The Funding Network: going live! - Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine

13 June 2017

Funding for grassroots nonprofits via innovative live crowdfunding events is only the start for The Funding Network, explains Lisa Cotton.

The Funding Network is a capacity building model for grassroots nonprofit organisations and social enterprises that convenes live crowdfunding events and enables deeper donor connections into the community via skilled volunteering, mentoring and learning forums. Replicating a successful model in the UK, we piloted The Funding Network in 2013 and established it in Australia in 2014.

Our rationale? Social sector funding is narrowly directed, costly to raise, and a lack of access to networks and expert resources particularly for grassroots nonprofits is impeding social innovation in Australia. This is the issue we’re addressing.

Our vision is for a more equitable society, with a social sector that has access to the connections and resources it needs to thrive. We facilitate these connections and provide access to funding and in-kind support for the small, often unknown organisations having a positive impact in the community.

Our aims are to:

Funding via live crowdfunding events

Our grant making takes place in the form of live crowdfunding events. The Funding Network is pioneering an innovative and inclusive approach to philanthropy; enabling everyday individuals to pool their funds and have a greater impact than if they were to provide a single one-off donation.

In The Funding Network’s early years, our model was primarily focused on live crowdfunding events. Since then, we have evolved and adapted it to better meet the needs of the organisations we support.

With support from corporate and philanthropic foundations, we are moving to a broader capacity building model, by offering educational/learning initiatives such as pitch coaching workshops, evaluation workshops, mentor matching and skilled volunteering. 

The amount we grant each year varies depending on the funds facilitated at the live crowdfunding events we run.

To date, we have facilitated over $5 million (plus over $1 million in in-kind support) to over 135 nonprofits that address a range of pressing social issues and beneficiary groups, including homelessness, refugees, disability, Indigenous, youth, women and girls, unemployed, rural and remote, victims of crime or abuse and more.

Empowering everyday individuals

We’re empowering everyday individuals to support small, often unknown, grassroots nonprofits – whether they’re giving $100 or $1,000. The Funding Network’s model gives everyone the opportunity to contribute to the community in a meaningful way. Often at our events, corporate foundations provide matched funding, so donors can double their impact. Our live events create a human connection that is simply not possible online. The success of our model is partly attributable to the accessibility for charities and donors, as well as the transparency of where funds are being directed.

Donors receive progress updates over the course of the year and an impact report from the nonprofits they supported.

To sign up for events and updates visit To read nonprofit case studies and impact reports visit

Top fundraising tip 

Know your pitch and present with purpose, planning, practice – and passion! It is vital to clearly articulate your story and connect people to this so they believe in you.

Lisa Cotton

Lisa is Co-Founder & CEO of The Funding Network Australia. Previously she was Director of Social Investment at Social Ventures Australia. Lisa is Non-Executive Director of Kilfinan Australia, former Chairperson of Documentary Australia Foundation, former board director of School Aid Trust, and she currently sits on the Leadership Council of the Kokoda Track Foundation


Read the full article in Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine here.