The Antidote to Negativity - Generosity Magazine

22 November 2016


On the very evening that the US election result stunned the world, 150 shell-shocked corporate heavyweights gathered in the vast foyer of Clayton Utz’s citadel in Sydney’s Bligh Street.

They weren’t seeking legal advice. They came to participate in The Funding Network’s live crowd-funding event on diversity and social inclusion.

An air of disbelief hung heavy in the room as guests pointed out the irony of the evening’s themes, and the role that immigration and diversity played in Donald Trump’s victory.

They spoke of the palpable sense of hopelessness that was evident on the streets, and how many were questioning political morality and the vagaries of human nature.

But as the evening progressed, guests were surprised and delighted to find that giving  was in fact a powerful antidote to the prevailing negativity.

A powerful collective empathy was evident for the three projects pitching to the room on some of the hardest challenges facing our society: refugees, LGBTIQ and Indigenous youth unemployment.

In broken English, refugee and former leading Iranian restaurateur, Hamed spoke about his dismay in not even being able to find a job here washing dishes. That is, until he stumbled across fledgling social enterprise Free to Feed, which runs pop-up cooking schools, and found meaningful employment and a way to help other asylum seekers and refugees break out of their isolation and open up opportunities.

Passionate Indigenous leader, Peter Cooley from First Hand Solutions, shared his story about how he and his team reconnect Indigenous youth to traditional culture by passing down knowledge and skills from elders through both their community programs and their social enterprise, Blak Markets.

The final pitch came from leading corporate head hunter and founder of The Pinnacle Foundation, Sean Linkson. Pinnacle provides scholarships and mentors to 16-24 year old LGBTIQ students who suffer major life challenges arising from marginalisation because of their gender or sexual identity.

One common result is the loss of the environment, money and support they need to keep up their studies. They are over 400 per cent more likely to commit suicide.

As with all TFN events, after their pitches, the presenters leave the room and the pledging starts. It began with a good-natured ribbing from a guest challenging the room to match his pledge for $500.

This sparked a contagious wave of collective giving, gently egged on by Master of Ceremonies, James Valentine.

The pace picked up when another guest called his donation an “outrage tax” on the US election results. Others followed the lead, expressing their pledges in denominations of the ‘tax’. The wave of optimism swept aside the post-election pall.

By the end of the night, more than $74,000 had been raised for the three projects.

A recent survey by Roy Morgan reported 91 per cent of Australians put the right to a ‘fair go’ at the top of their list of values and the event epitomised that notion. It brought laughter, tears and great satisfaction to givers and receivers, but, more importantly, it showcased a deep-seated generosity and common humanity that is more than capable of withstanding the prevailing tides of negativity.


Read the article in Generosity Magazine here