Article by Debra Brunner
I was persuaded that it would be worth it. For sure it was an opportunity to tell 50 business people that there was a new charity in town. What I wasn’t told – was that the meeting was at 6am on a Friday morning!! Really?? I set my alarm and braved the cold dark rainy morning. It was a pivotal moment and one that changed things for the charity in so many ways.
Who knew that at six in the morning, every Friday, members of this BNI network all over the UK, no, all over the world, were networking, having lively breakfast meetings, developing their relationships and doing business! Lot’s of business! At that first meeting, I was invited to stand up and tell the members about The Together Plan. I was given 45 seconds to speak. Whatever it was that I said in those 45 seconds grabbed the attention of Michael Anvoner, the wills and probate solicitor. He left his card and asked me to come and see him. The meeting that subsequently followed led to a donation that covered my membership to BNI Chipping Chapter for the following year. BNI allows one of any trade or profession to be represented in any one chapter. Since there was no charity member at Chipping, I was allowed to apply. The application is not automatic and I had to wait to be approved. It was definitely a commitment – since it is obligatory to attend weekly meetings, but of course, it meant that I would get to know my fellow members and they would get to know me, which in turn meant that I would be able to recommend my fellow members and they, in turn, would help and support me. Suddenly and just like that The Together Plan had a support network. It was down to me to educate the members about The Charity and to invest time learning about my fellow members in turn, but what an incredible opportunity this was.
Seven years on, I can safely say that that first donation that enabled me to join BNI and taking that step to submit the membership application was one of the best decisions ever made. Here’s why. The first week as a member, I spoke about trying to raise money to send a container of humanitarian aid to Belarus by the time the snow came. Neil Ryner of Ryner & Partners (mortgage broker) asked me how much was needed. I told him £2500. The following week he came to me with pledges totalling £2000. All I had to do was make the calls and reign in the pledges. It was extraordinary.
Year on year the members have supported The Together Plan in so many ways. They continuously donate in-kind donations to the Aid Together Project, they sponsor, they support my annual membership, they offer pro-bono services, some have done personal challenges – a trek in Cambodia and climbing the Three Peaks, and then there was the group who jumped out of an aeroplane – myself included….you can watch me doing that here! This October we have our Zoymen virtual online conference and the following members are all sponsoring sessions:
David Jacobs from SRJ Accounting, Hak Huseyin of Absolute Print, Hem Chauhan of Curlicue (environmentally friendly wrapping paper), Neil Ryner of Ryner & Partners, Michael Anvoner of Michael Anvoner Solicitors, Jonathan Bennett of Boots Opticians in Cockfosters, Matthew Lloyd-Winder Stained Glass artist Winderlite and Andrea Georgiou from ASAP Clearances.
On 29th August, we will be participating in the Maccabi Fun Run at StoneX Stadium in Mill Hill, north London. 7 people will be running for us on the day. One at the stadium, two in Liverpool and four in Belarus. In Belarus, although there are many assault courses and running events that take place it is unheard of to participate to support a cause. People enter them solely for reasons of personal challenge, but on the 29th August, 4 runners in Minsk who have learned about the work of The Together Plan have offered to participate in a challenge trial taking place in Soligorsk, south of Minsk and their efforts will be to fundraise for a very specific project. They wanted to raise funds for the production and installation of a memorial bench at the site of the Jewish Cemetery in Minsk, now a park, in the name of one of the 100,000 Jews who were killed in the Minsk Ghetto. Minsk college students, who this year, participated in The Together Plan’s Making History Together Holocaust Education Programme, will design and make the bench.
In one week, members of BNI Chipping Chapter stepped up to sponsor the team in Belarus and helped them to hit their target. Of course – if more can be raised – a second bench will be possible and donations can be made by clicking here.
The BNI Chipping Chapter is a tour de force. The members have been and continue to be a phenomenal support network to The Together Plan. So the least we can do is tell you who is in the Chapter and to that end – if you are in the north London area and find yourself reading this article and in need of a trade or service please contact us here, we would be delighted to recommend and make introductions. And if you are in other parts of the UK or indeed the world, let me know as I will be happy to refer you to a BNI member in your area who will be able to help you. Remember – it’s a global network, and if we can help to bring the members business, they, in turn, will want to support us. That’s how BNI works!
Chipping Chapter BNI members as of August 2021: