Close Search
News  |  Charity & NFPFundraising

A new kind of corporate partnership

7 March 2023 at 8:52 am
Ruby Kraner-Tucci
Iconic beauty brand Mecca’s social change initiative M-Power offers partnering not for profits just about anything they need to tackle gender equality.

Ruby Kraner-Tucci | 7 March 2023 at 8:52 am


A new kind of corporate partnership
7 March 2023 at 8:52 am

Iconic beauty brand Mecca’s social change initiative M-Power offers partnering not for profits just about anything they need to tackle gender equality.

The fact that cosmetics brand Mecca shares its name with a holy meeting place is not ironic. The company is the epicentre of beauty in Australia and New Zealand, with over 100 retail stores, 7,000 employees and four million customers – around 95 per cent of whom are women.

With the corporate sector increasingly turning its attention to ESG and impact, Mecca too has launched a social change initiative in Mecca M-Power, which unsurprisingly given its audience, is focused on gender equality and empowerment.

What is perhaps less predictable is the structure of M-Power: a three-year personalised partnership with a collective group of not for profits that includes First Australians Capital, Wellsprings for Women and AllPlay, among others. The support offered is completely bespoke – whatever the organisations need to advance their causes, M-Power aims to provide.

Executive director Lisa Keenan said M-Power effectively acts as an incubator and accelerator, with many organisations in the collective just in the start-up phase of their development.

“Our role is to provide funding in a multi-year context where we are backing the founders and leaders of those organisations and their strategies to affect change,” Keenan told Pro Bono News.

“It’s not project specific, it’s not tied, it’s really about supporting whatever it is that they need. And if we can’t support it, we also see our role as being to connect them to others in our network who may be able to.”

While M-Power originally started in 2017 with a focus on education as a lever for empowerment, the initiative switched gear last year and re-launched in October 2022, concentrating on the importance of collective action.

During this time, M-Power partnered with an additional 15 not for profits with aligned goals, shortlisted by an external advisory group that included CEO of Australians Investing In Women Julie Reilly. It also created a fundraising platform that enables the public to donate directly to the not for profits it supports, without going through Mecca.

“It was very important to me to be able to provide an audience that has historically been really familiar with Mecca as a destination. You don’t go to Mecca to buy lipstick, you go there expecting a full service offer as a consumer,” continued Keenan.

“So for those audiences to be able to move across to M-Power and see the Mecca brand in a new way, but to also be able to align themselves and their giving with a group of organisations that represent the spectrum of ways in which we can tackle gender inequality, and provide opportunities for women and girls, that was definitely something that we were seeking to create.”

What the more sceptical among us may interpret as ticking a box or even impact washing, Mecca clearly refutes – the beauty brand is deeply connected with the organisations in its collective and invested in their success.

Youth homelessness charity Bridge It, for example, received ten per cent of its operating budget from M-Power as well as a newly-designed website and marketing support.

Founder and CEO Carla Raynes said it has “been absolutely huge” to have the support of a high-profile organisation, particularly for Bridge It, a new charity that launched in 2021 and is yet to develop its own credibility.

“It’s not just about money. They really believe in our cause. They actually care about our young people,” said Raynes.

“Mecca’s leading the way in what the dream funding looks like for organisations like Bridge It. We’re the new kids on the block and a lot of funders only want to fund organisations that have been around for a really long time and have proven their impact, which leaves no room for innovation or for doing anything differently.

“What Mecca did was catapult Bridge It into the public’s awareness, and what I found is that there’s been a snowballing effect of other funders. Because of Mecca’s involvement, we’ve now got four corporates that are backing us.”

Meanwhile, not for profit Global Sisters, which supports women who are facing barriers to mainstream employment to launch their own businesses, has benefited far more from the exposure and reach afforded by M-Power.

Founder and CEO Mandy Richards said in addition to receiving funding, Mecca has bought products from Global Sisters’ network of microbusinesses; provided business coaching; and collaborated with its female beauty entrepreneurs on products, with some set to be sold in Mecca stores.

“Getting some money to fund our operations is great, but the real value in this relationship for us is the leverage and the opportunities for our sister businesses. That sort of opportunity just can’t be bought. Every beauty business in Australia wants to be in Mecca,” said Richards.

For Global Sisters, like most not for profits, corporate partnerships help to lower costs and increase impact, but Richards is quick to point out the benefits go both ways.

“This ticks so many boxes for corporates. Working with an organisation like Global Sisters gives them meaning and it gives them a purpose. That is conveyed to their employees and their team, their partners and their customers,” said Richards.

“That’s something that they can’t buy, purpose is key for every big organisation now, so it’s very much a two-way relationship.”

Business prioritising philanthropy or social impact similarly resonates with Keenan, who argues that while it shouldn’t be mandatory for corporations to support charity, it does offer huge potential to better connect with stakeholders, employees and investors.

“There is a role in society for business, government and individuals to work together to solve big social issues,” said Keenan.

“Clearly, businesses have a role to serve stakeholders and importantly, shareholders. They are employers of many thousands of people who are, and this is certainly a shift, increasingly motivated by purpose and meaning.

“Having a set of beliefs that you can embody within your company values that can direct your philanthropic support is really helpful. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s incumbent upon business to serve charity, but I think it’s an enormous opportunity. I think most customers and team members would be hugely supportive of initiatives to change the game for those less fortunate.”

Ruby Kraner-Tucci  |  @ProBonoNews

Ruby Kraner-Tucci is a journalist, with a special interest in culture, community and social affairs. Reach her at

Get more stories like this



Impact films take aim at social sector

Ruby Kraner-Tucci

Wednesday, 1st March 2023 at 4:14 pm

Time for fundraising to evolve, says FIA chair

Danielle Kutchel

Wednesday, 1st March 2023 at 10:34 am

The rise and rise of op shops

Danielle Kutchel

Monday, 27th February 2023 at 4:50 pm

Regulator issues donation warning in wake of Türkiye earthquake

Ruby Kraner-Tucci

Monday, 13th February 2023 at 3:46 pm

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook