Creating Social Change // Elliot Costello

By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie

This months special edition of EHM is proud to feature Elliot Costello, co-Founder of YGAP, on our cover. With this issue being dedicated to creating positive social impact through business and events, there was no-one more perfect to be profiled. 

YGAP is a non-profit that finds and supports impact entrepreneurs changing the lives of people living in poverty. Through their bustling cafe, beautiful function space, national and international campaigns and exciting fundraisers, every action helps ensure that the YGAP vision and mission is upheld.

Eliott shares with us their wonderful mission, how events support their important work and what is on the horizon for this exciting organisation.

Thank you so much for speaking with us today Elliot! I know that many of our readers will be excited to hear from such an inspiring leader! We would love to hear all about the YGAP mission and how the enterprise was brought to life?

YGAP has always been really effective at fundraising and since 2008 we’ve been building innovative campaigns and social enterprises to fund initiatives aimed at ending global poverty. Last year was particularly exciting for us as we merged with another not-for-profit, Spark International who specialise in finding, accelerating, supporting and growing the ventures of impact entrepreneurs in some of the world’s toughest communities. We call these impact entrepreneurs local leaders and we firmly believe local leaders have the solution to ending global poverty in this generation.

To date, YGAP has backed 225 impact entrepreneurs, who have significantly and measurably impacted the lives of 155,379 people living in poverty through their ventures. We are on a mission to back 1,000 entrepreneurs and impact one million lives by 2018. It’s an ambitious mission but one I believe we will achieve.


You say that YGAP is an incubator for social change which we just LOVE. Where does the inspiration come from to continually be on the charge to make a change?

It’s difficult to walk into YGAP every day and not feel overwhelmingly inspired by the work happening both here and abroad. Admittedly, no working day is without its challenges - that’s business - but knowing all the hard work is directly channeled into our work across Africa, Asia and Australia makes every challenge worth it.

I am drive by the passion and motivation of the local leaders we support in the field – by hearing their success stories and watching their ventures blossom. 155,379 people living in some of the world’s toughest communities have had their lives significantly and measurably changed thanks to these entrepreneurs. That statistic, which only continues to rise, drives me.

We love the idea of entrepreneurs using their knowledge and personal brand towards something that is making a global difference. How do you find the right people to represent your work and join the team?

Finding the right people who share our Vision to end global poverty in this generation is such an integral piece of what we do. Without our rockstar impact entrepreneurs, the funds our team works to hard to raise here in Australia would have no home. To ensure we achieve our mission of one million lives impacted by 2018, we run a very structured impact model. This involves four phases comprising find, accelerate, support and grow.

The ‘Find’ phase consists of a rigorous process to seek out the best 12 entrepreneurs with solutions to poverty in their local communities for us to accelerate and help go to scale. This is where we identify the right people to represent our work and join the team. It’s important to note not all of the ventures that come through our program succeed but we celebrate our failures as readily as our successes. We specifically work with very early stage ventures so while we pick the best ideas, they can go either way. There is always a lesson to be learned from the journeys that don’t succeed, but when the passion, idea and foundation is there, incredible things can happen.

What has been your motivation behind incorporating events into YGAP’s fundraising and campaign activities?

Six months ago, our core team outgrew our old office so we moved YGAP HQ to 111 Swan Street in Richmond, directly next door to our social enterprise restaurant Feast of Merit. It’s a big building with an empty space downstairs, so it seemed only logical to renovate it into a Feast of Merit Function Space and expand our offering.

With beautiful wooden floorboards, a pressed tin ceiling, stunning acoustics and walls painted by our very own YGAP team, it’s an incredible space to hold an event. We’re all about making philanthropy accessible and this is another way for people to give back with all profits made by the space channeled into YGAP’s work in the field.

 Image courtesy of Devon Bradley

Image courtesy of Devon Bradley

What have been some of the benefits you have experienced from holding extremely well thought out launches and fundraisers?

When YGAP holds an event, we invite everyday Australians to step outside their own world and connect with an incredible cause. Whether they’ve known us for years or it’s their first YGAP encounter, our events enable us to take people on a journey. We always share stories of our impact entrepreneurs at events to ensure our audience connects directly with those we support in the field. It’s critical for anyone who supports our mission to understand exactly where his or her money goes and hosting events allows us to clearly communicate this.

