What to expect at your first TFN event: An interview with Frederick Mulder CBE
We spoke to The Funding Network’s co-founder and long-standing member, Frederick Mulder, to find out exactly what to expect at a TFN live crowdfunding event.
What does a typical TFN event look like?
A typical event brings together between 60 and 100 people on a weekday evening, often at a corporate firm’s offices in London. There’s about 45 minutes of mingling with refreshments before the crowdfunding begins. The leaders from three pre-selected charities will be there and have stands up where you can talk to them before and after the event.
The MC will give a short presentation to kick things off and the charity representatives will then make their pitches. Each charity gets the same amount of time (strictly observed!) to present (6 minutes) and to answer questions (6 minutes), and each asks for the same amount of money (normally £10,000).
The MC then leads the audience through an interactive pledging session. Attendees call out their pledges: “John, £200”, or “Mary, £300”. It goes very quickly! The TFN team keeps a running total and this allows us to see how close we are to the charity’s target. There are two rounds of pledging, after which we declare the total and bring the charities back on stage to applaud and to thank them.
How do virtual events differ?
There are a couple of differences, namely the refreshments – unfortunately you will have to self-cater! They are also a bit shorter – 90 minutes. We use an online streaming platform called Crowdcast - it has a chat box where you can simply type in your pledge and that seems to work remarkably well.
One of the great things about TFN events is that the impact goes beyond the money we raise. Some attendees go on to support the charities privately; others provide pro bono help or become a trustee. The amount we raise at our events is really only a small part of the impact we have.
What did your first event look like? How were you feeling? What was the result?
My (and TFN’s) first event was in 2002. In some ways it was much the same. Projects pitched for funds and we asked questions. The difference was that it was an all-day event on a Saturday and we had ten projects, not three! I’m pleased to say we overshot our target and raised a little over £50,000. I was delighted and a little relieved to see that the model would work.
How are TFN’s live crowdfunding events different to a charity gala?
I’ve been to a few charity galas. When you go to a gala you are there to be entertained, well fed and well watered. With TFN we decided to dispense with the entertainment and concentrate on the charities and making their projects happen. We can get our entertainment elsewhere.
TFN events are a lot shorter than charity galas; no carriages at 11. I like a good dinner as much as the next person, but when I’m trying to address a social issue and provide support, I prefer to eat lighter and to get the job done.
Do I have to donate? Will I feel pressured to give?
We try hard to make sure everyone feels welcome and doesn’t feel any pressure. You are welcome to come along just to see how it all works. If you are inspired by the charities pitching on the night and like the work they do, then the live pledging session gives you that opportunity to support their work.
You can also offer non-financial support. One of the great things about TFN events is that the impact goes beyond the money we raise. Some attendees go on to support the charities privately; others provide pro bono help or become a trustee. The amount we raise at our events is really only a small part of the impact we have.
What’s the typical size of donation?
With TFN I often say that one’s giving should be somewhere between a gesture and a sacrifice.
Most of the pledges at our events are between £100 and £1000, but there is no ‘typical’ donation. We have many pledges of £100-£500, fewer between £1000 and £2000, and sometimes in the £5000-£10,000 range. Wherever you pitch your own gift there are sure to be others who will come in at the same level.
The minimum pledge at our in-person events is £100, and this is often dropped to £50 during the second round of pledging. At our virtual events we tend to be more flexible about that and our MC may invite pledges under £50.
Who will be there?
At our in-person events you can expect between 60 and 100 people. At our virtual events it’s closer to 120. It’s is a real mixture both in age (from 18-80) and professions. We get doctors and nurses, business people and lawyers, and also people from the art world (my world – I deal in European printmaking) and the theatre.
Will there be food?
At our in-person events there is always food and drink, but at our virtual events you will have to cater for yourself. Our events are often hosted by a law firm, a bank or an investment firm and they make sure we are well fed.
What is the dress code?
There is no dress code. Some people come in jeans, others in suits, trousers or dresses.
Are TFN events free?
Our virtual events are free to all. At our in-person events, TFN members come free and new attendees normally pay £20 for a ticket, which helps to offset our costs.
Why should someone go to a TFN event?
Most people who come to an event find it’s a really inspiring experience. You will be exposed to the social problems communities and countries are facing and the innovative ways people are addressing them. And what’s wonderful is you then have a chance to join with other people to help solve these problems. The amount you are able to give might not do a huge amount on its own, but when it’s pooled with the donations of 60 other people it can make a real difference.
I would love to see you at an event, and do please come and say hello!
About our live crowdfunding events
The Funding Network brings together donors and grassroots charities at live crowdfunding events. Our now virtual events are free and open to all.