I found myself in the glorious setting of the Mansion House last week at the 10th anniversary of The Funding Network. The evening also launched a new initiative to encourage giving among City professionals – the City Philanthropy Wealth of Opportunity project.
The Funding Network (TFN) is a giving circle, also known as the ‘friendly dragon’s den for charities’, where pre-selected charities pitch to the audience followed by an open pledging session, raising around £5,000 per charity. The events are a great way for young, new or established givers to see and question a range of charities working in very different fields, to support them (the minimum pledge is £100) and to learn about the difference the money made after a period of time. Over its ten year history, TFN has expanded well beyond London to other regions in the UK and abroad, developed a specific Youth Funding Network for the under 25s, and in total has brought together over 4,000 individuals to raise over £4m for 600 charitable projects in the UK and around the world.
I was struck by a couple of things during the evening. First, it was, as always, inspirational to hear the five charities present the amazing work they do, in some cases bringing along beneficiaries telling their story of how the charity has helped turn their lives around. I would, quite frankly, have been happy to support any of the five organisations, but like any donor with limited resources, had to make a choice. And it’s hard to choose between five great charities, let alone the much greater choice facing most donors on a day-to-day basis. In response to this difficulty, NPC has started to provide training courses on how to select great charities, highlighting key questions to ask charities, how to identify strengths and weaknesses and how to quickly assess a charity’s finances – these sessions have seen great interest from donors of all types.
But I was also struck by the joy that giving clearly provides, even on a small scale. The girl sitting next to me announced that she would match the next £100 raised with her £100 then turned round, grinning and said “that was my first ever match!”. Although larger donations were being offered as match funding, you could feel her excitement both at pledging her support but also encouraging others to do the same.
And that’s really one of the main purposes of the new City Philanthropy project – aiming to be a source of inspiration, helpful resources and engaging events for City professionals. Part of the initiative will be a new CityFunding Network – the first of which is being held on 23rd July.
We wish both the City Philanthropy initiative and the Funding Network all the best in their endeavours to spread the word about the joys of giving, particularly to a new generation of philanthropists.