We really love the concept. 10×10 brings together like-minded young professionals who want to make a difference in society, who want to volunteer their time, as well as their money.
The setting: A WeWork space in a 19th century building overlooking London’s Devonshire Square. The vibe: Over 100 professionals in their 20s and 30s mingle while sampling food prepared by some of London’s best known chefs. The entertainment: Three innovative charities pitch their ideas to a panel of “Shark Tank”-like judges.
Networking event? No, this was a gathering organized by 10×10, an Australia-based not-for-profit that’s creating a new model for encouraging Millennials to engage in philanthropy. Just ask members of V&E’s London office who are becoming increasingly focused on supporting the organization.
It all started last summer when Dominic Kinsky, an associate in V&E’s Mergers & Acquisitions and Capital Markets London practice served on the committee of a 10×10 event. Inspired by Kinsky, V&E Finance senior associate Charlotte Lewis-Williams, Antonia George and trainee solicitor Freddie Wright decided to do the same. To date, V&E has already sponsored three 10×10 events. Now the firm is providing pro bono legal advice to the philanthropy.
“We really love the concept,” Lewis-Williams said. “10×10 brings together like-minded young professionals who want to make a difference in society, who want to volunteer their time, as well as their money.”
Created by three successful social entrepreneurs, 10×10 employs a simple model. Ten volunteers form a committee and they plan a fundraising event featuring three grassroots charities that are employing innovative solutions to combat complex social problems. The ten members of the committee each invite ten of their friends to attend, hence the name 10×10. Guests pay a set admission price, guaranteeing that the event will raise a base sum.
On the night of the event, the three charities each pitch their philanthropic approach to a panel of judges in the style of American TV show “Shark Tank” and UK show “Dragons’ Den.” Attendees then decide how they will allocate their admission dollars based on what they hear. They also have an opportunity to donate more money via raffles and auctions.
“There’s a bit of a competition element to it, so at the end of the evening all three charities make money but one may have made a lot more than the others, depending on how good their pitch was, and whether their pitch resonated with the audience,” George said.
The event committee works to cover all of the costs of the gathering by securing donations and free goods and services from sponsors. “The idea is that the event should be fully funded,” George said. “The money that attendees spend on tickets can then go to the three charities in the way that they see fit.”
This past November, George and Lewis-Williams helped organize the 10×10 event that took place at the WeWork space in Devonshire Square.
Co-sponsored by V&E, the food-themed evening featured pitches from three food-related charities: Haller, an organization that creates apps for farmers in Africa to help lift them out of poverty; Made in Hackney, a not-for-profit cooking school that promotes healthy and sustainable meals; and The Food Chain, a group that provides food and nutritional support to vulnerable and marginalized London residents living with HIV.
But it wasn’t just the charities that roused the crowd. Thanks to a committee member with connections in media, the committee was able to secure Iain Stirling, the voice of the UK dating reality show “Love Island,” to serve as auctioneer of the evening’s live auction. By the end of the night £20,959 was raised.
All in, three London 10×10 events organized by committees that included V&E lawyers have raised £65,000 and engaged more than 340 young professionals.
“V&E has been instrumental in 10×10 UK’s growth to date,” said Emily Stubbs, who launched 10×10 in London in December 2016 and is advising on the organization’s expansion in the UK. “Dom, Charlotte, Antonia and Freddie from V&E, who have sat on event committees, have brought endless energy, commitment and dedication to creating exceptional events that enable positive social change by supporting high-impact, grassroots charities who need both financial support and the skills and time of the young professionals they are pitching to.”
“The financial support V&E has provided for three of our events has also been critical to fundraising,” Stubbs added.
Now V&E’s London lawyers are channeling their enthusiasm for 10×10 in another way. Kinsky, Lewis-Williams, George, and Wright are doing pro bono legal work alongside V&E Finance partner John Dawson to establish the organization as a fully registered charity in the UK.
And that’s likely to be just the beginning of the London office’s relationship with 10×10 — and other philanthropies.
“We’re hoping to create excitement in the office and get more people involved,” Lewis-Williams said. “We’re inspired now to think more about what we can do to give back to the local community.”