From live to virtual: How TFN transformed its events - F & P magazine

“We were absolutely blown away,” says The Funding Network CEO Julie McDonald of the success of TFN’s first virtual crowdfunding event. 

how to create a virtual event

A couple of years ago I experienced an emotional night of pitching and pledging atop a gleaming skyscraper.

That was in a pre-COVID-19 world, when The Funding Network, could still run live crowdfunding events. When a crowd up to 200 could come together in a heady mix of nerves, laughter and tears to help fund organisations trying to make the world a better place.

The last TFN Live event was held was in early March, raising just shy of $200,000. But as the coronavirus took hold, it became apparent TFN’s model would no longer be viable.

That model is pretty straightforward. TFN partners with corporations and philanthropic foundations to host live crowdfunding events that will fund grass-roots organisations addressing a particular social problem. Organisations are identified and vetted through an application process and representatives from three successful orgs receive pitch coaching. On the night they each have six minutes to pitch their cause or project and then take questions from the audience. After they have all pitched, they leave the room and the live pledging begins, facilitated by a dexterous MC.

A Mexican Wave of generosity is followed by hushed, eager anticipation as all three re-enter the room. I still have to blink away tears remembering their faces as they realised how much money the crowd had raised.

Choosing to see the crisis as an opportunity, TFN swiftly moved to repurpose an upcoming live event scheduled to be held in Melbourne into a virtual one.

“Technology to reach a broader audience was already a strategic priority, so, if anything, this gave us the quest to accelerate the plan and to think of it differently,” says TFN CEO Julie McDonald.

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