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Ben Rochelle’s BeMORE experience

Being generous is good for you.

When we give something to another person there is a physiological response: our brain gets a boost of feel-good endorphins – the same ones associated with a runner’s high. Oxytocin, the same hormone released during intense exercise, floods the body, lowers stress and makes us feel more connected to other people.

BeMORE provides a channel for generosity. It brings people together from a range of jobs and backgrounds for ten weekly sessions in groups of 6-8. Each group explores what it means to live generously and understands more about the causes that inspire them. There are talks at each session from lifelong dedicated philanthropists working in the heart of UK political and commercial life to leading academics studying the subject of human generosity.

Each BeMORE group finds the cause that motivates them before identifying charities that they would be interested in backing financially and with their own gifts and time guided in their search by experts in the area of giving. As part of the programme each member of the group puts in a minimum donation to their shared giving pot which goes to the charity they end up supporting.

My BeMORE group last autumn chose a charity whose aims and purpose resonated with us all – Children Heard and Seen. For a long time I’ve had an interest in prison reform and rehabilitation but never considered the impact the prison system can have on the children of prisoners. 60% of children who have parents in the prison system go onto offend themselves and children of prisoners are more likely to experience poverty, poor housing, social exclusion, poor physical health and aggressive behaviour. Children Heard and Seen steps into the life of a child who has a parent in prison at a pivotal time ensuring that the child has the critical support, encouragement and tuition that is needed.

Other BeMORE groups have donated nearly half a million pounds to a range of causes from creating new wards for a hospital in Madagascar; helping vulnerable young people find employment in London; and equipping formerly trafficked Eastern European women to start their own businesses.

The BeMORE experience has confirmed to me that as humans we are designed to give and live generously. This can take us out of our comfort zone at times but it’s also liberating and joyful uniting us to others in profound ways.

Sara Sherwani’s BeMORE experience

‘After completing BeMORE and getting back to a ‘normal’ work routine, I started to find myself slightly lost. I realized BeMORE made me recognise how much I enjoy giving back and that it’s an integral part of who I am – If I’m not doing it, then something doesn’t feel right.

Since BeMORE, I’ve been involved in a project called Safeguarding Beyond Borders with a charity named Jeena. We work strategically with the Homeoffice & other NGOs to support victims of abuse by offering counselling, advocacy & assistance with immigration/migration processes if applicable – typically victims of Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage, Domestic Servitude & FGM.

Unfortunately, statistics show that in the case of forced marriage for example minority groups in the UK are more likely to be affected. So we’re undertaking a global campaign to underpin hard research to support the prevention of these issues, influence authorities and change hearts/minds. BeMORE was certainly an important part of my journey towards making a difference in the non-profit sector and I’ll be forever grateful. First stop is India! ‘

“What’s the next step?”

A question I still find it difficult to answer. Nicolette Wolf, CEO of BeMORE asked my team this question after our final BeMORE presentation. As far as we were concerned this was the end of a year long process to choose a deserving charity to donate one thousand of our hard earned pounds to.

We had spent the last few weeks prepping a presentation to explain our process and name our chosen charity to a group of friends, family and fellow BeMORE people. The slide deck was ready, our audience were sat comfortably and the last minute tweaks were fresh in our minds. We even had a giant cheque to hand over.

As we spoke we clicked through slides featuring pictures of us from every monthly meeting. A visual review of the year as much as a verbal one. Each of us talked about a different aspect of what we learnt – the importance of listening, of asking the right questions and staying true to our vision. Finally we opened up the floor and then we were asked the big question.

Some had inspiring and well thought out answers. But I was dumbfounded. Where does my giving journey go now? After a structured year-long process I hadn’t thought about the future. After 3 weeks I still don’t have any solid answers but I know that the last year of thinking and talking about giving responsibly with an interesting group of people with a wide variety of experience will help me. Maybe like one member of the group I’ll give 10% of my earnings to charity. Perhaps I’ll get involved with one of our runner up charities or become a mentor for another BeMORE group. Either way – watch this space!

Who is a Philanthropist?

Between 12-2.00pm every weekday it appears that every working Londoner pops out to Pret a Manger, EAT or M&S for lunch. And there’s a new one opening each week too. It’s quick, easy, gets you a ten-minute breath of fresh air and only sets you back by about £5.50.

Philanthropy is a concept many think is only for the super rich, the Bill Gates or the Richard Bransons of this world, or at least those with a nice house and a couple of million in the bank. But as I learnt from my experience of working with BeMORE this is far from the case.

BeMORE pairs up a group of strangers in one big friendly termly cohort and asks them to donate around £5,000 plus collectively, or a minimum entry donation of £500 each to charity through BeMORE giving groups. A mentor guides them through a process to decide on which charity to donate the money to. They also hear inspiring talks and are take through a programme learning how to give well (written in collaboration with Dr Beth Breeze).

Sounds like a lot to give away? It works out at about equivalent to £5.50 per week day, a bit less than that take out lunch.

