Lani Evans

Lani is currently the CEO at Thankyou Payroll, who work to blend commerce and philanthropy, helping businesses get their payroll sorted to the satisfaction of the IRD with a portion of all transactions benefiting the local community. Brisbane-bred, Lani came to NZ to film a rock-climbing documentary and stayed, spending the next eight years adventuring, leading volunteers, and working at the intersection of youth, civic and conservation issues. 


What’s happening in the world of Lani Evans at the moment?

I like diversity and at the moment I'm doing a good job of mixing it up. I'm social-enterprising up a storm with the team at Thankyou Payroll, exploring devolved and democratic grant-making models with the Thankyou Charitable Trust, addressing youth participation with the forward-thinking folks at the Dunedin City Council and designing a (potential) solution to youth homelessness issues with the Malcam Trust. I love the diversity of thinking and doing in my days. I'm very lucky.


Describe the most generous person you know. How have they influenced you?

I think generosity often encompasses philanthropy, volunteering and random acts of kindness, but I reckon the most powerful (and difficult) form is generosity of spirit. For me that means always assuming best intent from others and entering interactions with curiosity and openness.

I have a couple of friends and mentors who I think do a really great job of role modelling generosity of spirit. Kate Frykberg and Francisca Griffin both remind me to pull back on the cynicism and assumption and meet people where they're at. Thanks ladies! You're great!


Can you name an everyday action that makes the world a better place, yet is underrated?

Hugging! Definitely hugging.

A ten second hug raises oxytocin levels and drops cortisol levels, which alleviates stress, drops your heart rate and reduces your blood pressure. And some researchers think that hugging reduces existential anxiety. Existential anxiety! That's some damn good medicine.

Plus, it's a nice, so, you know, next time you see me, give me a hug.


Can you tell us three things that inspire you and why? 

Adventures. I'm inspired by adventures, there are so many different places to see and so many different forms of movement to explore – it's never ending possibility. And the physicality of the outside world gives me mental space to reflect.

My favourite book inspires me too, Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino. It's full of imagination and potential and every time I read it, I get swept away by the imagery and ideas. So good!

And finally, problems – because there are probably solutions, right? That's inspiring.