Charity Support, Advice, Impact Measurement, Philanthropy Impact – NPC

The fundraising trustee

By Anne Lorenz 21 May 2013 3 minute read

Yesterday, Sally spoke about how the Money for Good UK research can be used to help charities fundraise more effectively. In light of ongoing budget cuts and falling  donations, charities are having to come up with innovative and entrepreneurial ways to diversify and develop new income streams. Fundraising has become more important than ever, but with fewer pools of money available, fundraising concepts will need to channel that money more effectively.

Broadly-speaking, the role of a Board of Trustees is to monitor a charity’s work, progress and achievements, to oversee its finances and to keep it all legal. But charity trustees can be an enormous support in fundraising too,  particularly for smaller charities with few or sometimes no permanent staff, or those without a fundraising manager.

First of all, staff should think about involving their trustees in the fundraising strategy right from the start. Being clear about the approach and goals a charity wants to pursue and having fundraising targets aligned with fundraising methods is essential. At this point, trustees can input ideas and review fundraising plans with a critical eye and a fresh perspective. Beyond this stage, trustees’ involvement in fundraising can take on a variety of different forms. To name just a few: acting as door openers to prospective supporters; inviting personal contacts to, attending or even speaking at fundraising events; helping to develop relationships with existing donors/grant-makers. Trustees are passionate about the work of “their” charity and are therefore persuasive and authentic. And, of course, supporting the organisation by donating to the cause themselves is extremely valuable, always demonstrating commitment no matter how much is given.

Money for Good UK shows that impact matters: in a survey of UK donors, more than a half of mainstream donors and about two thirds of individual high-income donors were very keen to know how their donation is being spent. Indeed, the report reveals that donors would give £665m more if charities were better at communicating their results—a potentially huge pot of money. In particular, the “loyal supporter”, “engaged champion” and the “thoughtful philanthropist” are likely to respond well to a long-term, impact-driven fundraising strategy. A possible idea might be to find out what type of donor your trustees are to successfully match them to potential new individual donors.

But before trustees can contribute to any of the tasks outlined above, they must be able to communicate the results of the charity’s work, so that a third party understands the difference it makes and feels motivated to donate to the cause. Not all (and often none) of a charity’s trustees are experienced or professional fundraisers. It is therefore up to the staff to arm the trustees with any information they might need when getting involved in fundraising activities. And this works in the other direction too: it’s just as important that your trustee debriefs fundraisers on what they know about the donor and their interests—and that the two sides links up.

Trustees are vital to any organisation, and the more engaged they are in your fundraising, the better.

NPC will be debating how to make this relationship as proactive as possible in an upcoming seminar for charity trustees in cooperation with the Clothworkers’ Company—Fundraising: what trustees need to know, Monday 3 June—so please come along for what promises to be an interesting discussion.