Using Your Sphere of Influence

by Mandy Nelson
Issue 1 - October 2014

Let’s face it: I am unlikely to come up with a plan that halts global climate change or calms the conflict in the Middle East any time soon. That big-picture stuff is currently beyond my sphere of influence – but we at G&A always want to put something back into our own community and industry. That feels achievable. So, when way back in 2006 the production manager at G&A heard about a colleague connected to our industry being diagnosed with breast cancer, we were open to helping. This was in the days before there was public funding for the expensive treatment our colleague needed. We recognised there was an excellent chance we could actually make a difference to our colleague, potentially helping her back into work. G&A swung into action.

Our production manager decided the best way to raise money was to hold a ball and a charity auction. We calculated we needed to raise between $50,000 and $80,000, also known as truckloads, which of course then raised the question of how we could properly manage that sort of cash flow and keep it separate from G&A accounts. I came up with a solution. I set up a charitable trust – The Full Colour Trust – and I coerced three other print industry colleagues to join me as fellow inaugural trustees. The talented design team at G&A branded the event and created all the promotional material; our production manager temporarily became an event manager; and a bunch of hard-working volunteers across the design, advertising and print industry co-ordinated sponsors and got the ball rolling, so to speak. Everybody pitched in. People donated their artworks, their jewellery, booze, sporting memorabilia and all sorts of luxury goods and experiences for the auction. We smashed it. We raised over $80,000 in one fabulous, glittering night and we used most of it to pay for a course of Herceptin.

The inaugural Full Colour Trust Board of Trustees at the ball, 2006: Mike Dawson, Mandy Nelson, Nicci Becconsall, Bruce Gibson.

The Full Colour Trust was left with some small change and a reputation for throwing one helluva party. With a legal lifetime of 80 years under New Zealand law, the Trust is still a baby. My vision for it has always been to grow it and carry on helping colleagues in our industry who face a crisis and can’t get sufficient help from private insurance or the public health system, and get them back into work. The Full Colour Trust continues to do exactly that, having paid out more than $121,000 to beneficiaries since 2006 to fund ear surgery, hearing aids, brain surgery, alternative cancer treatment, child care, and long-distance transport to visit an injured child in hospital among other things.

There is more! Not only was G&A instrumental in creating The Full Colour Trust, our team has also been intimately connected with Dress for Success Christchurch. This charity works in Christchurch and Canterbury to get between 300 and 400 women on the pathway back into paid employment annually. Over the past two-and-a-half years, G&A has supplied complete marketing services to the Christchurch affiliate of the international charity. In that time, we’ve created a tele ad for them, branded their glitzy fundraising gala events and their more prosaic clothing sales; and created signage, print ads, newsletters and brochures – all at no cost. It seems our efforts have been noticed: the gala event branding look we created has been picked up by other affiliates overseas.

Other charities, causes and start-ups we have helped include The Court Theatre and The Court Foundation, The Champion Centre, and Rubble Artists Editions. For The Court, we reworked the logo, and offered branding and marketing advice over many years. For The Court Foundation, we designed a logo, wrote text and designed brochures. We developed a print ad campaign for the wonderful Champion Centre. Start-up enterprise Rubble taught us about practical gifting partnerships between enlightened business people and a young entrepreneur, in order to promote emerging artists and develop a new creative commercial reality. We lent Rubble our display space for their exhibition. We love all these local organisations that inspire us in some way and are so proud we have been able to make a difference to them. Let’s encourage and support those entities in Christchurch who work within their sphere of influence in unexpected or altruistic ways that contribute to their business communities and our city’s regeneration.