Six months in as Chairman of Meeting Needs, and what an exciting few months it’s been, not least because last year was our 20th anniversary, marked by our brand-new Meeting Needs Anthem, and in our 20 short years, we have raised and donated over £1m in grants to small charities.

At the beginning of my tenure, we looked at the Meeting Needs brand and gave it a little refocus to better clarify what we are and what we do.

Meeting Needs is a foundation that awards life-changing grants to small charities, with funds raised from within the meetings and events industry.

I hope this more clearly demonstrates that rather than being a specific charity, as a foundation we can award grants to a wide range of charities, all using the collective passion, effort and power that we all share and enjoy within the meetings and events industry. Through Meeting Needs, we event professionals can come together to do great things for those in need. Our foundation focuses specifically on smaller charities who find it so difficult to attract attention and funds, and small grants make big impacts. Our average grant is just £5,000 and these grants can be and have been life-changing.

In 2023 we awarded grants totally more than £75,000.

Details of all our 2023 grants will soon be published, but they include us buying a Tuk-tuk for an orphanage in Tanzania, hosting concerts for those suffering from dementia, renovating classrooms at Mwanzo Mgumu Primary School, providing emotional and practical support for children dealing with cancer, and hosting a Christmas party for 50 disabled young people.

Behind the scenes, along with its many friends and advocates, the driving force behind Meeting Needs is its voluntary Board of Trustees. Each of these fabulous people give their time and passion willingly, to promote and develop our foundation, and help to make sure each of our fundraising activities are delivered with maximum potential and outcomes.

We have now bolstered our Foundation Board by the creation of three new committees; Strategy and Communication, which I lead, The Giving Committee, led by Karen Small and the Fundraising Committee led by Kate Conway. Our committees are made up of Board members and some of our friends and advocates from the meetings industry. We are always open to consider new members so please let me know if you are interested in joining a committee.

Another way to get involved in Meeting Needs is to be a Charity Partner. By agreeing to donate just £500 per year, you will become one of our valued partners, and have the privilege to use our Charity Partner logo, and receive VIP invitations to our annual appreciation event, where you can hear about and meet some of our wonderful charity beneficiaries. We have ambitions to welcome more Charity Partners in 2024, you can sign up here.

I offer my deepest thanks to those who organised events for us over the last 12 months, and special thanks go to SITE GB who raised their biggest sum ever at the annual Christmas lunch, over £26,000. Also to the generous guests at M&IT Awards, GLAM, BEAM, Micebook Awards and Greengage Awards, and finally to our brave competitors at Tough Mudder and all our 2023 Royal Parks runners.

We want to award more charity grants than ever, so please look out for and support our forthcoming events.

Royal Parks Half Marathonwould you like to run with our team? It’s a totally engaging way to raise money, and to have fun whilst getting fit with meetings industry colleagues.

M&IT Awards – this is our biggest annual auction, so could you donate a prize so that we can raise more than ever at this wonderful industry gala event?

Donate to visit – agencies, you can raise money for us by asking your suppliers to donate just £20 for a visit to your offices. Rather than branded pens, wouldn’t it be better to help good causes with Meeting Needs? Later this year we will be launching an agency league table to see who is top of the charts at raising money for supplier visits.

Meeting Needs is a vehicle that can help you and your company do great things, using the strength, talent and connections we all build and enjoy by working in this wonderful industry of meetings and events. Together we are a massive force that can focus on doing great things for good causes.

Please encourage your colleagues or your bosses to use the Meeting Needs Foundation to help them to give back and let me know how we can best support you.

Meeting Needs is the meeting and events industry’s only charity foundation, and together we can meet the needs of those that so desperately need it. Thank you as always for your kind support.

Chris Parnham MBA CDir

Chairman, Meeting Needs

Chief Strategy Officer, veSpace