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Blog: MID at The Funding Network

Blog: MID at The Funding Network

28th February 2017

By Clare Ungerson

One winter evening I made my way to the offices of a law firm in the City of London to go to an event organised by a charity that I belong to called The Funding Network (TFN). TFN is a membership organisation and anybody with an interest in helping small charities with an annual turnover of less than £1million is very welcome to join. It raises money for the charities it supports by holding ‘events’ where, on a weekday evening and in front of a paying audience of about 100 people, four voluntary organisations present their case for additional funding. They are each allowed precisely 6 minutes for their presentation and a further 6 minutes for Q and A. When the presentations are over, their representatives are asked to leave the room and then the fundraising begins. Individuals in the audience are encouraged to offer relatively small amounts - usually a minimum of £100 and the most I have ever heard anyone offer is £2000 - to support the four charities. Almost always, at least £6000 is raised for each charity. The atmosphere is lighthearted, congenial and supportive and by the end of the evening both the audience and the representatives of the four charities leave the event smiling.

John pitching to The Funding Network

John pitching to The Funding Network

Voluntary organisations can only apply to TFN through a TFN member who acts as their sponsor for the fundraising evening. I was therefore delighted when John Speyer asked if I would sponsor Music In Detention. It was a ‘natural’ for me. Some years ago I was a visitor at Dover Immigration Removal Centre (now closed) so I knew precisely what dismal places these Detention Centres are. And one of the great joys of my retirement has been my own musical education - I now sing in three choirs and play the recorder (not very well it has to be said!) in three groups - so I know from direct personal experience how music making lightens darkness and is the basis for lasting friendship. 

Members of TFN volunteer to sit on the selection committee and they usually get about 12 applications out of which they select four for the main event. John had written an excellent proposal and I was pretty confident MID would get through, but since the selection committee changes every round, there’s no predictability about these things! But we did - and the date was firmly placed in our diaries.

The event itself has a pattern to it. The four charities have stalls and present their wares - leaflets, videos, and in the case of MID, music. People mill about, drinking the odd glass of wine and munching the rather delicious canapés on offer. There are - to me - some familiar faces from previous events but mostly it is strangers - usually considerably younger than myself. This time I made my way to the MID stall where I had a long and interesting chat with MID’s Chair, Sue Lukes, listened to some really good music on MID’s music player, and purloined some MID CDs.

Eventually we all get ushered into a large room and the event itself begins. Usually one of the charities supported in the past does a brief update on their TFN funding. On this occasion I was delighted to hear from a great charity I had supported called CleanConscience. Then the four charities of the evening presented their case - some were slick and professional, others more informal - and the audience all had packs containing their original proposals. Often the charities bring along beneficiaries of their services and on this evening John was accompanied by one time detainee - Lamin - who told us how much music-making had meant to him when he had been detained. 

Lamin speaking at The Funding Network event in January

Lamin speaking at The Funding Network event in January

At this particular event the bidding process for all the projects took a little time to get going - perhaps it was that sense of post-Christmas down time that meant that generosity was in slightly short supply - but eventually it was clear that each of the projects had raised at least £6000. It was, as ever, a good evening - I learnt a great deal more about MID and about the other charities that had presented - and the warm glow of helping small charities that we would otherwise never have heard of was clear to see on everyone’s face. Once again, we all left smiling.





About the author: Clare Ungerson is Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, University of Southampton.  Her book, Four Thousand Lives: the rescue of German Jewish men to Britain, 1939, was published by the History Press in 2014. The book explores the remarkable and largely forgotten story of the rescue of 4000 Jewish men to a camp near Sandwich in East Kent in 1939. 

You can find out more about The Funding Network by going to:

http://www.thefundingnetwork.org.uk