Fundraising should be central to the thinking of every charity Trustee Board

Trustees and Fundraising

Guest Bloggers | 19 October 2016

It shouldn’t have to be said, but I’m afraid this is still viewed as a controversial statement.

Of course many boards will spend a lot of time thinking about, perhaps even worrying about, how to fund the charity’s activities. But I still think that fundraising is seen by too many as a necessary evil, something that is to be tolerated and not celebrated. We need to change this.                                                                                                                                  

As a Chief Executive I have never been shy of stating clearly to my own Board that without fundraising we couldn’t exist and therefore our fundraising should be central to our thoughts. Of course we want to deliver more for patients, but I guarantee our supporters of all kinds understand and accept that we need money to do our work and to reach more people every year. We shouldn’t be shy about this. We need to be clear that our fundraising ask is an important part of our communications challenge. I’m pleased that my Board recognises this. 

Sadly I think it is still the case that too many Boards don’t understand the need for successful integration between a charity’s core purpose and fundraising. There are still some who feel that information leaflets, campaign collateral, and even the charity website shouldn’t ask for money to support the cause.

But the most successful, enviable charities are the ones who appear to have cracked this challenge. The Macmillan behemoth makes us stand in awe of their ability to use their core purpose, nurses, to raise more money each year. Help for Heroes is a stunning success precisely because it is about giving money for the cause – the daily contact with the public is fundraising. I can guarantee their Boards “got” fundraising and got behind the need to integrate it into the charity clearly and with purpose. 

Boards need to understand that fundraising is about selling to the donor’s heart and not always asking for them to understand every aspect of their charities. They need to understand that this will mean simplicity not complexity. We need to understand the donor’s own needs and motivation for support not the charity’s history and activity in every detail.  

The bottom line is that charities do good in our society. Charity Boards also have the same wish to do good themselves. Often they have a strong and lasting connection to the cause. It must be recognised by them that fundraisers are also a force for good and should be celebrated not ignored.

Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive Officer, Beating Bowel Cancer

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