Though this experience I have met a highly talented and interesting group of people that I would never have met otherwise. The group members include a charity founder, a tech start-up entrepreneur and an academic. Not the stereotypical philanthropists I had in mind!

My BeMORE Experience has been wonderful. We’ve challenged each other, learnt from each other, relied on each other, turned from a group of strangers to a group of friends and worked to give the amazing total of £20,000 away to an amazing charity.

It’s taken us to unforeseen places; we have been invited to the House of Lords, been to a cocktail party on HMS President and attended a networking event in a Victorian Mansion on the banks of the Thames (and the basement of Somerset House!)

We have come up with a strict criteria for selecting the charity that we will all contributed to and currently have the job of finding the perfect charity for our donation.

We will work with the selected charity to discuss what impacts we will be able to have with this money, where they most urgently need funds and ensure their business model is well adapted for long-term success. This may include volunteering or offering strategic advice.

Overall The BeMORE experience has given us all a far more in depth and critical perspective to donating to charity, we have met new people and learnt a huge amount in the process.

£5.50 well spent!

What is philanthropy?

What does philanthropy mean, and how can we make it relevant?

The word ‘philanthropy’ conjures up an image of ultra-wealthy individuals, donating – or pledging to donate – substantial portions of their wealth for the benefit of individuals and society; think Bill & Melissa Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or Warren Buffet.  Whilst it’s an honourable cause, for many of us, that seems to be beyond our reach, requiring vast reserves of wealth.  Does this put you off philanthropy, or put it out of reach? It shouldn’t. Philanthropy is traditionally seen as the desire to promote the welfare of others, and whilst this is often via the generous donation of money to good causes, increasingly – especially among the millennial generation – it’s seen as the opportunity to give your time, money, knowledge, expertise, opinions and network to a cause, which for most of us is much more achievable.

A report by the Charities Aid Foundation* summarises what matters to the new generation of givers, and how their attitudes might shape the future of philanthropy. The three key themes of the report are:

Leveraging networks

Millennials thrive on engagement, valuing their networks and giving together. They are also more willing to shout about what they’re doing. So, in future we can expect to see more strength in numbers and more people power, multiplying the impact of an individual’s giving.

Global causes

Of the top 5 charitable causes, millennials are more able to see the bigger picture than givers aged over 45.  They are more concerned with broader, global causes and tackling the big themes, with a greater interest in poverty, the environment and education. Those aged over 45 are influenced far more by causes ‘close to home’ and favour giving to causes related to children and cancer.

Hands-on approach

Lastly, millennials are more strategic and hands-on, really getting stuck in to get impact from their giving. They are much more likely to want to get involved by offering skills support or volunteering time than their older counterparts, despite similarly busy lives. This means we can expect more innovation, more experimentation, more long-term relationships with causes and charities, and more focus on leverage.

Read the full report here:

How does BeMORE encourage philanthropy?

BeMORE helps you discover philanthropy by allowing you to explore how you can make most difference to the lives of others, and discover how to maximise the impact of your giving.

The BeMORE approach creates giving groups, enabling individuals to multiply their personal impact by giving in a group.  You will meet other, like-minded Londoners with shared values and join the BeMORE community.

Through the BeMORE programme you discover the causes and issues that are important to you, have the opportunity to debate and learn about others’ passions, and explore how to have the most impact, enabling you to become an effective giver.  You will learn practical skills of charity management, and make a significant difference to a charity that you meet, and work with, face-to-face.

BeMORE helps you discover what philanthropy is all about, and how to make a difference by creating impact and multiplying your personal efforts. You will discover your ‘voice’ and recognise your ability to make an impact. At the end of your BeMORE programme you will be confident in the knowledge and direction you want your lifelong philanthropic journey to take.

Here’s what one of our members, Kofi, said about his BeMORE experience:

BeMORE really appealed to me because you can give much more money by collaborating than you could by yourself. There’s much more benefit in the power of the team than in giving as an individual.

The greatest thing I learnt from BeMORE is how people from all different backgrounds and careers can come together to make something work well. BeMORE is not just about giving money – you’re making new friends at the same time, and making a long-term connection with a charity. You are helping people who are going to help more people.

Our group discussed things like whether we should do something that could benefit people longer-term or straight away, and how we could help the most people. There was lots of moral debate; should we invest in technologies and ideas with the potential to benefit millions in the future, or projects that were helping people right now? These discussions were the most interesting part for me.

We went out together, and had meetings at places we could eat and drink. That meant it didn’t feel like we were preparing to give away money – we were making friends. It’s much easier to do these things if you all get along. I feel like I’ve made some friends for life.

Read more about Kofi’s BeMORE experience here:

The Future Stars of Philanthropy – How the next generation can shape a bright future

Uncovering the work of small local charities

Written by Miranda

Tomorrow’s People is a national charity with local branches. It works to help people of all ages back into employment. It has a local branch in Hammersmith, and it is this office that was supported by BeMORE’s second group. Having honed in on youth opportunity as their area of interest, group 2 decided to support a London based charity, and selected Tomorrow’s People as its charity partner (

The mainstay of Tomorrow’s People work with young people is a course they run called ‘Working It Out’. Participants volunteer to take part, and over the course of 16 weeks, they build their confidence, improve their CVs and gain work experience with the support of the programme leaders. The aim of the course is to get the participants into paid work, and many succeed in finding jobs before the end of the course. In Hammersmith, there are usually around 12 young people on each course, and the centre aims to run four courses per year.

