Archive for July, 2013


Thursday, July 18th, 2013

By: Andjelka Matic



Dine for Life is an all-volunteer-based fundraising organization that started in 2009 with two girls wanting to ‘make a difference’ to the world around them, in their spare time, outside of their working hours. Four years and five events later, our organization has grown to an amazing annual fundraising event that donates 100% of the proceeds directly to the charities we are supporting.

The annual event has grown, seen volunteers come and go and Natasha and myself still remain at its helm driving it forward, eager to make it sustainable and continue to affect change in people’s lives who need it the most.

Up until this point, both myself and my partner-in-idealistic-crime Natasha have been dedicating our time in guiding this annual event to organically grow into something bigger and better each time.

It has grown and gathered enough momentum whereby it has now become too big to be run by two women, on a volunteer basis, without it taking over our lives completely and impacting our ability to earn a living.

Reality check time!

Dine for Life was a personal mission for us to prove that you can successfully run a fundraising organization or charity operated solely by volunteers, that would allow for a 100% donation model to be possible. Perfect! Why wasn’t EVERYONE doing it this way? Charities didn’t need overheads, they needed volunteers. We thought we had all the answers.

With each event, the eager and willing volunteers we brought into the fold at the beginning became exhausted and overworked by the end. Volunteering is an extracurricular activity but when so much work falls on a few key people, this time expands and takes over. It’s only natural that a university student is going to have to set aside her volunteer work in favour of studying for exams or an employee do the same to complete their work deadline.

Watching this reality unfold event after event and after a revolving door of volunteers to manage, Natasha and I were starting to see the idealism with which we began this project was starting to develop cracks. Yes sure, if only we could win Lotto and somehow find wealthy women and men who were not required to work for a living, who were just as passionate as we were and would “volunteer” what is essentially a full time work week in order to grow and develop this charity platform for helping the world.

And so we come to today.

Not only have we depleted most of our volunteer pool (to those amazing volunteers that are still with us and continuing to give your time and hard work, THANK YOU), dipped into our own pockets to fund expenses, taken time and resources from our own lives and businesses to make Dine for Life events as good as they can be and are now faced with the decision of expanding to be able to make more of a difference to the cause we support because what we have done has the power to change lives. It’s knowing this, that drives us to continue doing the work despite its challenges. I would never have imagined that Dine for Life would be where it is now or that we would be privileged enough to be able to help those less fortunate. And now that we have really harnessed our focus on the issue of human trafficking and other forms of exploitation of women and children, our drive, passion and determination to make any difference to those affected has truly been cemented.

The simple reality however, is that in order to move forward we need to rethink our position. I’m exhausted, Natasha is exhausted and now, instead of each event being an exciting adventure for us, it’s a case of anxious sideward glances in each others’ direction. Knowing how much work lies ahead, knowing we’re about to tackle another event with almost no volunteers and knowing that by the time the event is over we will be shadows of our former selves, trembling with exhaustion, praying for a pause button somewhere that can give us a few months off before embarking on the planning of the NEXT event. No such button exists, trust me, I have turned my house upside down looking for it.

So, with this picture painted, we look at the now. Natasha is eager to develop Dine for Life into a charity and I am still clutching at the last few shreds of my idealistic view on how it can be done the way we set out initially, if only we could find those perfect volunteers, and if only we could win Lotto.

I still struggle with all of my own personal judgments on charities and shake my head in disappointment when I hear that charities in some countries are required by law to give a meager 3% of their earnings to the cause itself.

Or the fact that a charity CEO can earn in excess of $200k to do this saintly work…where is the altruism in this? Where is the spirit of giving? Couldn’t some of that $200k be better spent on the people who really need it? These thoughts and judgments recycle themselves over and over in my mind and I know that these thoughts are ones I share with a large portion of the public. I too am the public. I too wanted to give everything while taking nothing. I believed that a charity could run and succeed and sustain itself long-term on the passion of a few. I think I may have been dreaming.

And then came the email.

Subject: Very interesting perspective – changed my view!

Sender: Natasha.

I highlight this email as a reminder to review at a later time and carry on with my day. Two days later I sit down and open it again, click on the link and the next 18 minutes revolutionises the way I think about charities. The speaker in the video is Dan Pallotta. I Wiki him and check to see any controversy surrounding his viewpoints or any critics but all I find is literature he’s written and critical acclaim on his viewpoints and perspective on the not-for-profit sector. I note his book title for purchase and forward the video link to everyone I know with whom I have had the conversation about charities making large profits and the CEO’s rolling in their Benzes and wait eagerly for their feedback.

In the meantime, I would like to share with you this same video and eagerly await your thoughts and feedback.