How do you see events playing a continual important part in YGAP’s future?

YGAP’s network of followers is growing rapidly as we connect with more and more people who believe we can end poverty in our lifetime. A perfect way to maintain momentum on this movement and to bring the community together is through the events we hold. These events provide us with a platform to spread the word about YGAP and most importantly, promote the incredible work of our impact entrepreneurs. Events will undoubtedly continue to play an integral role in helping us achieving our mission of one million lives impacted by 2018.

And finally, what exciting things are on the horizon for YGAP and how can we stay up to date?

The next year for YGAP is going to be big. One of our biggest fundraising campaigns, 5cent, has just come to an end and we’re straight on to preparing for the next, Polished Man. A major focus this year will be finding innovative ways to partner with likeminded organisations and individuals to continue driving our mission.

Every individual has the ability to contribute to change and impact the lives of those living in far less fortunate circumstances. We hold a YGAP Tribe meeting in our new events space every two months and I would really encourage anyone interested in learning more about what we do to come down and meet the team and broader supporter community.


How incredible! I do urge anyone in Melbourne or anyone visiting to support YGAP and it's projects by dining at Feast of Merit, holding an event in their function space or taking part in the tribe meetings. What an inspirational interview, I hope it gets you thinking about how you can create impact with your own business!


All photo credits belong to YGAP and Elliot Costello

Feast of Merit

By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie

If you haven't yet heard of Feast of Merit, let me introduce you! 

Feast of Merit is a cafe in Richmond, Melbourne where 100 percent of its profits directly support YGAP’s movement of impact entrepreneurs who are improving the lives of people living in poverty.

So basically, if you want to help global poverty - eat here, have a drink here or hold an event here! We spoke to the gorgeous team about their work and how you can do some social good just by utilising their services. 

We would love to hear all about who Feast of Merit is and where it found its inspiration?

Feast of Merit is more than a restaurant. It’s a social enterprise owned and run by YGAP; a not-for-profit that finds, accelerates, supports and grows impact entrepreneurs who have launched ventures to improve the lives of people living in poverty. We champion social change through a farm-to-table philosophy, working closely with growers, producers and suppliers to bring seasonal, sustainable and ethical fare with a difference.

Feast of Merit was inspired by the traditions of Nagaland, a far north-eastern part of India, where people believe that wealth should be shared. In Nagaland, when a member of the community comes into wealth they host a feast for the whole village (including all poor and disadvantaged people). Everyone in the community is invited to join the festivities which continue until the host has shared their wealth. When the feast is finished and the community has celebrated, the host resumes life once more - with the Golden Cloak of Merit on their shoulders. The clock signifies the highest social value in Nagaland: hosting a Feast of Merit.

Tell us a little about what feast of merit offers

In order to generate as much revenue as possible for YGAP, Feast of Merit is constantly looking to expand. We now offer facilities and services which include:

Feast of Merit Restaurant and Rooftop Bar; Our restaurant offers world class cuisine, cooked by our kitchen team led by Head Chef Jarryd Goundrey – previously Cutler & Co. Dining Room and Art Series Hotel Group. At Feast of Merit, our menu changes with the seasons because we feature organic, sustainable and local produce. We recently opened an intimate and secluded rooftop bar serving a delicious Middle Eastern snack menu complimented with locally sourced wine and beer as well as delicious jugs of Pimms, Moscow Mule and Aperol Spritz.

Feast of Merit Functions; Our new function space at 111 Swan Street opened for business in May 2016 and is perfect for all events big or small including cocktail events, workshops, lunches and formal dinners.

For more information regarding the Feast of Merit menu, opening times, bookings and events please visit

How do your services go towards making a positive impact both within australia and nationally? 

100% of Feast of Merit profits go to YGAP. YGAP believes in a world without poverty. A world where everyone can access a quality education, live in a good home, have a good job, and live free from preventable disease and violence. YGAP exist to find and support impact entrepreneurs around the world who are improving the lives of those living in poverty.

