Lisa Cotton Stepping Down as CEO of The Funding Network
26 October 2017 at 4:29 pm
Lisa Cotton is set to step down as CEO of The Funding Network, six years after establishing the organisation and pioneering a new live collective giving format in Australia.
Cotton co-founded The Funding Network Australia (TFN) in 2012 with the late Steve Lawrence AO. TFN uses live crowdfunding events to facilitate capacity building for grassroots not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises, by connecting them with donors.
Since its launch, TFN has facilitated more than $6.8 million in funding to support grassroots not for profits and has hosted 50 live crowdfunding events.
TFN Chairman, Mark Osborn, said Cotton had been integral to the success of the organisation.
“Under Lisa’s leadership, The Funding Network (TFN) has deeply impacted both the social and philanthropic sectors in Australia and we’re so proud of what this lean organisation has achieved,” Osborn said.
“Lisa has worked with a terrific team to build a strong community of corporate, philanthropic, and government partners who, along with nearly 5,000 individuals have come together to support more than 165 grassroots non-profit organisations both locally and abroad.
“Lisa’s vision and uncompromising commitment to getting TFN off the ground and flourishing has contributed to the growth of the broader philanthropic ecosystem… [she leaves] TFN in an extremely strong position.”
Cotton told Pro Bono News that she decided to step down because the timing was right for a change in leadership, but said she would miss “everything” about TFN.
“I think as a founder, when you have an intention to step down, timing is really important,” Cotton said.
“And I felt after six years, and getting to the position where we are strong operationally and strategically knowing where we’re headed, that now was a good time to bring new leadership in.
“I’ll miss the inspirational people that I get to speak to every day, which includes my team and my board.
“I’ll also miss the exposure to some amazing social innovations, and the entrepreneurs behind that and their stories. So I’m afraid I’m probably [still going to] be hanging out at TFN events.”
She put TFN’s success down to tapping into people’s desire to help others and the need for funding that many community organisations had.
“I think that it’s just captured a societal need for people, who want to give back meaningfully within their means. There is so much need in the community and so many terrific programs that find it hard to access those people and that funding,” she said.
“So I think it’s just tapping into that supply and demand need, and the timing is perfect for something like collective giving right now.”
Julie McDonald, who is currently CEO of The Kolling Foundation, will become TFN CEO when Cotton officially steps down in February 2018. Cotton said she was delighted to hand over the reins to McDonald.
Going forward, Cotton said she believed the future was bright for TFN, and the model of collective giving in Australia it had helped to foster.
“I think collective giving is only going to grow exponentially. We’ve already witnessed in the last few years, a lot of replication with collective giving – by corporates and governments -and other collective giving models emerging,” she said.
“In terms of our strategic plans, we recognise that staging our own collective giving events alone will only achieve so much impact. So what we’re looking at doing is teaching others the methodology behind the TFN.
“That way, we get to empower them to take advantage of this really efficient and effective way not only to raise funds, but to connect to networks and give the donors a meaningful experience.”
Cotton said she had no concrete plans regarding her own future, and would only stay involved with TFN “at a distance” initially, after finishing as CEO.
“I’m going to have a break and consider what my next steps are going to be. But I’ve been 24/7 at this organisation and fully immersed in it the last six years,” she said.
“So I’m just going to put my head above the parapet, look around and breathe a little bit.”