11/06/2008 - 22:00

FP Pyramid charity plan takes off

11/06/2008 - 22:00

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A no-frills, pyramid-style charity started by a couple of Perth businessmen four years ago is providing flexible, targetted solutions for disadvantaged Western Australians.

FP Pyramid charity plan takes off

A no-frills, pyramid-style charity started by a couple of Perth businessmen four years ago is providing flexible, targetted solutions for disadvantaged Western Australians.

WA Charity Direct was formed in 2004 by Alcock Brown-Neaves Group general manager Aidan Hooper, and Celebration Homes general manager Damien Eves, to provide charity support where it's needed most, without too much demand on their time.

Osborne Park-based ABN Group is WA's second largest building company, and Celebration is one of its subsidiary brands.

According to Mr Hooper, the pyramid recruiting approach to WA Charity Direct is a new phenomenon in the not-for-profit sector.

"It started with two of us, who chipped in $2,000, and we decided to go out and invite four people each to kick things off, who also put in [$2,000]," Mr Hooper told WA Business News.

"Then we got those four to invite two more and then those had to invite two more, and so on."

WA Charity Direct now has 126 members and this year is expecting a $320,000 surplus to help its chosen causes.

This year, the charity is offering annual corporate membership for $2,000, with member companies able to nominate and vote on which charities and causes to support.

WA Charity Direct is as dynamic as it is unique. For example, it can help a single person in need of a wheelchair buy one immediately, or it can help a family raising a terminally ill child get back on their feet financially. There's no limit to whom it can help.

At the end of each financial year, members pay the $2,000 fee and suggest a charity or person WA Charity Direct can help.

A board of nine trustees researches the suggestion to ensure legitimacy and a vote is made via email on the board's recommendations.

Mr Eves said casting a wide net when recruiting members was essential to the charity's success.

"We made sure they weren't just friends of a friend who knew each other; we wanted to cast the net wide to keep the momentum going," Mr Eves said.

He said the simplicity of the charity, the ability to eliminate bureaucratic red tape, and having 100 per cent of all funds go to designated charities or causes, made WA Charity Direct an attractive option to time-poor people.

"In the past it was hard trying to fit the charity in while running a business," Mr Eves said.

"The whole premise behind it is that it's for people who are time-poor individuals. That also relates to us. We had to make sure we get our day jobs done right too."

Mr Hooper said the organisation's structure allowed members to see the end result of their donations, something lacking from the big charity organisations.

Since 2004, WA Charity Direct has distributed more than $300,000 to charities, including: the Down Syndrome Association of WA ($65,000); the Esther Foundation ($55,000); Batten Holder Appeal ($50,000); Carers WA ($30,000); Friends of Autism ($50,000); and the Association of the Advancement of Brain Injured Children ($27,000).

WA Charity Direct now has nine trustees looking after its interests. WA boxer Danny Green is the charity's patron.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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