In addition to Feast of Merit, YGAP raise funds through running innovative fundraising campaigns and creating partnerships. As of today, 225 YGAP impact entrepreneurs have significantly and measurably changed the lives of 155,379 people living in poverty across Africa, Asia and Australia.

Feast of Merit’s new events space will enable everyone to connect, learn, support, and launch inspiring ethical projects. We care for our local community and want to ensure they have a great time and improve the lives of those in poverty while doing so.

We'd love to know how feast of merit have worked with events in the past

Feast of Merit has been hosting dinner events since opening in 2014. It is extremely easy to book tables of up to 10 people through our website or by calling our awesome front of house team. Our friendly staff and talented chefs provide a great way for customers to enjoy celebrations and our tapas style menu ensures that there is something for everyone- including numerous gluten free and vegan options. 

The Function Space now offers many new opportunities for events. We have already hosted events such as: formal sit down dinners, training workshops, meetings, cocktail parties, birthday celebrations, networking lunches, afternoon teas, wine tastings, photo shoots, fundraisers, staff parties, campaign launches, art exhibitions and more.

How can event orgasniser's utilise your services for their own events? 

The opportunities for events with Feast of Merit are endless. We are especially enthusiastic about hosting events for other social enterprises. Come to us with your idea and we can discuss a plan of action!

We have a range of different time slots for any type of function and beverage packages and food packages so you can choose what works best for you.


Amazing right?! I urge you to check them out here and visit them as soon as you can! 

All photo credits belong to Feast of Merit

Shop for Change // i = Change

By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie

i=Change has to be one of the best websites on the internet I've ever found. How excited would you be if you knew that you could go shopping for your favourite brands such as Nine West, Tigerlily, Cristina Re AND that a donation from every single sale goes towards various social causes?! Well, dream no more because thanks to Founder Jeremy Meltzer, it's now a reality.

Jeremy is a social entrepreneur and inspiring voice for women’s rights globally. He created i=Change to help accelerate the impact of extraordinary development projects, focused mostly on empowering women and girls. We were lucky enough to speak to him about i=Change and how you can work alongside them to support some truly incredible causes.

We would love for our readers to gain some insight into your vision at i=change and how this vision was born?

I=Change began as a simple idea at 3am one morning, over three years ago… What if brands gave back a small amount with every sale, and after checking out online their customers could choose where it goes, via a platform that pops up post-sale? 

I found it troubling seeing many businesses try to communicate that they care, when it was clear their primary intention was marketing. I believed cause marketing could be done so much better. Many brands say, ‘we support x charity’. What does this mean? It can mean everything and nothing.

I wondered if we could help brands give back with complete transparency and authenticity, do so in real-time and engage their customers in this experience with every sale. This was the idea – as well as flipping the model so the brand gives back, rather than asking their customers to make the donation.

To test, we built an initial (clunky version) of the i=Change Platform, and added it to Yellingbo - our family’s olive oil site. After going live, the results were exciting. Sales increased over 6%. Social media flowed. We received great feedback from customers.

Could this be built into an independent solution for other online retailers, so they could give back as well and reap the benefits of doing so? I knew the majority of consumers - over 77% in Australia - prefer to buy from brands that give back. We just had to build a plug-&-play solution that was simple and powerful.

Simple, right? This began a long journey to where we are today…


How would you define “making a positive impact” and how are these ideas carried through in the projects you’re involved in?

We’re very committed to the empowerment of women and girls. I recently returned from Rwanda, and was deeply impressed to see how women and girls have re-built their nation after the Rwandan genocide. For example, there are now more women in the Rwandan parliament than any other nation on earth.

Women and girls have been held back for centuries. At i=Change, we plan to play a very active role in channeling the new funds we’re raising into helping build a more equitable world. So the majority of projects we support focus on unleashing the potential of women and girls.

We do support other projects. Although, when as donors we invest in women and girls, entire communities benefit. This has been proven over and over again. There’s simply a higher social return on the donor dollar.

We believe this commitment is one of the most powerful ways we can create a positive impact.


We love that big and small brands are on board with your vision. How important do you find strong brand relationships are in reaching your goals?

We try and create strong, meaningful relationships with our brand partners. They’re ‘early adopters’ who understand the value - and that giving back and social enterprise, as a powerful, fast-growing movement is only just beginning. As such, these brands also stand to benefit most.

