An exciting new networking opportunity has opened up for Not-For-Profits to join local Business Network International (BNI Australia) groups for free thanks to the intuitive of Braith Bamkin, Executive Director – BNI Melbourne Central, West & Geelong. I caught up with Braith to find out more.
‘Last year one of the Executive Directors from BNI in the United States trialed free membership for Not-For-Profits. It was a real win win situation. It was found by bringing in the Not-For-Profits they were able to tap into the business world, an area they don’t often tap into. By bringing the two communities together they both benefited.
‘It was so successful in the initial group that the local Executive Director rolled the initiative out across Florida. It enabled the Not-For-Profits to not only raise much needed funds but also to tap into business networks that could help with all their business needs. Within a BNI Chapter or group, all areas of business are represented from trades to IT. The Not-For-Profits found they were being offered services free or at subsidised rates, they were gaining quality products and services. On the other hand, the BNI business members would feel good because they could become involved in a charity they knew about.
‘When I heard about this I was really keen to introduce this to my BNI district which is the biggest in Australia with over 1,000 members. Two other Executive Directors, another in Melbourne and one in Sydney, also took it on. We are the ground breakers for Australia. We are all seeing positive results as it’s a real win win for everyone. It aligns with my personal philosophy and I happily fund this fully.
‘BNI was founded on the philosophy of givers gain. The whole organisation really believes in helping other people in being successful. It began 33 years ago in the garage of a man who was an amazing giver. His philosophy was, that to get business from anyone he’d have to help them to grow their business first. He genuinely wanted to learn about them and help them to grow their business.
‘At the Executive Director level we look at every action and how this action is helping the member. We really have givers gain ingrained and opening up to Not-For-Profits fits.
‘BNI also has a charity arm, Business Voices that started up about 20 years ago. Business Voices delivers educational opportunities in developing nations. There are lots of ties with Africa and India.
‘Through one of our Geelong BNI members, business coach Jem Fuller, we’ve been introduced to a project in India. The National Director in Australia took this on board and has started a stand-alone project. BNI supplied a learning annex with computers and internet access to the World Wide Web to help with the engagement of kids in India. It also helps micro business. This project is fully funded for 3 years.
‘It has led us to looking at how we could fund similar Educational programs here in Australia, to provide engagement and opportunity to communities in need. I’m excited about doing this in Australia, I want to see us giving back in a not-for-profit space.
‘There are a number of free charity memberships over the Geelong and Bellarine area available. I am keen for every Chapter to have one. For example, a local group has a member from the Ballarat Animal Shelter. She might ask for hay or help with working bees, the members love it, it makes them feels good. She said ‘I’ve never got to engage with type of business community before, they see my passion, it is built on relationships, they engage with me and my cause and want to help.’
‘There are groups in Geelong looking for the right fit re Not-For-Profit, it would just involve attending a 90 minute meeting once a week. BNI Network Connections – Business Networking Geelong, BNI Business Edge, BNI Waterfront Professionals, BNI Peninsula Professionals (Drysdale), BNI COASTAL CONNECTIONS, BNI Bellarine Business Network (Ocean Grove). Contact the local BNIs if you are interested.
Photo: members of BNI – Geelong Bay City