Millionaire-turned-social entrepreneur Dylan Wilk talks about what set him on a path for good.
Dylan Wilk is our idea of an #inspo story. He was a self-made multi-millionaire at 25 with a helicopter and stable of posh cars. Seeking meaning in life, he gave away his wealth to work with the poor in the Philippines and eventually started the social enterprise Human Nature.
We were honoured to have Dylan deliver a speech at NVPC’s Giving Matters Forum in January. Most interesting for us were the “turning points” he shared that nudged him down the path of good. We’ve picked out some of these, and suggest what they can mean for non-profit leaders looking to attract advocates.
Dylan Wilk delivered a stirring speech at NVPC’s Giving Matters Forum 2018.
1. Being Offered A Chance To Get Involved
Believe it or not, Dylan’s turning point was an invitation to get on a plane. He had written to offer a large donation to Gawad Kalinga (GK), a slum redevelopment programme in the Philippines. The answer from GK’s founder, Tony Meloto, changed his life. “He said, ‘If you want to help, please don’t just send money. Why don’t you come?’” Encouraged, Dylan flew over – and ended up staying for good! He says: “If GK had just said ‘thank you for donating’, my life would not have changed. But I changed because they involved me, they actually wanted me there.”
Food for Thought: Some people yearn to be more involved in your cause beyond just giving a cheque. They want to interact with your beneficiaries, and be on the ground with you. Are there ways to deeply engage them, so they become your superstar advocates? As Dylan says, “When you donate, what you feel is the pain of parting with your money. But when you see results and meet the people you’ve helped, you feel the joy of giving.”
2. Having Space To Contribute As a Volunteer
After his stint at Gawad Kalinga, Dylan Wilk co-founded social enterprise Human Nature
When he arrived at GK, Dylan was not assigned fixed tasks but had the freedom to observe what was going on. Other volunteers were building houses, which Dylan was not good at. Instead, he put his gift of the gab to good use and persuaded other partners to work with GK. Once people see the situation for themselves, they will naturally come up with ideas for how they can help, he says.
Food for Thought: Some volunteers prefer structured tasks, whereas others may not want to be pigeon-holed. How much autonomy can you afford the latter? More freedom might encourage them to step up and deploy their strengths to best serve your cause – sometimes in ways you never imagined.
“The people who transformed me were ordinary people on the ground, volunteers who sacrificed their evenings…These people can inspire others to make life-changing experiences.”
on the volunteers he met at Filipino NGO Gawad Kalinga
3. Encountering Everyday Heroes (ie: Other Volunteers!)
While Dylan’s personal journey has been reported in the news, he feels his is not the most inspirational story out there. In fact, he singles out the volunteers he met in GK who spent their evenings and weekends working in slums: “These people were 10 feet tall in my eyes because many of them were not much better off than the people they were helping. They made me realise I had to change.” When he has the chance, he brings them along for talks, so they can share their experiences with others.
Food for Thought: Your volunteers and staff probably joined your organisation because they were passionate about the cause. How can you leverage their passion to inspire others to step up? Are there opportunities for them to share their journey?
Check out another interview we did with Dylan Wilk!
Find out more about NVPC’s Giving Matters Forum 2018, which Dylan Wilk spoke at.