Gold Dinner Dusts Itself Off

The peerless Sydney charity event returns this week — led by a new-look committee aiming to elevate things through innovation.

By Terry Christodoulou 08/06/2021

With philanthropy and a firm want to give back riding shotgun out of Covid’s hold on 2020, this Thursday’s Gold Dinner looks set to best even its own lofty goals and former achievements.

Since its 1997 inception, the Sydney Children’s Hospital’s fundraiser — as overseen by a 16 person committee that includes Monica Saunders Weinberg, Olivia Wirth, Guillaume Brahimi, Karl Stefanovic, Emma Van Haandel, Hamish McLennan and Dan Rosen — has secured an impressive $30 million.

Known for its pull in opening wallets and gathering a heady selection of heavy hitters and celebrities, this year’s dinner introduces the acceptance of cryptocurrency donations and will also auction a non-fungible token (NFT) by Australian digital artist Hipworth.

We caught up with committee member and CEO of Tower Group, Richard Weinberg, to explore contemporary philanthropy and address some of the incredible auction items available.

RR: Why the move to accept cryptocurrency — what does this allow a charitable event such as the Gold Dinner? 

Richard Weinberg: The widespread adoption of cryptocurrency as a disruptive force within the financial markets over the last 12 months is incredible and has created a new community of entrepreneurial success stories.  The use cases for crypto are growing and this includes as a method of payment for goods as well as for giving.  As the Gold committee, dealing with the business and philanthropic community, we are cognizant of and applaud entrepreneurs who have achieved success in a variety of different industries.  We also have a responsibility to look at all ways of accepting donations and interacting with our guests on every level possible… I think we all have to evolve what we do and how we do it. Our aim is to raise as much as we can to ensure that vital funds are delivered to the Foundation to fund their efforts.  This means expanding our universe and accepting donations of all currencies — be it crypto, USD or Euro. 

RR: And to clarify, crypto donations are immediately converted? 

RW: Correct.

RR: It’s all rather contemporary this year, what with an NFT artwork by Australian crypto artist Hipworth (Tim Meyer) also up for grabs. Did the event arguably need a ‘dusting’ off’?

RW: A charity such as Gold and which sits at the forefront of philanthropy within the Sydney landscape has a responsibility to evolve from every perspective. By legacy, the Gold Dinner — since its inception some 22 years ago — has been a visionary initiative and the current committee’s job is to continue to push forward in this spirit. Today, there’s a whole new generation of givers that we [the current committee] need to ensure we’re engaging and appealing to.

Richard Weinberg. Gold Dinner committee member.

RR: What are the main hopes for this year’s event in terms of targets and also the key narratives? 

RW: To not only raise as much money as possible but to shine a light on this year’s beneficiary, a very difficult issue that the community at large is trying to tackle — mental health. We are focusing on tackling this issue for our children but it’s truly systemic for our community at large, and has only been exacerbated during Covid.  The statistics show that the earlier mental illness is addressed and treated the stronger the response and hopefully recovery. The more money we raise the more that goes into treatment programs, research and prevention so our future generations are given as much support possible to tackle this silent killer that affects so many of us.

RR: The dinner is now sold out and we know the waiting list is rather deep — post-COVID, do you feel there is an increased want to get out and support? 

RW: There’s a genuine pent up demand and eagerness to get out and give back, especially in the absence of last year’s dinner. At the same time the Sydney Children’s Hospital is such an important pillar of the community and it’s always attracted generosity and support. Through Covid a portion of the business community has done well, and in light of their gains combined with the beneficiary of mental health, the sentiment of making a difference and giving back has been very strong.

RR: What are some of the auction pieces you’re excited about and which we should really know about?

RW: This year, with the limitations on travel and border restrictions, we’ve worked hard to bring together a compelling collection of prizes from money can’t buy experiences to unique collectibles like the NFT — which is a new space that they may not have a deep understanding of but are interested in while giving back to a great cause.  What is also unique this year is that the NFT provides an opportunity for those not in the room to give [via MakersPlace]. Some other highlights, those prizes which really are priceless:

  • Hipworth NFT via MakersPlace — bidding now underway. 
  • Escape To Paris with Dior. For two people, experience a private tour of Dior’s private atelier in Paris with a two night hotel stay. 
  • Crown Sydney ‘Level 88 Ultimate Experience’ (valued at $85,000) 
  • Crown Highlights of Melbourne Experience’ including Four Pillars and Dolce & Gabbana. Includes helicopter trip to the Four Pillars Distillery for a private ‘maker session’ (valued at $60,000). 
  • On Set / Being The Scenes Experience — TODAY Show and Lego Masters with Karl Stefanovic and Hamish Blake. 
  • Behind The Stables — with Australia’s and the world’s leading horse trainer Chris Waller, includes lunch for six including Chris Waller and Karl Stefanovic. 
  • Holistic Surf Experience with world-renowned surfer Tom Carroll (valued at $13,000) 
  • AFL Grand Final Experience 
  • Boffi Studio — $100,000 worth of design and product services
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