Friday Interview: Katherine Davies
Meet amazing Katherine Davies, who after being engaged in politics, being a journalist and writing a book, became a philanthropist and created iguacu, a non-profit enterprise that gives people advice on how to help the world where help is most needed.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career path.
I’m a positive person, the relentless kind. I also like to understand the truth of a situation and connect with people meaningfully. My career ‘path’ has had no straight lines, but on reflection, there’s been something important I’ve learned at every step. Working as a newspaper reporter was fascinating as was working for parliamentarians in both Australia and Westminster. I did not belong in the City of London, nor in a tabloid newspaper, nor in a bureaucracy or dysfunctional charity, but I have often learned the most at the jobs I’ve liked the least. Except for iguacu (igwah-soo). I am learning all the time and I love it.
You are very involved in politics. How did that interest begin?
I am no longer involved in politics but I value my past engagement and don’t join in the mud-slinging of politicians. You get the democracy you deserve. I first got involved in politics before I understood the meaning of the word, stuffing envelopes as a very young child. My father was campaign manager for a Federal MP in Australia. I remember the excitement of elections. In Australia everyone votes. I remember balloons, anticipation, everyone getting involved, it was festive and a moment that engaged all the country.
You also published a book, Cicada. What led you to write it? What message do you want to give people?
Yes well I tried to learn to write a novel. I had always dreamed of writing and it was great to get the chance to actually write and finish a novel. My ‘thriller’ sits somewhere down the bottom of Amazon. A well-read friend had said I write action like Ian Fleming and I should try a thriller. That’s like getting a little fit walking around the park regularly and then taking on K2. It was a great experience for how it changed me. I looked at life more deeply after that. As for the novel’s message, the sound of the cicada symbolised the corrosive corruption that can creep into our lives and society when people look the other way. There was of course a strong female protagonist.
Can you tell us a bit about iguacu? How did that idea come to your mind?
iguacu is a new global platform for effective giving found at weareiguacu.com The idea came to me when I was thinking about the Syrian war and the horrendous suffering there. I wanted to do something to help, perhaps try to donate to an effective charity. I felt frustrated that it was really hard to know which charity to donate to, where to start to find out. So many charities online all with similar messages. I had worked a little in the world of charities and knew the kind of dysfunction that could exist.
It occurred to me that wherever there is large scale human suffering, all over the world there are many millions of people like me with the same reaction, wanting to help, effectively, but unsure how to go about it. I wondered why, with all our tech savvy, smarts and interconnectedness, why can’t we create a platform that honours and serves effectively this compassionate response to suffering? I later realised that everything I had ever done had given me the tools to create such a service. And when I saw the amazing reaction to the idea, I realised this was something big, something very special. I indeed feel very honoured to be a guardian of iguacu.
Is iguacu going to be the amazon of charitable giving?
There is no question. When you think of large scale human suffering, you will think of iguacu. We are so focused on building a trusted platform people love – wonderful people keep coming forward to join KIS (our feedback community) – and iguacu represents something that is missing in people’s lives. When we reach out to people in suffering, we open and heal our own hearts, we become whole. There is great great joy in compassion.
According to you, what is the main thing iguacu has taught you?
iguacu shines a light on people’s highest selves, we see ourselves for the amazing loving people we truly are, underneath all the fear. And the more we bring compassion into our lives the greater joy we feel.
If you had a single piece of advice you would like to share with every person who wishes to get involved in the non-profit field, what would it be?
Know yourself. The closer you get to the authentic you, you’ll be better able to align with the right entity and express your talents and potential to the greatest benefit of humanity. In the meantime, if you’re stuck in a job you hate, learn everything you can.