Meaning at Work: Conference Report

Meaning at Work: Conference Report

Every November, people from around the UK and Europe congregate in the small seaside city of Brighton, on the south coast of England, for a business conference. However, this is a business conference with a difference.

Styled as a gathering for people who feel that business must be a positive force in the world, the Meaning conference sets out to “discover new ways of working, living and organizing that put humanity and planet above profit and growth.” Again this past November, from big business to small, famous faces to new entrepreneurs, over 500 delegates came together to share their stories and find new ways to do business better.

With such a progressive and open audience, I was delighted to be invited to run a workshop session on The Power of Giving for The Life You Can Save. This would also be my first time in front of an audience since starting to work with The Life You Can Save earlier in the year, so I was just a little nervous too. I needn’t have worried, as everyone was very friendly and keen to learn about why people give. Exploring the different motivations that we have for giving both our time and money to charities, I was able to encourage participants to think about effective giving as part of their overall portfolio. We also examined the evidence base around how effective corporate giving can increase satisfaction and employee retention.

The highlight of the sold-out, hour-long session was undoubtedly the Giving Game where attendees were split into groups and presented with three charities (Against Malaria Foundation, Give Directly and Midlands Air Ambulance). Provided with information about all three, groups were then given £250 in cash and asked to decide where they would like to donate the money. It was fascinating to watch the debate develop on the tables as participants started to consider the impact of their donations. I wish that we had had another hour as I think that there were more questions to ask and issues to explore than we had time to uncover. At the end of the Giving Game each group came up with handfuls of £5 notes to donate to their chosen charities.  The final results were: the Against Malaria Foundation received £105, Give Directly received £120 and Midlands Air Ambulance received £25.

At the end of the session, I was delighted when people stopped to tell me how much they had enjoyed it and how it had challenged some of their thinking. People were going home thinking about how they might give differently.  Charity representatives were considering how they might demonstrate the impact made by their organizations.

As the day wrapped up, I reflected on the impact of The Meaning conference itself. 2016 was undoubtedly a tumultuous year and the future direction for business in the UK is still unclear as we approach Brexit. However what is clear from both the speakers and the delegates is that there are enough people who understand that now more than ever we need to redouble our efforts to deliver sustainable societal and environmental progress alongside profits. Now is a time for us to step up as leaders. Leadership does not relate to your job title or salary but is something that we all possess in the way that we treat people, in the choices that we make about how we spend our money and yes, in how we donate our money too.

I was glad that The Life You Can Save was able to contribute to the conference. Our message about the impact that we can all make through effective giving, as individuals and organizations, clearly resonated with people. I left feeling inspired and determined to do more and I look forward to connecting with The Life You Can Save supporters across the UK and Europe in 2017 to increase our impact still further.

If you would like to host a Giving Game, The Life You Can Save has an extensive range of materials available on our web site to support you in getting up and running. Please contact Chief Operating Officer and Director of Philanthropy Education Jon Behar for more information.

Nick Hopkinson
Nick Hopkinson
A technologist by background, Nick has spent his career working in the UK health sector where he is currently the Chief Information Officer for a mental health organisation in the English National Health Service. A life-long supporter of international development charities, when he found The Life You Can Save, by a somewhat circuitous route involving Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, the connection was immediate. The idea that an individual can increase their positive impact on the world by directing their giving to the most effective charities was so simple and powerful that he dedicated himself to helping spread that message.
The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.

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