Vanisa Dhiru

Leader, networker and strategic coffee-meeting lover.

Vanisa Dhiru has been involved with a wealth of organisations, including Trade Aid, Volunteering NZ, ANZ, NZ Red Cross and more. Currently the Executive Director of the 2020 Trust, Vice President for the National Council of Women NZ and the Chair for our partner charity, Inspiring Stories, we take a moment to chat with Vanisa.


You’ve been involved with and supported many different charities. What was the first spark into your world of generosity?

Back when I was growing up in Palmerston North and helping out my parents in their dairy, I saw my mum and dad help out the community anyway they could – giving prizes for gala days, placing raffle tickets on the counter in the dairy, donating sausages and sauce for the sizzles... They didn't have the time to volunteer as they worked 7 days a week, from 7 to 11 every day – so they did the best they could by giving things they could.

My mum was always asked to help at the community fair, be on the school PTA, but she never had the time. As I saw my parents them give 'things', it made me realise that life was short and I wanted to give – both money and time. I will never aspire to 'do my good bit' once I retire... I figure if giving is what I want to aspire to do – why not just start giving now?

I've been involved in volunteering, donating goods and cash for as long as I can remember – my first gig was on the school road patrol at primary school – I went on to be involved in high school fundraisers, school councils and committees, helping out with fairs, boards. It is my dad who is my inspiration to buy almost any raffle ticket anyone is selling, as he used to buy most of the ones I needed to sell at school!l!

To slightly change the well known lyric “The female of the species is more generous than the male.” Why do you think that is?

I don't believe generosity is a gender issue – it's a mindset. Many of the people I know that are generous are of all genders – it is the motivation and the way everyone gives which is different.

What’s one of the best pieces of advice you’ve ever been given and who passed on these wise words?

Someone once told me to have coffee every week with someone new, that you have not met before. It's a great way to build your network and a good way to grab at least one hour in your week to chat about something strategic to someone – or not!

Most inspiring person to follow online and why?

I've joined the 13.7 million people that follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter, @narendramodi. He is super active and passionate about India and it's future. Given India is one of the key Asian-powerhouses, his thinking on projects, meetings, connections is of real interest. Not long ago, I remember seeing his selfie with Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang in Beijing – I saw it and thought, what a unique selfie pic to have been captured with leaders of the Asian world.

It has been through following PM Modi that I learnt about the #DigitalIndia campaign. Modi has opted to take a big step for this big country – a dream to see India be a leader of all areas of digital – high tech, business, community, literacy– a brave attempt to turn a country with such a diverse digital inclusion gap, to a country turning a corner in education and economic development. I love his commitment to this cause.

As a supporter of One Percent Collective, I'd love you to join me in pushing the generosity movement forward in New Zealand. Sign up to support the wonderful partner charities of One Percent Collective here. Thank you!