I discovered The Funding Network at an event celebrating Nelson Mandela Day. They are an organisation that enables individuals to join together to fund social change projects. It turned out that they also have an off-shoot, The Youth Funding Network. This sounded like something that I might want to be a part of and decided to head along to their Halloween event.
The Youth Funding Network holds events where young people can join together with other young people to have fun and help make the world a better place at the same time. Their website perfectly sums up how these events work:
We have a cheap bar, live music, crafts and tasty treats. Then comes the really amazing part: at each event we invite 3 inspirational projects to tell us about their work, and pitch a specific project that they need funded. We hear exactly what they would do with any money raised, and have the chance to ask questions. After hearing from the different projects, there is a pledging session where you choose to donate your £10 ticket price to the project of your choice, with the option of donating more, or even volunteering your time if you want to. It’s a bit hard to explain, but hearing about the incredible things these people are doing, and seeing your contribution join up with those of others to support them to make a real difference, is a pretty great way to spend an evening.
I attended their Halloween special, entitled “Y The Fright Not?!“, taking place at a pub near Kings Cross Station. Walking in to be met by face painters, a lucky dip and an ‘apple bobbing’ bucket the organisers were certainly aiming for a relaxed environment and the emphasis on fun is obviously high on the agenda of priorities.
Over the course of the next hour we heard from three charities: Street Doctors, Lively Minds and Student Funder. All of the charity’s founders spoke convincingly about their respective causes and answered questions with high levels of detail and understanding.
The most exciting part of the evening was the part where the attendees make public pledges to the three charities. By the end of the pledging process £1939 had been raised in the room and this had been matched by a mystery benefactor (spooky!). In total almost £4000 was split between the three charities, a huge amount!
From this one visit I could see many positives of the format and why I will certainly look to attend in future:
1. This is a fantastic chance for young people to take control of where their money goes. How often do you get to meet a charity’s CEO or founder and question them about how they would spend your money?
2. The emphasis of their events, apart from raising thousands of pounds, is fun! The DJ, bar and all the Halloween effects meant that everyone seemed to be having a brilliant night. The fundraising, although infectious, is actually very relaxed and there was no point when I was made to feel guilty if I didn’t want to make any further donations.
3. It’s not all about the money. Volunteering is promoted from the start of the evening until the end. The event is run by some fantastic volunteers and everyone is encouraged to speak to the charity’s representatives to offer potential services and other ways in which they can help. People are encouraged to take a much more holistic approach in making an impact.
I would certainly recommend these events to friends and colleagues and hopefully drum up more cash and interest for some worthy charities.
This post was originally written by me for the London School of Economics, who have full copyright. See the original post.