Strong relationships are key. We’ve made mistakes. Good relationships help these to be forgiven, especially when your partners know this is all done in the spirit of improving and learning and trying to build a better product.

We have large global brands like Nine West onboard, as well as smaller start-ups. Regardless of their size, they all give back with each sale. I’m very moved by their commitment. We may have built the eco-system that enables them to do this simply, yet it’s their commitment that makes it all possible. I think this is amazing.


We do significant due diligence on the projects we support. We want to make sure the dollars raised make the greatest impact possible.

For example, I’m a big fan of Adara Development. The funds we donate to Adara directly help prevent Nepalese girls being trafficked from Nepal. We donate 100% of funds raised, (as does Adara), and know they use this to make the greatest impact possible.

People can support these life-changing issues by simply shopping with these brands. They give back from every sale via the i=Change platform that pops up after checking out. From three projects, customers get to choose where to send the brand’s donation.


We’d love to know how has i=Change worked with events in the past and how can people organizing their own events utilize your services?

The most powerful event we hosted was when we brought together Adara and the online retailer, Esther. The power of storytelling is enormous. Audette , Adara’s founder, shared how it would take 10 years to rebuild Kathmandu after the earthquake in 2015. There were tears and a powerful sense of gratitude. Esther deeply understood how their business was changing lives. Adara knew they’d be able to make an even greater impact.

I’ve also shared our story as a speaker at many functions and events. I’m very moved by how this seems to inspire others to find and follow their purpose, to live with passion and, where possible; begin using their business as a ‘force for good’. I’m always open to sharing the i=Change story.

If people are selling tickets online to events, they could also partner with us to give back and engage their customers in a meaningful, memorable experience after every sale.


All I can say is PLEASE get on board. What an incredible platform, with such wonderful causes and organisations to support. Get shopping here.

Photo credit belongs to i=Change

Helping Businesses Do Good // Social Traders

By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie

Imagine if there was an event that supports hundreds of positive change makers across the nation, which in turn, impacts hundreds of thousands of lives across the country through providing employment opportunities, providing ethically focused products and services for the general public to purchase and most importantly, contributing towards important causes.

Well luckily for us, this event does exist in the form of an annual Conference and awards thanks to the amazing team at Social Traders. We sat down and spoke to the Head of Marketing, Mark Hemetsberger, to learn more about the Social Traders Masters Conference and the Social Enterprise Awards.

We would love to hear the journey of the Social Traders Masters Conference and Events. Where did the idea come from and how have your events evolved over time?

The Social Traders Masters Conference and Events is based on our purpose for being and what we do as an organization. We're a social enterprise development organization, which means we're an intermediary. We fundamentally believe that social enterprise already plays a valuable, important - if not, at times, relatively unrecognized - role in Australian society and it’s economy. We believe that social enterprise, with the right support, could contribute a lot more.

To give you a sense of social enterprise's current contribution to Australian society and economy, we estimate through our national research that there is 20,000 social enterprises in Australia employing around 300,000 Australians and contributing an estimated 2-3% of GDP. Our belief is that by 2025, social enterprise could be contributing to 4-5% of GDP, and employ around 500,000 Australians.

This then flows into the reason why we host the Masters Conference and the Social Enterprise Awards, which are two national conferences. We do this because we believe that it's really important for the social enterprise community to come together to be able to see itself, to be able to recognize one another, and to be able to try and speak with a coordinated voice. And that's the reason why the Masters Conference exists and also why the Social Enterprise Awards exist, as well – to build a national social enterprise community

That's amazing. It's so nice to hear how it started and evolved. So, who are you event attendees, and what type of impact do they have across Australia?

The attendees that we get to the Masters Conference, are existing social enterprises; large and small social enterprises. Those that are interested and are wanting to start a social enterprise themselves, academics and students of social impact and change. We run national research in partnership with the Centre for Social Impact from Swinburne University.

This year we hosted the Masters Conference at Swinburne University, and so we had a strong academic and student contingent. We also receive a lot of interest from not- for-profit organisations that already operate social enterprises, or are considering commencing or starting a social enterprise..

