Feel-good philanthropy

By Matilda Macduff 1 April 2011 2 minute read

Last week some colleagues and I experienced our first Youth Funding Network (YTFN) event. YTFN is a baby version of The Funding Network (which we have blogged about before), and has a similar format: three charities have five minutes to pitch their project and make the case for investment to a room of donors. Donors then pledge money to the organisations that have most impressed them, while the total raised mounts up on a big screen.

This pledging session showed the power of the peer effect. There was a lot of matched funding—‘I’ll give another £X if others in the room will contribute to match it’—which succeeded in boosting the amount raised significantly. But my favourite bit of the evening (and I would say this, working at NPC) was when a project which had received funding from a previous event, Hackney Pirates, returned to tell everyone about the impact of the donation.

Hackney Pirates uses one-to-one attention from local volunteers to develop literacy and creativity in young people in Dalston, and last July, they pitched their project at YTFN. They raised enough to run a pilot during the summer holidays with 29 children from 16 local schools. The results of this pilot allowed them to successfully apply for funding to develop the project further, and they are now in the second stage of the pilot, trialling the model in term-time.

Some donors might be put off by thinking that their donation won’t make much difference to a project, but this example shows how even a relatively small amount (the July event raised about £5,500 in total, split between three projects) can have a significant impact on a start-up organisation. I like the idea that donors are able to receive reports from the charity in person about what has been done with their donation at a future event.

YTFN is specifically aimed at young people, many of whom may be earning enough to start thinking about donating more to charity, but unsure where to begin. It engages people in philanthropy from an early point in their career. The evening was fun and feel-good, held in a great venue. There was no pressure to give more than you wanted to, or felt you could afford. The atmosphere was very positive, rather than the ‘guilt tripping’ which is often associated with charities asking for money and which can turn donors off. YTFN is making giving a fun experience, not fuelled by guilt but by positivity, which is a sure-fire way to keep people coming back to give more.