Although a record-breaking $277, 450 was raised at the most recent event for collective giving organisation, The Funding Network (TFN), General Manager Tom Hull, is cautious.

The average amount raised at a TFN event is $80,000, and the outstanding result from TFN’s March 10 event came about because of an unusually high level of matched funding.

Because the event was a Families and Foundations event, each of the four family foundations match-funded $10,000 to one of the four organisations. On top of this, Macquarie Group Foundation match-funded $25,000 to each of the four nonprofits, meaning some $147,000 came from match-funding, rather than pledges from people in the room.

Hull is thrilled with the amazing result, but is keen to emphasise the fact that the intangible benefits organisations receive from being part of a TFN event are often just as important as the money.

“The pitch coaching gives participants the ability to better articulate their proposition and impact,” Hull says, “and this is crucial.”

“The in-kind help, the people they meet and the networks they can access and the significant increase in confidence from having almost everyone in the room pledge to support you makes a big difference….when we’re up in the Pilbara and raise $12,000 for each organisation, they have just as good an experience as the ones who raise more, because of all of these other aspects.”

TFN is an Australian nonprofit that hosts live collective giving events where like-minded individuals, foundations and corporations come together to create powerful social change. At each event, four social entrepreneurs running grassroots nonprofit organisations pitch for funding to a philanthropic audience.

The organisation was founded by Lisa Cotton and the late Steve Lawrence AO in 2013, in an effort to facilitate the democratisation of giving. To date, some 25 events in four states have raised more than $3.5 million for nonprofits.


Families and Foundations

Hosted and supported by Macquarie Group Foundation in Martin Place, Sydney, the March 10 event was abuzz with excitement as 250 gathered for drinks and nibbles before proceedings began.

The four social entrepreneurs running grassroots nonprofit organisations who presented were:

Genevieve Clay-Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Bus Stop FilmsGenerosity_TFN-Syd-Mar-2016

Sean Gordon and Winter Vincent (11 years old), KidsGive

Lopa Mehrotra, Board Member, Grameen Australia

Professor Jack Beetson, Literacy for Life Foundation

Each of the four presenters was given six minutes of speaking time to share their stories and convince the audience to support them. This was followed by six minutes of questions, which opened up the forum for discussion and interaction.

Time limits were strictly adhered to, in order to be fair to everyone.

Patrick Lindsay AM, set an uplifting and energetic tone in his role as emcee and pledging facilitator.

A surge of anticipation ran through the crowd as Lindsay announced the matched-funding and the bar was set very high with the first presentation by Genevieve Clay-Smith, Co-Founder & CEO of Bus Stop Films and NSW Australian of the Year for 2015.

Bus Stop Films runs courses on film making for people with a disability. It trains and empowers them, and some 80 per cent of graduates are in some kind of employment, including one former student who gained employment on an Angelina Jolie film.

“People with a disability face stigmas. Society underestimates them. This is costing our government $15 billion a year,’’ a passionate Clay-Smith said.

“We tap into their untapped potential. We help people with a disability develop life skills and confidence. We get mentors to help make professional short films, and they have been seen by more than three million… with your help we can smash stigmas.”

The next step for Bus Stop Films is to develop online courses on aspects of film making, and they’re aiming to create films to put on the film festival circuit.

And this will cost $20,000.

After a range of probing questions, including whether Clay-Smith had sourced partners to help with their next projects (the answer was yes: The Flagstaff Group), it was time for pledging to start.

But not before an advocate spoke: someone who had benefited from Bus Stop Films, and who shared what he had experienced and how worthwhile it had been. He kicked off pledging with $300.

The offers started gradually, and the audience saw the numbers go up, live on a big screen, by hundreds at first, but quickly by the thousands. With some cheeky matched pledging – “I’ll pledge $1000 if my mate does as well” – we were at $30,000 in the blink of an eye.

But it didn’t stop there. A few anonymous pledges came in and momentum started to build. A few children pledged $100 if their parents would match, and there was even the cheeky pledge of saying: “I’ll pledge $100 if so-and-so pledges $500.”

Before we knew it, we were at $38, 550. Surely that was way above the initial goal to raise $10,000?

No, someone else at the back there? $500…$100…another $1000. It went on. The stakes got higher, as did the matched-funding from the floor: “I’ll pledge $2,000 if my friend pledges the same amount” and the response: “I’ll go to $2,500 if my mate does the same.” Of course they did.

Applause and on to the next presenter.

One of the really good things about the night was the way in which the pledge facilitator came back to each cause at the end. By this time in the evening, the room was abuzz with excitement, people were chatting while enjoying a glass of wine, flushed with the feeling of doing good and giving…and the emcee said, How about a bit more?

Another $22,500 was raised for Bus Stop Films, bringing the total raised for them on the night to $66,000.

KidsGive received $60,300; Grameen Australia $65,000 and Literacy for Life Foundation $80,500.

The excitement and energy generated by this event was palpable, and the ongoing benefits to each of the organisations will be enormous.



Like to learn more about the power of collective giving? Tom Hull, General Manager of The Funding Network, will be part of a panel discussion on collective giving at the Generosity Forum on May 24, 2016 in Melbourne.



Kicking goals from coast to coast: The Funding Network celebrates 20 events and $2.5m in facilitated funding

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