Do something good: The Funding Network

The Funding Network, which is described as “the Dragon’s Den for charities”, is a not-for-profit organisation which allows social entrepreneurs to pitch for funds at live crowd-funding events. Management asked the charity and two of its key supporters, Macquarie Group Foundation and Macquarie Private Wealth New Zealand, to tell us more.

Could you explain what the TFN is and how it works?
In September 2014, Auckland Community Foundation, in partnership with local businessman Nick Edgar, teamed up with Philanthropy New Zealand, The Macquarie Group Foundation and Macquarie Private Wealth New Zealand to launch TFN in New Zealand.

The inaugural TFN event in New Zealand resulted in dozens of generous Kiwis pledging more than $51,000 to four charities in just 34 minutes. The Macquarie Group Foundation matched a third of the funds pledged on the night under its staff support policy, to create a total of $68,000.

Four New Zealand charities were selected for the Auckland showcase. The groups were mentored and received pitch training to prepare for their six minute presentation on stage, followed by fielding six minutes of questions before the pledging sessions began.

A year later, each organisation will report back to donors on the impact of the funding they received. One of the many positive effects of these events is that it brings smaller, less known charities to the attention of a new group of potential supporters and advocates. Following the September event attendees went on to make further donations with one attendee making significant donations to two of the charities who presented, seeing the September event total grow to more than $160,000.

Who was it set up by and in association with?
TFN was launched in London in 2002 by philanthropist and art dealer Dr Frederick Mulder and has since spread around the world, with more than 150 TFN events held, 750 charities supported and at least NZ$13 million raised.

“The Funding Network aims to democratise philanthropy by providing an attractive and accessible entry point for new givers,” says Dr Mulder, who was in Auckland for the first NZ event. “The TFN model caters to a group we describe as the ‘mass affluent’; those whose giving may not put them in the same league as a Bill Gates, but who nonetheless have the capacity to make meaningful financial and in-kind contributions to issues they care about. They also get to experience the fulfilment and enrichment that comes from this.”

TFN’s model recognises that success in this space isn’t just about finances; it’s about community.

“The environment we create inspires people to raise more as a group than they could as individuals,” says Mulder. “It also encourages people to give more than just money. Our guests hear about new solutions to community issues, they ask questions, and then they pledge support to social entrepreneurs who have big ideas but limited resources.”

Helping launch TFN in New Zealand were businessman Nick Edgar and the CEO of Auckland Communities Foundation Hilary Sumpter, who independently enquired with the UK TFN group about establishing a New Zealand group. They then formed a steering committee with the aim of bringing TFN to Auckland.

Sumpter believes working with TFN can help widen the fundraising landscape in New Zealand. “Our aim is to use TFN to broaden the culture and practice of giving by making it accessible, engaging, collaborative, fun and rewarding for all.”

Who specifically is it helping?
The Funding Network aims to fund organisations that do one or more of the following:

  • Address issues of inequality and disadvantage.
  • Provide advocacy with the potential to improve society.
  • Change attitudes, behaviours, laws and public policy.
  • Find a better solution to an underlying problem.
  • Pilot solutions with the potential for expansion.

TFN supports small to medium-sized organisations, for which the amount of funding raised would make a genuinely useful contribution. In New Zealand this means organisations with an average turnover of $500,000 per annum or less.

Can you name the organisations that have benefited so far?
The organisations that benefited from the inaugural event in September were:

  • Tread Lightly Caravan, Auckland’s only mobile environmental classroom.
  • Nga Rangatahi Toa Creative Arts Initiative which supports young people excluded from mainstream schooling.
  • Clown Doctors (Wilson Home Programme), who bring the medicine of laughter to hospitals.
  • Te Whakaora Tangata Amokura Teen Parents Programme which empowers vulnerable young mothers in south Auckland.

Each received between $10 and $15,000 from the event’s pledges.

How did Macquarie become involved?
Macquarie’s philanthropic arm, the Macquarie Group Foundation, was a cornerstone supporter of TFN when it established operations in Australia and, alongside Macquarie Private Wealth NZ, is now a key supporter of the organisation in New Zealand. Macquarie Private Wealth NZ co-sponsored the inaugural event in September, with the Macquarie Group Foundation matching a third of the funds pledged on the night.

“We have seen the impact TFN has had in Australia and we want New Zealand to share that experience,” says Laurence Fitzpatrick, head of Macquarie Private Wealth NZ.
“TFN brings together the elements innovative charities need to succeed. It offers social entrepreneurs the rare opportunity to showcase their work, secure funding and mentoring, and expand their donor base and networks. It’s a special mix and one we’re proud to be part of.”

Macquarie Private Wealth NZ is continuing its support this year through the sponsorship of events and a grant will be provided by the Macquarie Group Foundation to assist with the operational support of TFN NZ.

Why did this particular organisation appeal to Macquarie?
Macquarie has a long history of supporting community organisations with which Macquarie staff are involved and a number of Macquarie employees in offices around the world, including Australia, the US and the UK, have been very keen ambassadors of TFN’s work. As well, the Macquarie Group Foundaton has a particular focus on delivering long-term community benefits in innovative ways and TFN very ably meets this funding criteria.

How could other Management magazine readers get involved?
Anyone can get involved with TFN by nominating charities, volunteering to help with events and attending events (subject to place availability).

How important is involvement in the not-for-profit sector to Macquarie? Does it support any other NFPs?
Macquarie has a belief that it should support the communities in which its staff live and work. In New Zealand, the Macquarie Group Foundation currently supports the Akina Foundation, which aims to grow social enterprise across the country. Macquarie Private Wealth also supports the Arts Foundation, as a platinum partner.


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