The Funding Network shakes up fundraising in COVID-19 era
In the midst of a challenging period for fundraising events across the country, an organisation is proving that innovation and adaptability critical to successfully keep moving forward.
The Funding Network (TFN) is the largest collective giving model in Australia, having run 99 live crowdfunding events to date, facilitating over $13 million for more than 320 non-profit programs.
Speakers at TFN events pitch to raise funds for programs supporting Australians in need, with the model relying on people attending in person and pledging donations.
As with most organisations dependent on raising funds through events, COVID-19 was poised to have a detrimental impact on both TFN’s operations and its ability to continue supporting non-profits.
Being a small not-for-profit also meant TFN was in a position to be incredibly agile.
Their model has been swiftly adapted to an online platform, with the small team facilitating their first ever Virtual Live event in late April. The pilot raised close to $190k for three deserving non-profits working in the mental health space.
They have now also extended their service for fee offering to work with larger non-profits and companies to run private crowdfunding events, using their tried and tested virtual formula to support like-minded organisations.
The first of these events was hosted by Wayside Chapel in late May to further success, with $215, 000 pledged. The TFN team are now planning their next virtual event in partnership with AMP, which will take place on June 25.
TFN’s CEO Julie McDonald revealed that the key to moving their format to the online world has been to apply the same philosophy they would to any live event, keeping the virtual experience as close as possible to the in-person model.
“Thousands of Australians have participated in our live events and have experienced the energy and excitement that comes from the pitch and pledge format,” she explained. “These events are all about storytelling and interaction, so in the transition it was critical to maintain that level of engagement across presenters, MC and audience. We spent a lot of time working through how we could mirror these elements online, including real time challenges, questions and pledging of funds.”
Julie says the team spent weeks reviewing various platforms before selecting Crowdcast as the right fit, with presenters pitching on screen and the audience pledging donations via a LiveChat function. On the night of their pilot event, hundreds of attendees logged in from their homes, from Sydney to London to Budapest, to ask questions of the presenting partners and pledge their support.
“We have been blown away by the outcome of our first two pilots,” Julie enthused. “In under four hours, we have raised over $400, 000 for deserving organisations and we now have a robust and cost-effective model for future events.”
Julie added that the learnings garnered from the process have opened up the potential to expand TFN’s future events to new and broader audiences.
“For some time we have been considering how we can use technology to think differently about our events and expand our reach to new audiences,” she explained. “COVID-19 was the catylyst for us to take this leap into innovation and it is really heart warming to discover how generous people continue to be, despite a challenging period currently. Aussies are still wanting to help the causes that are close to their hearts and especially right now, at a time when they need it most.”