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The Funding Network (TFN) is the UK's first and most successful open giving circle. It was founded in London in 2002 by four philanthropists who wanted to increase the impact and pleasure of giving to charity by doing it with others, it has now raised over £4.5 million for 600+ charities from over 4,000+ donors at 120+ funding events.
TFN is a registered UK charity and its main activity is staging events to which donors and would-be donors are invited to hear "pitches" or presentations from as many as five charities each seeking £5,000 for a social change project. Typically charities have a turnover of less than £1 million (often substantially less) and support causes and beneficiary groups which fall outside of the funding mainstream.
Prior to the funding event, charities have been through a donor-led selection process to ensure they meet the organisation's criteria for social change and that they cover a wide spectrum of need (education, health, conflict resolution, environmental sustainability and human rights), serve a range of beneficiary groups (women, children and young people, people facing social exclusion, refugee and asylum seekers, the elderly, disabled etc) and work across a range of geographies.
Following the presentations, guests are invited to make pledges to the five charities in an exciting auction-like process. In 2010-11, the average donation by an individual to a charity at a London event was £200 and the average amount raised in total at each event was just over £50,000. We believe that this relatively low barrier to participation combined with a high overall result is key to TFN's success. Donors are encouraged to celebrate the cumulative effect of their giving – i.e. "Tonight we raised £50,000 for charities" rather than "Tonight I gave £200 to charity". This is one of the cornerstones of our plans to build a culture of philanthropy amongst a group we describe as "the mass affluent".