21/06/2019 - 11:26

Meridian Global giving inspiration

21/06/2019 - 11:26

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The donation that giving circle Meridian Global Foundation provided to mental health charity zero2hero five years ago shows the impact targeted giving can have.

zero2hero’s Ashlee Harrison (left) with Meridian board members Derek Gerrard, Anna Pitman and Rueben Taylor. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

The donation that giving circle Meridian Global Foundation provided to mental health charity zero2hero five years ago shows the impact targeted giving can have.  

The phrase ‘mates who donate’ has been the driving philosophy behind Perth giving circle Meridian Global’s gifting of more than $500,000 to 24 charities since its inception in 2014.

The giving circle aims to make an impact by collecting 100 donations of $1,000 each a year for a pool of $100,000, with half donated to three charities chosen by the participants and the other half put into an investment fund.

The idea began when a group of business people started discussing how they could give more effectively, Meridian Global co-founder and secretary Rueben Taylor said.

“We were giving in different ways and we thought we could have a greater impact by giving together and inspiring a generation of givers,” Mr Taylor told Business News.

“The big vision was always to inspire philanthropy and that was part of trying to connect people with charities, connect people with philanthropists and really get that conversation happening.”

Charities are assessed on their sustainability, ability to empower, degree of inspiration and innovation, and whether they will provide a social return on investment, Mr Taylor said.

The board selects three finalists and all those who have donated get to vote on who receives $25,000, $15,000 or $10,000.

One of the first beneficiaries of the fundraising initiative was zero2hero, an organisation aiming to increase the understanding of mental health issues and awareness of mental health services in children and young people.

At the time, zero2hero was under-resourced and turning away students from its education programs.

zero2hero chief executive Ashlee Harrison said demand for its programs and services was incredibly strong, yet it was a volunteer-run organisation with very little corporate or philanthropic support.

“At the time we offered a range of school programs and camps but were limited by our volunteer workforce and our resources,” Ms Harrison told Business News.

“Through our fundraising efforts we were able to run two mental health leadership camps per year, but unfortunately due to funding we had to say ‘no’ to hundreds of young people every year.

“These were young people passionate about improving mental health and eager to learn the skills to prevent suicide in their community.

“This was heartbreaking for me and our team.”

Ms Harrison applied for a Meridian grant for the funds to employ a part-time camp manager to ensure their programs had adequate support.

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