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The sentiment behind How to do good

My introduction to the event in New York City on May 8th, underlines the sentiment behind our How to do good initiative.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome, and thank you so much for coming. My name is Leonard Stall and I have the privilege of being the chairman of Touchline, and editor-in-chief of How to do good, and Philanthropy Age.

This is the final date on our international city tour, having already been to Oslo, Stockholm, The Hague, Brussels, Paris and London and this evening you will be listening to remarkable people, undertaking truly inspirational work. They all have a story to tell and are already helping to change the world, but the idea tonight is to show you that you can too. We want you to be inspired to ‘do good’ yourselves, to make a difference, and to encourage you to be more than a spectator watching and accepting injustice and intolerance from the sidelines.

Today, more than ever, building bridges between people, religions, politics and countries is more important than ever, and far more important than building walls to keep your neighbours out.

You may be surprised to learn that the book was originally inspired by a leader from the Middle East, The Amir of Kuwait. His commitment to peace, and especially to easing the plight of refugees everywhere cuts across colour, race, creed, and country borders. He is widely called the Amir of Humanity, and much of his work is done discreetly, whether convening other international donors for refugee relief work, giving money himself, or helping to build schools and infrastructure in camps.

The Amir is a remarkable and very human being, like many of the people we have in the book who have written essays about the subject of how to do good, and like our speakers this evening.

The authors include royalty, presidents, Nobel Laureates, philanthropists, foundation heads, sporting and Hollywood stars, together with a few ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

My hope is that these essays, and our amazing speakers, will somehow inspire you to at least try to make a difference in some way. It doesn’t have to be the donation of money of course. As you will hear, time, commitment, special skills, intellectual capital: they all have a value.  But the simple fact is that we can all play a part to help, even in relation to the world’s biggest problems.

In January I attended a summit of Nobel Laureates and Leaders in Delhi convened by Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, who co-shared the prize with Malala in 2015. Over the last 35 years Kailash has helped liberate an 85,000 Indian children from exploitation and violence. But his amazing work started close to his home with a successful effort to free just one young girl from slavery. His remarkable journey to a Nobel Peace Prize started with one act of kindness, and has simply never looked back.

That simple belief and approach sits at the heart of our work with the How to do good book, this amazing speaker tour which has become a very powerful platform and sparked discussion and positive engagement around the world, and our magazine Philanthropy Age, projects that have become passions, and which are done not for profit.

In his Nobel acceptance speech Kailash told an Indian folk tale about a fire in the Jungle. The Lion, running away, came across a small Hummingbird with one drop of water in its beak, returning to try and fight the blaze. When the Lion asked what on earth it was doing, the little bird replied: “I am just doing my bit!”

That’s how I feel. But I want us all to be Kailash’s Hummingbirds, and – like him - all we need do is start with one or two small acts of kindness, compassion, tolerance, and graciousness. And I know our speakers tonight feel the same. Thank you.