Fundraising: Dragons' Den-type philanthropy network grows

An informal philanthropic organisation that invites charities to pitch their projects in the style of TV show Dragons' Den is to expand.

The Funding Network - a group of donors who invite those behind innovative charitable projects to make presentations at regular meetings - is setting up a Leeds branch, adding to the network's UK branches in London, Bristol and Scotland.

"A London member lives in Leeds, has good contacts and knows there is enough interest there," said Jenny Sheridan, the network's director.

The new branch, which will hear pitches from local charities next month, comes as the network passed the £1m mark in charitable donations since its launch in 2002.

The network has funded projects as diverse as an Indian women's credit scheme and a UK-based project to teach music skills to prisoners. However, charities hoping to pitch could find themselves rejected because the network invites pitches only from projects that have been referred by its members, often those with which they have personal links.

"Members put forward projects to our selection committee, and about half of those are invited to pitch," said Sheridan.

She added that charities that approach the network would have details of their projects placed on members' email bulletins.

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