Positivity must win out.

As the news coverage is consumed by the fallout from Oxfam’s handling of sexual misconduct cases in Haiti during its 2011 post-earthquake relief efforts, which has followed hot on the heels of the Presidents Club exposé, it feels charity and society in general is sitting in the middle of an existential crisis.

The UK has always had a strong relationship with charity; whether that’s throwing some coins in a bucket, volunteering at a project, setting up a direct debit, running a marathon or offering a stranger help in the aftermath of a public tragedy – as a nation we love to help. However, it feels like charities are under more scrutiny than ever and our relationship with giving is changing.

As a company we work really hard to bring positivity and enthusiasm to the work we do, elevating the charities we work with and celebrating the difference they make. When something comes along that questions the public’s trust in charity giving, it impacts the entire sector. No one wins.

Our commitment to charity started on day one. I founded EastofEden to promote talent-led, brand-awareness and engagement campaigns for charities. Our campaigns and events are grounded in positivity and celebrating the amazing achievements made. We’ve worked with international charities who promote volunteering for young people, through to health charities who are shining a light on an issue that can devastate lives if not caught early enough. No matter what the cause – it should be highlighted and celebrated. With everything that’s happened, we’ve looked at how we approach what we do and are firm in our position that positivity must win out.

Giving is good. It makes a real difference to people’s lives and we need to celebrate that. Yes, elements of the sector require change, culturally or otherwise, but fundamentally we give because we know we can play a part in changing someone’s life for the better.

Time to Talk

Today is Time to Talk Day, an initiative from mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, aimed at breaking the silence around mental health. Organisations and individuals up and down the country are helping to spread the word about this fantastic initiative and with great reason to. On our doorstep, Huckle the Barber has been offering free tea, coffee and donuts this morning for anyone who just wants to pop in for a chat. It’s really inspiring to see.

Despite one in four people in the UK being affected by mental health issues, talking about them openly is still a taboo subject. It is frankly outrageous that a society such as ours – world-leaders in all kinds of of medical research and treatment – can’t grasp mental health as a comfortable subject.

Whether it’s something that impacts an individual’s self-esteem, relationships or completely dictates someone’s day-to-day life, mental health problems can be debilitating to both the sufferer and those around them; it’s time to talk.

Ultimately, mental health is personal. It’s the most personal thing we have. Your mental makeup defines you and is the core of who you are. Of course, the idea of sharing can be daunting and should always be a personal choice, however the bigger issue is that as a society we don’t make it the norm to talk about mental health and as such the acceptance isn’t there.

We should do more to encourage people to talk, not to retreat. Let’s make a change. Let’s lose the throwaway phrases that mean we don’t have to deal with what might be going on. Let’s replace the comment about your friend being “too sensitive”, “volatile”, “lairy”, “antisocial” or a “recluse” and replace them with something simple. “How are you feeling mate?” or “Are you OK?”

#timetotalk

#SmearForSmear

As part of Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, today we see the launch of the #SmearForSmear campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the risks of cervical cancer and encourage women to attend smear tests.

Now, let’s get this out of the way first – cancer does not discriminate. Anyone who’s had a loved one suffer from any form of cancer will tell you that it’s harsh, destructive and incredibly cruel, yet, if caught early enough it is treatable and a potentially harrowing journey can be stopped in its tracks.

1 in 4 women in the UK don’t attend their scheduled smear tests and that drops to 1 in 3 for women between 25 and 29. This needs to change.  A study from the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust found that embarrassment was a key reason for not getting tested.

Whether male or female, the prospect of letting someone clinically analyse your bits and bobs can be daunting and can feel embarrassing, but just remember, they couldn’t care less! Doctors and nurses aren’t there to pass judgement or criticise; when it comes to smear test, their job is to potentially save your life.

Get tested. Be safe. Be happy.

Simple.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Few people in modern history have had such a profound effect on the world as Martin Luther King Jr. 2018 marks 50 years since his death, assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee and today marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the USA.

As a pioneering voice in the Civil Rights movement in America, Mr. King was an example of standing up for a cause you believed in and making a positive difference.

Fuelled by a belief that the world should be a better, fairer and more just place, his charisma, ability to engage with people and advocacy for a cause that was bigger than anyone could really comprehend, is a lesson to us all.

Despite the world seeming like a divided place at times, we should all remember that fundamentally good begets good. If you care about something, then as long as you’re not hurting anyone, why not share it? You might interest someone else and they might just find the same passion and enjoyment that you get too. That’s how change starts.

Charity is a great place to focus this feeling. It’s really important to remember that ‘charity’ doesn’t mean you have to fish around in your pocket for a tenner and stick it in a collection box. Modern charity benefits just as much from you sharing their positive message as it does that tenner.

So why not take five minutes out of your day, maybe on the commute home or once you’ve put the kids to bed and find a cause that speaks to you. Then, next time you’re speaking to your partner, your friend, your family, why not raise it – share that positive message and do your own little bit to start the process of change.

We can’t all be a Martin Luther King Jr, but we can all follow his lead and stand up for a cause we feel passionate about.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

The Breakfast Club: London

We had a wonderful time at Aquavit on Wednesday, hosting the latest edition of The Breakfast Club: London.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Breakfast Club, it’s a free charity chat and breakfast that we host once a quarter, primarily for small and medium charities.

We encourage an open and relaxed environment with discussions taking place around a set theme.

Basically it’s a chance to share experiences, ideas and hopefully come up with a few suggestions, all whilst enjoying a rather fancy and delicious breakfast!

