In conversation with UnLtd CEO, Chris Freel
We wanted to do something a little different for our most recent rooftop party in Sydney. We wanted to have an awesome night AND help them community, so we decided to sell tickets and give all proceeds to a local charity. We chose UnLtd as our charity of choice for our Sydney rooftop party. They’re a social purpose organisation that connects the media, marketing and creative industry with charities working with at-risk children and young people. Their purpose to ensure that every young Australian has the opportunity to fulfil their potential is something that resonated with our team and we couldn’t think of a better organisation to support.
A big thanks to everyone who came to our party – with your ticket purchase, we managed to raise $520 for UnLtd! We also sat down and had a chat with UnLtd’s CEO, Chris Freel (you may have met him at our rooftop party!) to learn a bit more about UnLtd and how organisations within the creative, media and marketing space can get involved and do good.
How did UnLtd start?
UnLtd was started by Kerry McCabe around 15 years ago. Kerry has had a long career in the advertising industry and knew the power and influence that we hold as an industry. When the devastation of the Boxing Day tsunamis happened, he knew he needed to do something to help. So he did. He rallied around all his industry mates to donate media inventory that was auctioned off at a gala dinner, with all proceeds going to charities helping children at risk. And that’s how UnLtd started.
Since then, we’ve grown a lot and whilst funding is still key part of what we do, the real impact comes from giving our industry the power to help by using their skills and networks for good. We match the skills and resources of the media, marketing and creative industry with the needs of carefully selected charities creating real change for young people at risk.
What are the benefits of partnering with UnLtd rather than working directly with a charity?
The feedback we get from a lot of our corporate partners is that they want to help but just don’t know how. There are over 70,000 charities in Australia and so many causes that you could support, they often feel overwhelmed about where to start or how best to help. That’s where we come in. We carefully select charities that are doing impactful work that creates long-lasting, generational change for some of the most vulnerable young people in the country. We then match the needs of those charities with the expertise and passion of the corporate partner. In simplest terms, it could be a digital agency creating a new website for a charity or it could be bringing multiple partners and their expertise together to create our ‘Big Bet’ campaigns that get seen across the media landscape to fight big issues such as mental health or bullying.
Our key ethos is to create mutual value. We know that our industry, and especially the young people in our industry want to work for companies that do good in the world, they want to make a positive difference in the world and have meaning and purpose in their roles. Whilst what our industry can give to our charity partners is invaluable, it also creates a positive impact for the corporate partners in terms of staff motivation and retention.
How can organisations give back through UnLtd? Is there one thing you recommend the most?
A key part of what we do is that we tailor all our solutions to match our partners. We will start with a company discovery to understand what the company’s objectives are, what the staff are passionate about and what the skills and resources are that can be offered. We then match those with the charity partners’ needs to build powerful partnerships. We also have many partners who support us through our 30+ events throughout the year that bring the industry together over cricket, surfing, soccer, netball or many other sports, to compete against their peers whilst raising funds for UnLtd. We also offer a workplace giving program that makes easy to make an impact with minimal effort. I recommend all of them of course but the best thing to do is to have a chat with us so we can create a solution that makes the biggest impact for both sides.
What are some of your most memorable experiences working with UnLtd?
Spending a night in prison and being shouted by prison guards definitely was memorable! But it was all for a good cause, of course. In support of our charity partner Whitelion, we locked up over 200 senior people across the industry behind the bars for a night to help them experience what life is like for so many young people our charities support and to raise funds for Whitelion. I don’t think any of us will ever forget that experience!
Is there a particular moment or initiative that you’re most proud of?
In the last 2 years, we have gotten the industry together to launch our first ever social enterprise and create and launch a consumer facing product – MOOD tea. It’s a tea that tastes good, looks good and does good with all profits going to youth mental health initiatives. In July this year, we secured a partnership with Woolworths that saw MOOD tea stocked at all their stores across the country. Seeing the tea on the shelves in my local Woolies for the first time was a proud moment – to my knowledge, this is the first time an entire industry has worked together to create a product to make social change and I feel so proud of the team but also all our industry partners who made this possible.
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Finally, how can organisations get started with UnLtd?
Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you are looking for a corporate partnership or with email@example.com if you would like to get involved with our events. And in the meantime, head to your nearest Woolworths store and buy some delicious MOOD tea!