How to boost your fundraising with live crowdfunding – Our Community Matters magazine

5 June 2019

How can you make your organisation’s fundraising stand out in an increasingly competitive market? Beatrix Kates from the Funding Network explains why ‘live crowdfunding’ is contagious fun.

For years we’ve fundraised the same ways – direct mail, gala balls, fun runs and the like. But with over 55,000 registered charities in Australia, it’s an increasingly crowded marketplace. And it’s only going to get more competitive, with government funding declining, and other funders becoming more demanding. At The Funding Network (TFN), we’ve changed the rules and facilitated over $10 million worth of fundraising for not-for-profit organizations – money that has supported hundreds of social change programs. All of these dollars have been raised using one method: live crowdfunding. It’s a tried-andtested model that engages donors in a fun and memorable way. And now, not-for-profits of any size can reap the rewards.

What is it?

Live crowdfunding is a form of collective giving event that involves people coming together to pool donations and resources. Think Kickstarter for not-for-profits, but live and in real time. It’s an inclusive form of giving, which means anyone can take part, from young professionals to retirees, corporates to philanthropic foundations. People gather to hear inspiring pitches from not-for-profit program leaders who are doing innovative work in the community. After the pitching comes the pledging. ‘Pledges’, or donations, typically start at $100, and there’s no upper limit. This provides the magic of the evening, enabling donors who have been touched by the stories they’ve heard to lend a hand.

Why does it work?

Anyone who’s been to a live crowdfunding event will agree that being in a room with likeminded, generous individuals inspires their own generosity. Giving is contagious, and that’s especially apparent during live crowdfunding. One person’s pledge of $100 can spark a chain reaction of generosity, quickly multiplying until it becomes $1,000 or even $10,000. The live experience is far more powerful than making a donation online or posting a letter. What’s more, the benefits are being felt on both sides. Not-for-profits can engage with donors in a collaborative and effective way, while diversifying their funding streams and reaching new audiences. Donors can connect meaningfully with not-for-profits, and support them at a personal level.

How to run your own live crowdfunding event

Planning is key. First, consider the number of guests you’d like to invite (we recommend 100– 200 people, typically a combination of existing donors and other supporters) and locate a venue that can accommodate your numbers. Next, you’ll need to issue invitations, making it clear you’re hosting a live crowdfunding event, and letting your guests know what to expect.

Now that you have the right people coming along, it’s time to think about how to showcase your work. Consider the people and programs you’d like to put forward from within your organisation, and give them plenty of support to perfect their pitch. Finally, a good MC is critical to your event’s success. An experienced MC brings energy to the room to lift donor engagement and participation – and ultimately donations.


Case study: Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI)

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) is the largest child health research institute in Australia and one of the top three worldwide. Staffed by over 1200 researchers, MCRI is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of childhood health conditions through scientific discovery. The Funding Network recently worked with MCRI Melbourne to run a white label event that would showcase their research to donors in a fun, accessible and memorable way. We provided pitch-coaching to MCRI program leaders, helped to get an MC on board, and lent support with pledge facilitation, donation collection, marketing and project management. The stars of the event were world-leading research scientists from MCRI, who gave stellar pitches: Professor Yves d’Udekem, Dr Bridget Southwell, Professor John Hutson and Dr Paul Eckert. MCRI’s audience was carefully selected from the institute’s donor database and other individuals known to support the areas of medical research being presented. Over 100 guests attended the event at the Royal Children’s Hospital auditorium in North Melbourne on a Tuesday night. They heard about ground-breaking work in cardiac, bowel and cancer research, along with moving personal stories. Audience members pledged more than $160,000 in half an hour, as well as in-kind support, and left with a greater understanding of the programs they were funding.

Can we help?

Thousands of Australians have already experienced the magic of TFN’s live crowdfunding events. Now, we’re sharing our knowledge so you can stage rewarding live crowdfunding events yourself. Our white label service guides you through the entire process, including event management, templates, pitch coaching, marketing, MC services, and support on the night to ensure success. For more information, click here or email info@

Click here to read the full article in the June issue of Our Community Matters magazine.