Behind the scenes at a CFN selection panel
Hugh has been a TFN member for four years and has been involved with our City Funding Network since it began. A few months ago, he got involved with selecting projects for our September event in partnership with BeyondMe. Here he tells us what it was like to be part of the rigorous selection process.
The City Funding Network connects City based professionals with the fast growing and niche social enterprises who need funding. Behind the CFN fundraising events themselves, there’s important work in selecting organisations to pitch, and in September I attended a selection panel to help with this. Seven of us took part, with everyone reviewing detailed information packs, and rating the charities on a number of factors before getting together for the telephone interviews. This was actually a nice way to do things: the rating process forced us to consider particular factors, and rank each charity according to these benchmarks; and the ten minute telephone call was a good way to bring it all together. We finished by whittling down the long-listed charities, arriving at the three we thought we most suitable to pitch at the fundraising event. One of the interesting things about attending the panel was how it helped us crystallise why we would actually put forward a particular charity, and this gets to the heart of what CFN is all about. CFN is a great way for the less well known charities, for the niche, or even less developed, to get funding. CFN plays the role of an early stage investor: we provide acceleration capital to social enterprises in the early growth stage of their development. With this in mind, we selected three well managed, specialist enterprises that we thought would both benefit from the funding, and also (and perhaps crucially), may not have gotten it elsewhere.
The fundraising events are a mix of lively presentations, gentle questioning, and ending with a wall of donations. It’s striking how small organisations can spend just six minutes pitching and end up with close to £10,000 in funding. As an exercise in responsive and responsible capital allocation it stands second to none.