The Changing Face of Giving

Blog by Gus Row, CEO at TALKINGTECH Foundation 

During the eight years since the TALKINGTECH Foundation was set up, we’re proud to have distributed over $1.2M NZD to education and healthcare projects globally. Looking to the future, it’s likely that over the next four years, we’ll be in a position to grant an additional $1M to similar initiatives. Our commitment to the Foundation reflects TALKINGTECH’s commitment to “living life open handed” by:

  • Giving back to the community that has enabled our success
  • Giving away to a global world that faces many challenges
  • Giving forward to social innovators who are making a difference.

But being proud doesn’t make us satisfied. It’s about being effective and making an impact. TALKINGTECH values integrity, is determined to see good results for customers and committed to continuous improvement. So too the Foundation is passionate about doing things better.

Philanthropy is changing, and the Foundation’s board is determined to be at the edge of the changing nature of aid. Some of the ways this will be evident over the next few years are:

Local empowerment  

We’re committed to listening to people who are identifying issues in their own communities and dreaming up new solutions. We won’t impose or insist that things are done our way; rather we will support local activists who mobilise others. Our involvement in the development of SPAN – street parliaments in the Ekambarapillai slum area of Chennai in India – is a great example of this. Helping families to take ownership of the wide range of challenges they face, meant they were on the front line of the Government’s response to Chennai’s devastating floods.


We’ll focus on connecting people, ideas and resources and building partnerships because we believe that when people work together it’s not just efficient – it’s healthy. Our support of the Positive Pregnancy App project at the University of Waikato in New Zealand involved not just funding, but putting them in touch with high school teen parent groups and young parent mentoring services.

Safe fail is better than fail safe

For aid to create better outcomes our view is that we need to invest in social entrepreneurs.  They are people who are willing to take a few risks. This doesn’t mean endorsing reckless giving, but sometimes the aid sector does need to “take a punt”.  For example, when Gosa Karna moved his family to a poor rural part of India to start a school operating out of two small rooms, the Foundation paid for a well to provide clean water to the school’s 55 students. It was a venture with no guarantee of success, but the school has fully engaged the community and as a result, we’ve helped fund additional classrooms to provide a further 150 students with the opportunity to receive an education.

Aid is no longer just about sums of money. It is about people. The TALKINGTECH Foundation was founded to connect the amazing work of our team with people right around the world who are refusing to accept the status quo, and are making things better.

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