On Thursday night, a group of impassioned supporters and philanthropists gathered for a raw look at the work required to get an Ethics Centre program off the ground.

It was our very first Pitch & Pledge event – a unique crowdfunding concept by The Funding Network where charities pitch their funding needs live to a room of curious minds.

The format required three of our program leaders – Alex Hirst, Sally Murphy and Matt Beard – to take to the stage to make a six minute appeal for support for their work. Alex shared why she believes the Festival of Dangerous Ideas is critical to a tolerant society, Sally argued why more people need access to our free counselling helpline, Ethi-call, and Matt canvassed the idea of a budding young philosopher to further our work.

Following their pitches and a barrage of interesting questions from the floor, our leaders were asked to leave the room for a nail-biting window of time while guests pledged their support for their favourite program.

In an electric, emotionally charged and heartwarming hour we raised over $80,000 across the three causes, as well as further pro-bono support. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of those who attended, and invite you to take a look at the pitches below and consider if there’s one worthy of your backing as well.

1. Support a truly independent Festival of Dangerous Ideas

Alex compelled us to realise that 10 years on from the first Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) in 2010, it’s no longer just a world of dangerous ideas we are considering – it’s the dangerous realities we need to be afraid of. Our modern world of opinion echo chambers and media algorithms that serve to confirm our biases, has lead to an inability across society to have informed and hard conversations about opposing views.

FODI is about challenging our ways of thinking, not confirming them. Sharing personal anecdotes and stories from FODI followers, Alex captured, to a rapt crowd, the sheer necessity of expansive thinking and contested ideas.

“Unchallenged ideas are after all some of the most dangerous, and they are reaching us in more ways than ever before. Reaching right into the heart of the home, and into our everyday lives.”

“If we are unable to have hard conversations, if we are untrained at listening to the ideas that we just don’t want to hear, then our ability as a society to face these dangerous realities together doesn’t exist”.

Ticket sales from the annual festival cover just 50% of festival running costs. Alex, and FODI, need support to bring critical thinking back to challenge dangerous realities in 2020.

Donate here: https://www.thefundingnetwork.com.au/ethics-centre


2.    Help Ethi-call guide people through life’s tough decisions

Sally knows challenging situations. As a volunteer Ethi-call counsellor and manager of the service, she’s heard first-hand the difficult and often crippling dilemmas people face, and the impact a call with a trained expert can have.

In a landscape where communities are lacking connection, where neighbours don’t drop in for tea, families don’t spend quality time and friendships take place in text messages, more people feel they don’t have anyone to talk to about the challenging and tricky issues that they are facing.

Ethi-call is a free and independent service. It allows callers to share their troubles, explore their options and think about a path where perhaps there was none before.

Delicately sharing the challenges of two callers to the service, Sally showed the breadth of issues the service can help shine a light on. Whether it’s a young Australian choosing between duty and desire, the very hard choice many of us face around aged care for our ageing parents or a rural farmer forced into making the most heartbreaking choices due to drought, choice is a shared human experience and one that we don’t have to face alone.

Ethi-call only works if people use it. And to use it, they need to know it exists. Sally’s hope was to raise enough funding to let more people in need know that this vital service exists and to upgrade call technology to support additional privacy, a barrier to calling for potential users in the past.

Donate here: https://www.thefundingnetwork.com.au/ethics-centre


3.    Plant the seed for a better ideas and fund a Young Philosopher 

Dr Matt Beard is a philosopher who knows the value of a curious mind. It’s that itch that makes you wonder why the world is the way it is, that drives you to question what you’ve learnt to find a better way. He’s spent his working life scratching that itch.

Philosophy, Matt believes, is curiosity in motion. The history of philosophy is littered with world-changers. And the history of world-changers is littered with philosophy like Martin Luther King, and the foundations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s not just that they changed the world. It’s they were fuelled by the work of philosophy and philosophers.   

At The Ethics Centre, we’ve spent thirty years developing new ideas and better worlds. We haven’t always gotten it right, and we’ve never done it alone, but there’s been one constant throughout the process – philosophy. From Primary Ethics in schools teaching children how to think critically, to Short & Curly downloaded over one million times, to Ethical by Design, a research paper that introduces much needed principles for designing ethical technology.

As one of just two philosophers on our staff, Matt says there are less philosophers, and less diversity of ideas than we need to address all the issues rising up out of the cracks in Australia. He says the ideas and possibilities for creating powerful positive change are endless, such as teaching ethics classes prisons, lowering recidivism rates, rethinking media ethics and the limits of free speech or understanding and addressing hate speech and political division in Australia. 

But what we don’t have is the capital to support growing our staff. With more funding we can recruit, mentor and house the next generation of budding young philosophers at The Ethics Centre.

Donate here: https://www.thefundingnetwork.com.au/ethics-centre