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BNI NZ And Hospice Partnership Walks The Talk

BNI New Zealand and Hospice partnership walks the talk

Business commitment to community must extend beyond just handing over a cheque

By formally becoming Hospice New Zealand’s third “partner” at a recent function in Mt Eden, Auckland, business networking group BNI New Zealand put into practice its central philosophy of ‘givers gain’.

BNI New Zealand director, Graham Southwell, said it is no longer enough for organisations to simply hand over cash to charities and other community bodies and then walk away.

“It is important for business to engage with community groups at a more practical level. It’s easy to give money, but when you give your time, effort and other resources you really are practising ‘givers gain’,” he said.

BNI first aligned itself with Hospice in 2005 purely by raising $12,000 from a gold coin collection through the organisation’s chapters which are located in most suburbs around New Zealand. This increased to $35,000 in 2006 before peaking at more than $50,000 in 2007.

BNI also become the principal sponsor of the BNI Palliative Care Scholarship programme which sees 12 health care professionals continue their studies each year – and this year BNI donated $12,000 to the scholarship, to give a total figure collected for Hospice in 2007 of $62,678.00.

“Members from our more than 92 chapters countrywide held fundraising initiatives – including auctions, dinners, movie premiers, cycling events and fancy dress parties to raise funds – but they’re also looking at ways to meet the smaller needs of local hospices by filling their ‘wish lists’, for items such as chairs, photocopiers and other bits and pieces.

“We regularly invite hospice representatives to visit chapters to talk about Hospice, to educate and raise awareness in the business community and Hospice is always on our guest list for various functions,” said Graham.

Funds raised by each chapter are donated to that chapter’s local hospice of choice.

Representatives from eight of the nine Auckland Hospices were present at the function held to formally launch the BNI New Zealand/Hospice partnership. Guests included chief executive of Hospice New Zealand, Mary Schumacher, the president of Hospice New Zealand, Wilf Marley, national funding manager Rachel Thompson, representatives from the 41 BNI chapters in Auckland and friends of BNI.

Graham said BNI is predicated on the philosophy of ‘givers gain’.

“We were seeking a charity to align ourselves with. Hospice is a charity that is particularly compatible with BNI as it represents the efforts of the community for the community.

“BNI Internationally has a theme for 2008 of ‘Changing the Way the World Does Business’. What we are doing here is moving away from simply making an annual donation, towards entering into a true partnership with Hospice.

“To a certain extent this is a work in progress. Next year we will start working more closely with Hospice in terms of assisting them to achieve their goals. One of the first changes the chapters will see next year is the introduction of chapter websites – which will give a great opportunity for the 92 chapters to align themselves with one of the 37 Hospices which come under Hospice New Zealand,” he said.

President of the Hospice New Zealand executive committee, Wilf Marley, thanked BNI for its commitment to Hospice and told guests that his passion for Hospice never wanes, because as the Duchess of Kent said: "Hospices are places where tears and smiles walk side by side - it's quite extraordinary".

“The late Dame Cecile Saunders – the founder of hospices as we know them today – said: ‘You matter because you are you. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can to help you not only to die peacefully, but to also live until you die’.”


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