10×10 Auckland | March 2021


Dragon’s Den for giving: The live event where charities sell themselves to donors

There are 27,800 registered charities in New Zealand. 10×10 Philanthropy offers a helping hand to the ones that can create the most impact.

Roughly seven years ago, when Lee Nicolson was driving her daughter home from hospital after a ski accident, her phone rang.

“I believe you’re coming home from hospital today?” a woman on the other end said. “Would you mind telling me what time you might be home?”

Nicholson said she’d be home in 15 minutes. “I’ll see you in 30,” came the reply.

Just as Nicolson was lifting her daughter out of the car and onto the sofa, a woman arrived with a luxurious gift basket bulging at the seams with goodies. Nicolson and her daughter had been anonymously nominated to receive a gift basket from charity Baskets of Blessing.

The volunteer-led, Queenstown-based charity organises donations of products, time and money to deliver anonymous, surprise gift baskets and frozen meals to people suddenly experiencing life challenges.

Having experienced first-hand how meaningful these random acts of kindness could be, Nicolson joined as a volunteer and is now coordinator of the organisation.

Last year, when Covid-19 hit, demand for Baskets of Blessing skyrocketed and it became an essential service.

“For the two years prior to lockdown we would deliver approximately 200 meals a month and about 20 baskets per month,” Nicolson says. “Come April, during our busiest week, we dispatched a 1000 meals and we did over 500 baskets.”

Just when they needed it most, the charity was chosen to participate in a live crowdfunding event called 10×10 Philanthropy which netted it an extra $6,000 – a significant amount right before Christmas.

10×10 Philanthropy was founded in 2013 by a group of young friends living in Sydney, and now has branches in 14 cities all around the world, including Auckland. The premise is simple; a committee of 10 volunteers invite 10 people each to pledge $100, which acts as their ticket to attend a fundraising evening.

The event follows a Dragon’s Den style formula where charities are given five minutes to explain why they deserve to receive the donations, followed by a question and answer session with a “Dragon for Good” who invites the charities to pitch for funds.

Guests are then given the money they pledged in the form of charity dollars and choose how they would like to distribute it between three charitable organisations.




“To have the opportunity to participate in something where we could get a significant sum of funds was quite game-changing for a group such as ours,” says Nicolson. “What I loved about it particularly was that there were a lot of wonderful, like-minded, inspiring young professionals in the room.”

Nicolson wanted to make sure Baskets of Blessing never had to turn down a nomination for someone deserving of a basket or meal.

“Having the opportunity to have some funds to buy what we’re not donated, to allow us to cook and provide for families, was massive,” she says. “The funds were so incredibly valuable to our need and to our desire to put the perfect customised packages together. If everyone does a little something you can help so many more people.”

Alaina McGregor, the head of 10×10’s Auckland branch, first came across the 10×10 concept when she was living in Sydney. After seeing the difference the format was capable of making, and after returning to New Zealand in 2018, she decided to start a branch here.

“I’d been quite engaged in charity and fundraising for quite a while and I’d done some volunteer work in Cambodia and India. With a background in PR and comms, I could see straight away I could add value. I absolutely loved the concept so I quickly set about shoulder tapping people and putting the call out for my own volunteers.”




10×10 held its first Auckland event in 2019 and raised $14,000. When Covid-19 hit, it was clear people needed 10×10 even more. So they kept going, albeit online, with volunteers organising an entire event via Zoom.

Some international branches moved the entire process online, including the Dragon’s Den-style evening, but the Auckland 10×10 volunteers were keen to hold it in person.

“Because we were coming out of lockdown earlier [than other countries] we were keen to pursue that live event. It’s hard to recreate that atmosphere and energy that you get in the room,” McGregor says.

A second event was held in October 2020 which raised $21,000. Encouraged by this success, McGregor now has her sights set on organising two to three events per year and going nationwide.

As a “Dragon for Good” at 10×10’s October event, Simplicity CEO Sam Stubbs was impressed with the level of entrepreneurship being displayed by social enterprises.

“We get asked for money all the time and you have to realise it’s a competitive market so just meaning well, just having a good idea, is not enough. You have to present it well and show a scalable, enduring model for delivering goodness,” says Stubbs.

“My advice was to think competitively about how you position yourself. All these other charities are wonderful and also your competition. You have to have your competitive hat on.”

Ultimately McGregor hopes to inspire a generation of young people to use their privilege and time to do good.

“That’s why I launched 10×10 in New Zealand,” she says. “Its innovative model gives young people the chance to get involved in social change, in a way that directly leverages their skills and resources to support the many grassroots charities doing compelling work in our community.”

Of course, it doesn’t come entirely without reward, because McGregor enjoys seeing the volunteers organise the events and watching it all come together on the night. “I love seeing our volunteers and project committees blossom during our three month planning process. What I love about 10×10 is that it instills that philanthropic attitude that will stay with people forever.

“There are so many charities that need support and the 10×10 model is a really valuable way to provide funding and drive awareness of the good they do in our communities.”

The next 10×10 event is scheduled for March 18 at GridAKL, and the three charities that are pitching have been chosen because they either support women or have been founded by trailblazing women. The “Dragon for Good” will also be a high profile female leader.



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