NETWORKING can be a key strategy in ensuring the diverse range of passionate, motivated people in the not-for-profit sector can connect to effect positive social outcomes. One new player already making connections in the Perth philanthropy arena is the Meridian Global Group, founded last year by a number of Perth-based business people looking for more sustainable and personal ways to make a difference in the community. With its mission to become the premier global support group for young professionals and entrepreneurs seeking to develop leadership and philanthropic spirit, Meridian aims to create positive social outcomes by providing resources in the form of commercial expertise, education and funding, as well as supporting high-impact social projects. Meridian Global Group co-founder and president, Rueben Taylor, said the group wanted to connect young, like-minded professionals between the ages of 25 and 45 and provide them with the opportunity to volunteer their skills and experience to charities or causes of their choice. “[People in] this demographic are not usually known for their philanthropy, but we seek to change that by engaging them in core projects such as Gift Xchange, where we match professional services with the needs of charities, and the Next Generation project, where we work with secondary schools to instil and nuture social responsibility,” Mr Taylor said. Outside of Meridian, Mr Taylor owns several franchises of ‘Action International’, where his coaches help clients to get the most out of their businesses and themselves. He said the Meridian Global Group would be responsible for providing member events and services, as well as running core projects consistent with Meridian’s vision and values. A foundation has been established within the group to channel financial support through to non-core projects, including programs run by established charities in disadvantaged communities around Australia and in developing nations. Core project Gift Xchange is based on an online community where charities have the opportunity to promote their services and volunteering opportunities, while Meridian members and the general public can search and identify those opportunities to offer their skills and experience to the organisation or cause of their choice. Meridian members also have the opportunity to be mentors in the Next Generation project so secondary students can interact and learn from successful and inspiring young business people and entrepreneurs. On Wednesday June 14, the Meridian Global group will hold a launch event at the Art Gallery of WA with up to 250 attendees from a cross section of industry, not-for-profit and community groups. Guest speakers at the launch will include: Rick Hart, a prominent Perth philanthropist and managing director of Rick Hart electrical stores; Ros Worthington, Ernst & Yong Social Entrepreneur of 2006 and founder of Make a Wish WA and the Breast Cancer Foundation WA; and Geoff Rasmussen, founding director of Azure Capital and board member of Youth Focus. Meridian Global plans a series of events for 2006 to raise money for core projects, including quarterly ‘sunset club’ networking events, movie nights, wine appreciation nights, an annual Meridian Global ball and a corporate golf day. Mr Taylor said the group’s 12-month plan included building on its membership base, establishing an office and appointing a full-time executive officer to oversee operations.
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