I joined BeMORE because I liked the idea of having a forum to discuss things you don’t really get to discuss in other areas of your life: your motivations and causes you’re passionate about. You don’t necessarily get the chance to talk about these things with friends or in other situations, but they’re a key driver of what you find important. The attraction for me was to sit and have discussions with well-informed people who could draw on different experiences. And once I’d joined my group, it was really interesting to bounce off other people who I probably wouldn’t have met elsewhere.
I didn’t know any of the other group members before I started. I really enjoyed that, because I would have been hard-pressed to find a situation where I would have come across them in any other way. That’s one of the best components of BeMORE: you meet a completely different group of people that you otherwise might not, and they’re fascinating and well-informed and good to spend time with and debate things with.
I felt like our group learnt through doing. We came with different ideas. It helped that we had filled out our care profiles using the app – without that, it might have been difficult. I really wanted to do something environmental, but that got knocked off the agenda early on! Actually, I didn’t mind that – it was more interesting to see something I thought I wanted to do rejected by the group, yet I still found it a very positive experience.
Through the course of discussions and debates, we weeded certain things out and started seeing things we all agreed on. We came up with a framework for what our idealised charity would look like, then went to find a charity that mapped across to our criteria. There was a lot of acceptance of the process being king. We put together a whole load of questions, with a scale to rank potential charities. That made the group feel comfortable with the process of choosing a project, because it was metrics-based and driven by evidence – though other groups might find different processes work better for them.
It helps to decide on a structure at the beginning and stick to it, like agreeing that you will meet every month, and understanding the things each of you need to do between meetings. You need to make sure you do those things and follow up on your actions.
Ultimately, we decided to give money to HERA. It supports women in Eastern Europe who have been involved in sex trafficking by helping them set up businesses and find work opportunities. It’s focused on helping women through education, training and the capacity to change their lives by giving them a sustainable income.
It wasn’t an area where I would have thought I wanted to go, funding-wise, but I was still really glad about our decision. It suddenly clicked when we got to charity level – it mapped to our metrics for what we wanted in the clearest way, and it’s a transformational charity.
What we wanted to do with our £10,000 donation was quite high risk: giving grants to women to start up businesses. There’s a high degree that some of the businesses will fail, and that’s an interesting dynamic in itself. But we felt happy with the good our donation would do.
The greatest part of being in a group for me was having a forum to discuss these thoughts and ideas with other people – some of who were likeminded, some who were not, but chance to discuss stuff in depth with them was fantastic. I found it very rewarding to wrap my mind around the process of it all, gaining insight into how best to structure these group decisions. I gained a lot from learning about that kind of process and really thinking about it, as well as enjoying the interpersonal side of things. Thinking about the process really activated an interest in me.
In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I decided to become a BeMORE mentor. I’ve been very actively involved since completing my group: mentoring, attending events and recommending it to others. Ultimately, BeMORE is a group that gives you the skills and training to be able to get better at philanthropy. I really enjoyed it.