Phil—
anthropy

Phil—
anthropy

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Giving as a young person - it's possible.

Anna Worthington

Anna Worthington

Baker, Cakes by Anna

PHIL sat down with Anna to learn more about how starting up her own business, Cakes by Anna, has enabled her to give back to the community.

Anna Worthington didn't inherit a large sum of old money, she hasn't found the cure for cancer, and she has yet to succeed as a professional gambler. She is a young baker who has found a sustainable and rewarding way to contribute to the arts. As a small business owner (and not a millionaire), her approach to giving points to a new culture of giving that is open to anyone. 

In 2015, Anna began her five-year commitment as a small business partner to the Christchurch Art Gallery TOGETHER Foundation, signing on to help purchase five great works over five years for Christchurch. She was 26 when she came on board and is still one of the youngest Gallery donors.

‟If I didn’t choose to support causes I believe in, I’d just be a girl who bakes. There’s not much meaning to it all if it never solves anything more than someone’s cake cravings.”
Anna Worthington section

Money is talked about a lot these days. How would you describe your relationship with it?

I’ve got a ‘I might get hit by a bus tomorrow’ approach to money at times. I choose wisely what I spend my money on but in general I'm a generous person – and I mean that in terms of spending money on myself too. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying nice, quality things for yourself once in a while.

You could say I’m also a bit naïve with money because I’ve never really experienced hardship. I think people who know hard times, know the value of things better. I don’t have children. I only have to look after myself so I don’t have to think about anyone else except for me when it comes to my income.

‟If you’ve never given and then you reach 60, it’s not built into your values so you’re probably not going to give. Or you’ll die before having the chance to.”
Anna Worthington section

Most young people, and people in general, aren’t swimming in money – so how it is possible for them to give with what they have?

It’s not just about giving 'x' amount of money to something every year or signing a Red Cross cheque you receive in the mail every now and again. It’s about those everyday situations too – I shop at secondhand stores because if I buy from the Red Cross or The Salvation Army I know that a portion of that goes towards an organisation that is doing good. It’s all relative. Anyone can give – it doesn’t actually have to be financially, it can be with your time or through volunteering.

I signed up to the Christchurch Art Gallery TOGETHER Foundation two years ago and now I don’t even notice that anything is missing. At first it all seemed like a lot of money – and it is – but when I broke it down monthly it was actually much more feasible than I initially thought. I don’t need that money at the moment. I don’t miss it.  It’s just like paying a bill - a nice bill.

For the past few years I've also been making cakes for Christchurch City Mission to give to families at Christmas time - and I extended the invite out to some of my friends who had a knack for making beautiful cakes to do the same. Money can be tight for most people over the Christmas period, but baking a cake is a pretty affordable way to make someone's holiday a bit more special. I think we ended up donating about 40 cakes in total last year.

‟Kiwis are really bad at talking about being generous with their money. I think the more it’s talked about, the more it inspires people.”
One of a series of cakes Anna made for Wayne Youle's exhibition opening at the Gallery

One of a series of cakes Anna made for Wayne Youle's exhibition opening at the Gallery

Why did you choose to support the arts?

I knew that if I started giving to the Gallery, I would continue to give. I want to support the Gallery and the local Christchurch scene, but also artists. I admire people who take the plunge and make art for a living. It's an honest and brave way to live and I like to support people who choose to give so much through their art practice.

When I was at art school, a lot of my tutors were artists who tutored part time to support themselves. In hindsight I should have appreciated their time more than I did. They were trying to meet their own deadlines, and were juggling that with tutoring idiots like me who turned up late to class and just wanted to make pretty things.

‟I admire people who take the plunge and make art for a living. It's an honest and brave way to live...”

What rewards have you experienced as part of giving?

It’s important to practice giving as a young person, especially in business, because you get so much in return. Even if it’s not financially, it’s good for business and it’s good for your state of mind. It opens you up to a new world of new opportunities. 

In terms of the Gallery I get to meet lots of people and they also use my cakes for their events so it’s good for business. I went to Venice, which I probably wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t had made such strong connections through the Gallery.

If I didn’t choose to support causes I believe in, I’d just be a girl who bakes. There’s not much meaning to it all if it never solves anything more than someone’s cake cravings. 

Anna Worthington section

Was giving always part of the business plan?

It was there from the start – people triggered it by asking me to donate cakes. I wasn’t in a position then to give money, but I could make them a cake – I guess I realised that there’s more to giving than its monetary worth. I worked it into my everyday routine and it’s fostered the value of being a generous person in business and in general.

I reckon most small businesses are pretty good at giving. It's cool to give - and I think business owners are aware that their customers are becoming more aware of the brands that they choose to support and align with.

Kiwis can be really bad at talking about being generous with their money. I think the more it’s talked about, the more it inspires people. When you talk about what you support you’re showing people what you’re into - it’s not showing off.

Do you regret anytime you chose not to give?

In hindsight I think you always feel that you could’ve given more. In terms of giving your time, there are moments when you’re tired and think you can’t fit anything more into your week – but, as long as you’re not killing yourself in the process, I think there’s always more you can do.

‟There's so much emphasis on making money in your 20's and 30's, but when it comes down to it, people aren't going to talk about how much was in your savings account at your funeral.”
Anna Worthington section

What about a time you did choose to give? Would you take any of it back?

No, not really. Sometimes people don’t seem hugely appreciative, but I guess that’s the whole point of giving for other reasons than personal gain.

If you’re not generous, that’s really unattractive to me. I was brought up in a generous family and the people I surround myself with are those who like to share things and help each other out. I experience generosity from them on a daily basis and so I find myself wanting to give back to them. You learn that that’s not something that everyone has, so it’s quite special.

Any parting words of advice for young people who want to give more?

There's so much emphasis on making money in your 20's and 30's, but when it comes down to it, people aren't going to talk about how much was in your savings account at your funeral. If you’ve never given and then you reach 60, it’s not built into your values so you’re probably not going to give. Or you’ll die before having the chance to. Like anything, if you practice giving more, then overtime it becomes a habit and part of your daily life.

You don't have to be a martyr and giveaway 50% of your pay check, but a few dollars can go a long way if we all get on board.

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