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Meet a TFN volunteer

Sue Raikes is a volunteer with The Funding Network (TFN), and is the driving force behind our annual live crowdfunding event in Oxford. With our TFN Oxford event coming up in May, we spoke to Sue about her time volunteering with TFN.

How did you become involved with TFN?

'I started coming to TFN London events 12 years ago - I found out about it through friends who were already involved. We were chatting about how we choose to give our money to charity, and they suggested that I might enjoy TFN London events.

I came to the London events for a couple of years and then it was suggested that I set up TFN Oxford. I had reservations at first, as London isn’t far to get to from Oxford, I wasn’t sure if an Oxford group would be sustainable. We’re about to have our 9th event so it appears there is a demand for a regional TFN group!'

What do you enjoy most about TFN Oxford events?

'I enjoy hearing about new ideas happening in the area, and discovering brand new charities. I consider myself to be reasonably well-connected in terms of charities in Oxford but each time we hold a TFN Oxford event, something new and exciting that I’ve never heard about comes out of the blue!

I also like that TFN Oxford gives me the opportunity to sponsor projects I’ve discovered to pitch at the live crowdfunding event. Our events are smaller and cover a smaller area than the TFN London events, and I think this means the projects are able to get a great public profile from taking part. We get strong publicity in the Oxford press and this really helps young charities to develop. I have a strong preference for supporting small, early-stage projects because I think the money raised can go further in a smaller organisation. I’m always really proud to support projects who haven’t secured funding yet and love to see how they go on to do great things. That’s why we made our ‘Where Are They Now?’ video last year, where we went to chat to some projects we’ve supported in the past to see what progress they’ve made.'

Can you tell us about a project you’re particularly proud of supporting at TFN Oxford?

'Student Hubs pitched at our event in 2009 when their idea was completely new, encouraging students to engage in voluntary work by providing a focus for student volunteers. Student Hubs is now a well-established project, with its own building in Oxford and a great kitchen! They’re operating across universities on a national level and I’m very proud that TFN Oxford supported them from the very beginning.

In terms of the projects we’re supporting at this year’s event on 5th May, I think Host Oxford’s project is really interesting because they offer a practical response to the helplessness that people are feeling towards the refugee crisis. Host Oxford helps residents to offer spare rooms to refugees who otherwise would have nowhere to sleep, not being eligible for night shelters. This is a really direct solution to a current problem, and is an example of a project that benefits those who need it and changes the way we view a problem by exploring ideas of what we can do on a practical level.'

As well as Host Oxford, you can discover and support Assisted Reading for Children, The Mix Community Space and Aldates Community Transformaion Initiative at our event on 5th May. Tickets are only £5 and are available now.

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Email: info@thefundingnetwork.org.uk

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