UK Funding Network Aims for Social Change
19 July 2004 at 1:07 pm
The Funding Network (TFN) in the UK is a charity that links organisations with donors in a very innovative way, hoping to expand social change to a whole new group of people.
The Funding Network works by holding Funding Days several times a year in central London at which potential donors can hear ten presentations, across a wide range of issues, and from a mixture of UK and overseas organisations.
All projects are sponsored by a member (members pledge to give a minimum of £1,000 a year through TFN), and go through a selection committee also run by the members, which assigns the ten slots available on the day.
It’s the brainchild of a Canadian-born art dealer Frederick Mulder, who went to England on an Oxford Scholarship. He’s happy to say publicly that he’s made a lot of money and wants to give some of it away.
AS TFN chairman Mulder explains the Funding Days saying the morning consists of five brief (15 minutes including questions) presentations from the charities themselves followed by lunch at which the attendees get a chance to continue discussions with the presenters and with each other.
Mulder says that in the afternoon, five TFN members get eight minutes each including questions to present another five projects; the idea is to keep it interesting by having different sorts of presentations.
Then comes the unusual part, a pledging session where the audience call out their pledges for the presenting organisations, which get written up on flipcharts.
A UK daily newspaper described the TFN Funding Day as having an auction room atmosphere that turned giving money into a social activity.
Mulder says some participants support one project, some none, some all ten, and the pledges have ranged from £100 to £10,000 over the day.
He says the great advantage is that by the end of the session TFN knows exactly what has been raised, and people often adjust their pledges to make sure an organisation they’ve found particularly interesting gets the funding it needs (participants can also hand in written pledges if they prefer).
Mulder says each of the three Funding Days so far raised over £50,000 for the presenters.
He says those who attended seemed to enjoy the chance to hear about a number of carefully selected projects, the buzz of the pledging, and the satisfaction of having been part of raising significant sums.
He adds that the charities enjoyed it because they enjoyed having a face to face meeting with a large number of potential (and actual!) donors and were able to learn what colleagues in other fields were doing.
Mulder says those who attended range from individuals completely new to charitable giving to trustees scouting for their trusts.
The projects supported also ranged widely, from a women’s micro-credit project in Zambia, to a domestic violence project in Islington, North London, to policy work on transport.
Marion Webster the locum Executive Director of the Melbourne Community Foundation met with The Funding Foundation during her sabbatical in the UK last year.
Webster says they are a group of highly committed like-minded people who give a lot of thought to their funding and have a strong sense of social justice.
She says the proposals that are put to the potential donors are well researched and usually have a social change component.
Webster says that while there is nothing similar here in Australia, if handled sensitively has a great deal of promise.
Last year, the UK’s top 500 fundraising charities generated a total income of £8.6 billion ($AUD 22 billion) according to figures just released by the Charities Aid Foundation.
Of this, £4.6 billion (53%) was from voluntary sources.
Between 2002-03, the single largest source of income to the top 500 charities was donations and grants at 31%, followed by trading fees and contracts at 21%, grants from public bodies at 15%, and legacies at 13%.
For more information on The Funding Network go towww.thefundingnetwork.org.uk.