Stephanie Costel­loe

Asia head of 10x10 Phi­lan­thropy

Prestige Hong Kong - 40 under 40 - - Contents -

These words are go­ing to make her blush but we’re go­ing ahead with it — dis­guised as a reg­u­lar per­son, Stephanie Costel­loe is the su­per­hero we’ve been look­ing for, hid­ing in plain sight. The Ir­ish na­tive joined B+H Ar­chi­tects in 2017, and is its di­rec­tor of Healthcare, over­see­ing projects and port­fo­lios in Hong Kong, China and Sin­ga­pore. But that’s just her day job — un­der the cloak of night, she’s been a busy, un­caped cru­sader spear­head­ing 10x10, a now-an­nual event that pro­vides a fund-rais­ing plat­form for three grass-roots char­i­ties based out of Hong Kong, giv­ing each pub­lic­ity, a stage and, more im­por­tantly, cash. The crowd­funded cock­tail has grown year-on-year, rais­ing money for some of the most wor­thy, di­verse and noble causes in town.

“I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber the buzz in the room at that first event,” she says, “and the real con­nec­tions that were formed be­tween the au­di­ence, the char­ity speak­ers and their causes — it was ob­vi­ous that 10x10 had found a very re­cep­tive au­di­ence here in Hong Kong.” Each year at­ten­dance has in­creased and each year the cash do­na­tions have in­creased. At a time when much of the mod­ern world seems to be in com­plete tur­moil as the news cy­cle show­ers bale­ful bul­letins upon us one af­ter the other, Costel­loe has been send­ing us cheer­ing news­let­ters, pro­vid­ing in­sights into how the an­nual cock­tails have served a pur­pose in help­ing so many peo­ple in need.

“It’s very easy to feel a bit re­signed about some of the events hap­pen­ing in the world today, and at the same time pow­er­less to have any im­pact at that level,” she says. “But 10x10 events show you re­sults in real time. This is the ‘x’ char­ity that we want you to hear about and this is how your do­na­tion is go­ing to help — the im­me­di­acy works in our favour.”

Full dis­clo­sure: we at Pres­tige have hap­pily part­nered with her for the past three years with media cov­er­age online and in print. In that time, 10x10 events in Hong Kong alone have gen­er­ated over HK$1.2 mil­lion for nine lo­cal char­i­ties. The or­gan­i­sa­tion orig­i­nally started in Syd­ney be­fore ex­pand­ing into Hong Kong, New York, London and Van­cou­ver. The rip­ples have been felt the world over, with plans to ex­pand fur­ther in 2019.

The 10x10 mis­sion isn’t just a char­ity drive; it’s to em­power and in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion of movers and shak­ers to get en­gaged and in­spired by phil­an­thropic ac­tiv­ity and con­tinue that growth to­wards mak­ing a pos­i­tive change. “We know that the 10x10 model is a ve­hi­cle to em­power the next gen­er­a­tion of giv­ing by not just rais­ing money — we fa­cil­i­tate con­ver­sa­tions, raise aware­ness, in­spire, cre­ate con­nec­tions, build ca­pac­ity for change and sus­tain a move­ment with world­wide reach,” says Costel­loe.

She goes on to as­sure us that 10x10 is un­like any other char­ity event. “One of 10x10’s key points of dif­fer­ence is that the con­cept is de­lib­er­ately not a ‘tra­di­tional’ char­ity fund-rais­ing event — no black tie, no pur­chas­ing a ta­ble, no five-course din­ner. Our events are more like a cross be­tween a ca­sual net­work­ing event, a pitch­ing con­test and a fun cock­tail party. It’s also a much more per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence — you hear first-hand from the char­i­ties, get the op­por­tu­nity to ask ques­tions so that you know ex­actly how they spend their money and the im­pact it makes, and you choose which char­ity you want to sup­port de­pend­ing upon which cause res­onates with you the most.”

Af­ter each event, a new com­mit­tee of vol­un­teers gets se­lected to or­gan­ise the next one, and Costel­loe is al­ways over­whelmed by the enor­mous re­sponse from peo­ple ready to make their mark on the or­gan­i­sa­tion. The or­gan­i­sa­tion’s next event em­braces a part­ner­ship with Lo­cal­mo­tion, a skill-based vol­un­teer­ing plat­form which matches skilled vol­un­teers with young char­i­ties for short-term projects.

The rea­son 10x10 has man­aged to be so suc­cess­ful when many oth­ers seem to have char­ity fa­tigue? Costel­loe tells us it’s the fact that a sin­gu­lar event can man­age to cre­ate so many points of im­pact for peo­ple. “You can re­ally see, hear and feel how much it means to these char­i­ties to be on the stage ex­plain­ing the com­plex so­cial prob­lems they’re tar­get­ing and their in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions, the cause they have com­pletely ded­i­cated them­selves to and their plans for fu­ture growth. And it’s hard not to be moved.”

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