The centre wanted to employ an additional member of staff to increase its capacity to work with more young people. BeMORE’s group donation was put towards that staff member’s salary, and group members were really happy with that outcome. The existing programme leaders were really inspiring, and the success of the course depended largely on their ability to perform their role well. Enabling the centre to employ another equally talented member of staff was a great use of BeMORE’s money; charities struggle to find funding to meet core staff costs, as donors are often more interested in capital projects or specific causes, so BeMORE’s donation was well spent in an area where funding would otherwise have been hard to come by.

The group took time to decide that Tomorrow’s People was the right charity. It was a tough decision; they investigated many London-based charities, large and small, and found a huge amount of incredibly valuable activity going on in south and west London. The list was eventually whittled down to two: Tomorrow’s People and Shaftesbury Young People. Shaftesbury Young People is also a national charity, with one of its London centres in Clapham Junction. They were looking to establish an education centre in Battersea for teenagers excluded from school who would otherwise have no way of finishing their secondary education. Although the group decided not to work with Shaftesbury Young People in the long term, they were really inspired by their work, and subsequently decided to make a smaller donation to the Battersea centre. The majority of the group’s funding went to Tomorrow’s People, and a smaller amount was donated to SYP to recognise the time they took to explain their work, and the BeMORE group loved the idea of supporting another valuable local project.

BeMORE aims to encourage participants to give their time and talents, not just their money. Tomorrow’s People were great at engaging with the BeMORE group and suggesting ways to use their skills to help them. Two subsequent projects were also created: one to write and deliver a Working It Out group – a short session on personal financial budgeting, and the other to help Tomorrow’s People develop their social enterprise activities.

Generation Gap – How BeMORE is doing things differently

Written by Jo Colman

In late 2012, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) launched a report written by the Bristol University academic, Professor Sarah Smith, looking at the growing gap between the amount given by different generations currently and monitoring the historical trends to worrying conclusions. It is a fascinating report and contains some stark indications – such as 52% of all donations come from over 60s (compared with 35% thirty years ago) and that the over-60s are now more than twice as likely to give to charity as the under-30s.

I would urge you to read the report either in its entirety (it is only 16 pages!) or at least the overview of the report. For anyone interested in philanthropy, giving and the charitable sector this is an important report.

At BeMORE we are passionate about seeing young people who are starting out in their careers find the life affirming and positive effect that philanthropy can have on their communities and their outlook on life.

In the report’s foreword John Low, Chief Executive of CAF, gave 5 immediate actions:

  • Ensure young people grow up giving
  • Encourage young people to get ‘on board’
  • Bring Gift Aid into the Digital Age
  • Create strong culture of workplace giving
  • Introduce living legacies

I could not agree more strongly with the above actions. At BeMORE we are seeking to offer young people (20s -30s) an opportunity to ‘taste’ giving and philanthropy. A chance we offer in a safe and social environment where people who may never have given properly or in a sustained manner before can experience the opportunities that it has to offer.

Twelve per cent of the UK’s adult population is 18-24, yet just 0.5% of trustees are from this age group, including some members of our own trustee board; this is something that we are proud of and want to increase. This is an age group in a unique position, as when they start their path towards a career there are opportunities not found at any other point where giving can become a cornerstone of how they choose to do business.

Much like how environmental and human rights issues have become a core part of how we choose where and what we buy, this is an opportunity to change where and how we choose to work.

BeMORE wants to create a culture of giving not just in friendship groups, but also in work places. Especially within larger firms, match funding, payroll giving and internal CSR provide the opportunity to harness the power of a firm starting with a single action, creating the opportunity to transform how giving is seen and done for this generation.

At BeMORE we have continued to launch groups; 17 groups have been run or are currently underway, with over £1/4million given to the charitable sector already. We want to grow this, multiply this and partner this with anyone interested. If you are keen to join a group or find out more please get in touch via our Contact page


To download the report visit:

What our members get from BeMORE

I was a member of one of the first BeMORE groups, having met the charity’s founder at a networking event in London. I was looking for a placement in Africa so I could go and do some ‘good’ in my capacity as a young professional; he told me about BeMORE, and I thought it was an exceptionally clever idea! I was really excited about meeting a group of young professionals in a similar position, with a passion to make an impact in other people’s lives.

I made some really good friends and I learnt so much about team working, the art of debate, compromise, life, progression and things about myself and my personality. I found the sessions were a great escape from work and personal life, and I looked forward to seeing my group and making decisions together which would ultimately make a huge impact in the charity we chose to invest in.

For me personally, I wanted to give up my time as well as my ££s, so I volunteered with our chosen charity; whom I still have a great relationship with and I still volunteer in the summer programmes we invested in.

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