The first edition of The Breakfast Club in 2018 saw ten charity representatives discuss the forthcoming GDPR rollout; looking at what steps different organisations had taken so far, the impact on their ability to communicate with supporters and ways to utilise the new rules. Discussions moved from the potential role of social media as the mass engagement channel, to the benefits of cleaning up databases and using GDPR as an excuse for a clean slate.

The second item on the agenda was an introduction to a new charity engagement platform, whatCharity, presented by Founder, Tiia Sammallahti.

Launching in March, whatCharity is a platform for not-for-profit organisations to communicate with companies and supporters, allowing them to engage in a variety of ways, from donating goods or money, to volunteering and matching up charity needs with CSR initiatives.

Tiia gave an outline of the journey that led her to create whatCharity, as well as a sneak-peak at the platform on attendee’s smart phones, before answering questions.

Every charity in the UK will be listed on the site, so if you’d like to find out more about the platform and what your page will look like, please contact Shona on Shona@WhatCharity.com

If you’d like to join the next edition of The Breakfast Club: London, this Spring, please get in touch!

Evenings and weekends only…

It’s a new year and rather than look forward to the year ahead, we’re going to look back at giving in 2017. A report from the Co-op, released just before Christmas showed that women are both more likely donate money to and volunteer for charities, whereas, men donate significantly more money on average, per year.

The stats in isolation might seem a little uninteresting, I mean, what’s the difference between a man and a woman with regards to charity? Not a great deal – if you have a sick relative, you may well support a charity that focuses on that condition, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or woman. So why is there such a discrepancy in giving, especially in volunteering? I believe the answer may well lie in what charities can offer and how they offer it.

Based on research from the Co-op

The sector as a whole is getting better at recognising the need to diversify its support models, moving away from a reliance on and channelling everyone towards regular giving. Instead, charities are looking more broadly at different supporter touch-points; slowly learning that engaging with a charity needs to be on a supporter’s level, not the charity’s.

Despite the improvements, the stats show that men still aren’t volunteering anywhere close to the level of women – this can only be down to a lack of opportunity to do something that is both rewarding and interesting, and that activity being marketed in the right way.

So, it’s over to you! There’s a great untapped resource of volunteer hours if only someone would channel it in the right way. Why not think about what help you need, how you advertise it and see if there’s a way you can garner a whole new army of support.

Global Gift Gala Dubai

The Global Gift Gala returned to Dubai for its fifth consecutive year on Thursday. The star-studded event was held in the Palazzo Versace in aid of Dubai Cares, Harmony House and victims of hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

The Global Gift Gala is a unique international initiative from the Global Gift Foundation, a charity founded by Maria Bravo that is dedicated to philanthropic events worldwide; to help raise funds and make a difference towards children and women across the globe.

Guests were treated to performances of ‘Despacito’ from international star Luis Fonsi, a rousing rendition from Asian soprano Seia Lee, and a special performance from the Emirates Community Symphonic Orchestra. Those lucky enough to attend the sold-out event also enjoyed cuisine from two-star Michelin chef, Mansour Memarian.

The Global Gift Gala, presented and sponsored by CINDY CHAO The Art Jewel, Huda Beauty, and Cocobay Vietnam, hosted international stars such as Adrien Brody, Vanessa Williams, Luis Fonsi, and Alesha Dixon at the annual black-tie charity evening, with Tom Urquhart emceeing the event. The event as attended by stars and entrepreneurs including Founder, Maria Bravo and EastofEden’s very own Nick Ede, who is the worldwide ambassador of Global Gift Foundation.

Hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars was raised from the charity auction, with an artwork by famed British artist Sacha Jafri taking the highest bid and a painting from Adrien Brody, which sold for $42,000.

2017 is the ‘Year of Giving’ in the UAE, and in keeping with the motif 100% of funds raised during the Gala will go towards supporting programs in five different continents making it a truly global gala in partnership with Dubai Cares. Together with Global Gift Foundation, both entities will see projects in India (Harmony House), Europe, America and Asia benefitted, and a donation being made on behalf of Global Gift Foundation to Puerto Rico which was recently left devastated by Hurricane Maria, with 100% of proceeds going to charity.

Special awards were handed out to Vanessa Williams, Lucy Bruce, and Charlotte Knight for their philanthropic pursuits. British singer, model & TV presenter and Honorary Chair Alesha Dixon presented Vanessa Williams with The Global Gift Excellence Award for her continuous contribution to philanthropic causes, while Charlotte Knight was honoured with the Global Gift Philantropreneur Award, and Lucy Bruce was recognised for her work with Harmony House as the Global Gift Philanthropist Award.

A fabulous end to a year that has seen the Global Gift Gala and EastofEden travel everywhere from Edinburgh, to Dubai, London to Marbella.

Bethenny Frankel leads Hurricane Maria relief campaign

This recent month has seen an increase in the need for charitable and voluntary aid around the world, with hurricanes and earthquakes causing severe damage and tearing communities apart. Following this, we have seen many celebrities stepping up to donate and provide relief.

Bethenny Frankel, best known for the Real Housewives of New York City, has been on the ground in Puerto Rico working hands-on with national disaster charity Delivering Good, to provide relief to critical areas in need.

The CEO and reality star leading the #BStrong campaign has chartered planes, manually loaded supplies and has even encouraged other businesses to donate.

Similarly, other celebrities leading the way include Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and Pitbull who have all donated millions in relief efforts. This impressive response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico is something we love to see, and deserves championing.

92% of people still have no electricity and with the death toll continuously rising, the people of Puerto Rico still require aid and support.

Find out more about this amazing work at: http://www.bstrongdeliveringgood.org/bstrong/