We had a strong contingent of Government this year, as well. Government leaders that are starting to be interested in social enterprise and are wanting to do what governments do; that is create the conditions for social impact to flourish within community. So this year, in particular, we had very, very strong representation from the Victorian State Government, and through our research and experience, we know that Victoria is the leading state in Australian social enterprise. It's the most progressive state in this respect and I feel, perhaps, that's partly because Social Traders exists in Victoria.

Other attendees to the Masters Conference are also businesses within the private sector that have a vested interest, in contributing to and providing solutions for communities through social enterprise. Probably the interesting thing about this audience is that in previous year’s businesses interest has been predominantly around community development and engagement.

The shift we're seeing at the moment is that large corporations and government are really interested social enterprise procurement. This is the area people are really starting to be curious about, "Well who do I buy from? Who's out there? How many are there to buy from." That's a really healthy shift, to have both parts of corporate business involved - the community development engagement and the procurement side.

When it came to planning the Masters Conference, did you already have a strong idea of its content and guest speakers? Or does it evolve for you through the planning process?

Planning the program of the Masters Conference this year, was a joint effort between myself and a senior individual at Social Traders that has been within the sector for a long period of time - Mark Daniels.  Mark really knew the hot topics, the hot speakers, and has his finger on the pulse of the sector.

I work within the sector in a marketing communications capacity, so what I provided, within the planning process, was a clear strategic direction and focus back to Social Traders and what we’re trying to achieve This year we were really focused on ensuring Government was involved.. Because we feel at Social Traders that in the absence of Government championing, policy, and framework, that social enterprise will struggle to reach its full potential.

The theme of the conference was Realising the Future of Social Enterprise and aimed squarely at the role government has to play and also the role social enterprises themselves have to play in building the sector.

How would you describe the event planning experience for Social Traders as a whole? Is it something that's enjoyed by the team?

We have a multi-disciplined marketing team of 3 and we don't just work on the Masters Conference. We work laterally across the business managing our leadership activities such as the Masters conference and Awards as well as managing the brand and communications for the business. We have a range of different services that we offer so we are juggling a whole range of different activities and competing priorities all the time.

We know that we're deficit in the specific specialist skills of running an event, so this year we called on some experts to coach us through what we were planning on doing, what the program looked like, how we wanted it to look and feel, and what our focus points were on.

By bringing in event management experts, they provided us with a report and a whole series of recommendations, which we adopted, and were able to roll out. I wanted to try and make sure that we were as well advanced in our planning as possible, that we had things like sponsors, the money in the door, to run the event as early as possible, that we had our vision, and that we had a really detailed document that overviewed who the target audience was, what our objectives were, where we were trying to take this thing. I think what that enabled us to do is to have the benefit of time. We weren't rushing right up to the last minute for this event. This enabled us to then finesse and make the event and the experience the way that we wanted it to be.

How do you think business owners and organizations can use events to create positive impact, not just in this world, but in the day to day lives of our own communities?

It's about the experience. It's about focusing on purpose and experience, so it depends on what you want people to get; is an event about just an exchange of information or is it something deeper? Is it about influencing the way people think, influencing the way people behave or giving them the information to be able to do that at a later point in time?  If you create an event that is purposeful, and meaningful, and is dynamic, and requires people to really bring themselves and their minds to the activity, then I think you've got the opportunity to create something that has value.

In our case, it is about creating positive impact and the people that attend want to do that. So I think the event if an event is delivered in the right way it can really empower people to do what they want to do. Which is, in this instance, to create positive impact on the world and for communities that they work for. The event is the vehicle to try and motivate them as individuals, as well as a community.



What an incredible example of an event creating a huge amount of positive impact! Please do keep up to date with their annual events here and for all of those interested in taking part in their annual awards, The Social Enterprise Awards are now open for applications.

They are the only national event recognising and celebrating excellence and best practice in Australian social enterprise AND the Awards have a new category this year - ‘Women’s Impact Award’. The winners across the 8 Award categories will have the opportunity to attend and participate at the Social Enterprise World Forum 2017 in Christchurch NZ.  Applications close on 2nd September so if you are interested in submitting your application, make sure you do so here.    


