party and a pitching contest from grassroots charities. Pitch nights are held in trendy venues including the offices of Atlassian, Google and Facebook; along with warehouse spaces, and disused churches.

Guests are then given their $100 back in the form of Charity Dollars to allocate to any of the three charities at the event they want to support. The next 10×10 volunteers are selected from the audience and the process is repeated over again.

Harrington said for the more than 750 committee volunteers, and over 8000 participants who have attended an event, the opportunity to make a difference at a community level is what fuels their desire.

Since its establishment in 2013, more than 180 charities ranging from those that protect and track koalas, to those that wash the clothes of the homeless have benefited from their involvement with many of 10×10 volunteers continuing their support of charities post the event.

Lucinda Steggles who worked in a corporate law firm, attended a 10×10 event and made a connection with Baytr, a mental health charity, who pitched at the 10×10 event. She became an ambassador and recently left her job at a law firm to work for Baytr in partnership management.

“I really love 10×10’s model of engaging young professionals in philanthropy, to allow them to utilise their time, treasure and talent to support grassroots social entrepreneurs,” Lucinda said.

With the $2 million milestone soon to be reached, the 10×10 team want to supercharge their efforts and get to the next $2 million mark even faster.

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