All images courtesy of social enterprise photographer Flashpoint Labs

Easy Ways To Fundraise At Your Next Event

By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie

In my former life, I managed a charity and then specifically its member programs and fundraising opportunities. Along with the personal donations we received, we also had a lot of fundraising done on our behalf at different events from make-up parties to morning teas to formal dinners and everything in between.

We’d get a donation for $13,000 then a donation for $250 and we loved them all. Groups who donated a small amount used to say, 'Oh it’s not much' all the time, but what they didn't realise was that to a small not for profit like ours that didn't receive government funding or ongoing grants, all of these smaller donations added up quickly and became the reason we could continue our work and get so much done.

Whether your next event is big or small, I’d love for you to think about how you can give back to charity in some way. Everything that comes with giving to charity is so positive and uplifting and the impact you can make is incredible.

Stuck for ideas on how to incorporate charity fundraising into your next event? Below is a list that you can refer to time and time again for any event or celebration! 


Ah the good old raffle. Unlike the meat raffle at your local pub, this raffle should feature a nice array of lust worthy prizes that people will elbow each other to buy a ticket for. The amount you charge per ticket should be in proportion to the value of the items but a good rule of thumb is about $5 for 1 ticket and 3 for $10. If you are lucky enough to raffle off a holiday, expensive electrical equipment or a car then bump those ticket prices up baby!



Want a no fuss way to donate with absolutely no work whatsoever? Donate a portion of your ticket cost directly to the charity. Woah now that was too easy!



If you have a cash bar at your event then ask the venue if you can have your own tip jars on the bar. Trust me, the change people put in there can add up to some very big donations.


If you have a lot of donated prizes and want to do something a little different to a raffle, then a live or silent auction is a fun way to get some competitive donations happening. Think about who the attendees are and try and source prizes that they are going to want to pay good dollars for whether that be a 6 month supply of cleaning products or a date with a hot actor (yes we auctioned off Ambassadors in my time at the Foundation. And also a whipper snipper that proved to be quite popular).



If you have a bulk lot of items that are non perishable or still in date, in their original packaging and are good to go then set up a little table and sell them to guests at a discounted price. The more it relates to the attendees or the event the better like selling thongs after the races. 



People love candy, cupcakes and chocolate. Sell it to them.



Want to do something daring at the event that you wouldn’t do any other day? Shaving your head, wearing a dress or heels if you are a dude or even trying to break some kind of world record can be a fun addition and a great way to raise money in the lead up and on the day.


Ask your event sponsors, the venue, the suppliers or anyone related to you, your business and the event if they will dollar match the donations made on the evening. You never know what good Samaritan will come along and say yes!


Whatever you do, good on you for doing something! Don’t forget to promote your efforts in the lead up to your event and remind people on the night how they can help. A little collective effort can go a long way to doing a lot of good xx


TIP: Most charities do require you to advise them of your plans and even fill out simple paperwork before you start fundraising just to ensure that both parties are on the same page. My big tip is to contact them while you are still in the planning phase to talk about what you want to do and get approval.

Most charities will be able to provide you with a Letter of Authority which means you can then go out and request donations and prizes which makes it a heck of a lot easier for you and shows businesses and participants that there’s nothing dodgy going on!


All photo credits belong to Fi Mims Photography

Your Quick Guide To Venues That Do Good

Want to book yourself into an event space that helps support the community? Have a look at these beautiful spaces:


 Donkey Wheel House // Platform Room

Donkey Wheel House // Platform Room

 Donkey Wheel House // Depot Theatre

Donkey Wheel House // Depot Theatre


 Feast of Merit // Function Space

Feast of Merit // Function Space


 Figtree Conference Centre Conference Room

Figtree Conference Centre Conference Room

 Figtree Conference Centre // Mission Room

Figtree Conference Centre // Mission Room

 The Gardens Club // Deck

The Gardens Club // Deck

 The Gardens Club // Restaurant

The Gardens Club // Restaurant

All image credits belong to the listed venues

Your Quick Guide To Event Suppliers With Positive Impact

Need suppliers or supplies that contribute positively to society? Have a look at these:

PHOTOGRAPHY // FLASHPOINT PHOTOGRAPHY (pic from Social Traders Master Conference)





All photo credits belong to the listed suppliers