Engaging trustees with fundraising

Footprint of silhouettes

Dominic Will | 17 November 2017

This #TrusteesWeek, HOME Fundraising’s Joint Managing Director and Institute of Fundraising Trustee, Dominic Will, highlights the importance of engaging trustees more closely with fundraising.

It’s not easy being a trustee. For most of us, it’s a voluntary position, which means that we inevitably work with those organisations that we feel really passionate about and connected to. That means commitment is high, but at times it can be incredibly difficult to find as much time as you’d hope to put into the role, particularly if juggling the position with a full-time job, family life and other commitments. 

And yet, being a trustee is a vitally important role; one that comes with both ethical and financial responsibilities. As the Charity Commission states in its guide to trustee duties, those responsibilities include: “setting their charity’s approach to raising funds, making sure that it is followed in practice and reflects their charity’s values.”

Trustees have to take this side of things seriously. But, in my experience, sitting in a board room and reading strategic documents is rarely going to give trustees a true flavour of all the issues they need to consider in order to make the best decisions for their charity.

So, what can fundraising organisations do to help trustees understand more about their organisation’s income generation strategies and to contribute in an informed way at a strategic level?

For me, as both an Institute of Fundraising trustee and a fundraising agency director, it’s a no-brainer. We have to throw open our doors and encourage trustees to talk to us, meet with us, ask questions and - in an ideal world – to shadow our fundraisers as they engage with the public and talk about the vital work of Britain’s charities. Just in the same way that trustees might visit the charity’s services and beneficiaries, we need to enable trustees to have the same insight into our fundraising. What better way for trustees to gain a solid understanding of how fundraising works than by joining us at the coal face?

Certainly, over the past couple of years here at HOME, we’ve seen an increase in engagement and growing interest in fundraising from charity directors and at board level. This has ranged from the Chair of one national charity coming out on site with us to see the public’s response to her campaign to our attendance at charity board meetings. In each case, it’s been a hugely valuable experience for each party; giving trustees a deeper understanding of door-to-door fundraising, how the organisation works and to see the ethos and purpose of the company reflected in the work, first hand.

The truth is that we don’t see enough of charity trustees as we’d like to and we must continue to encourage engagement and their participation. As suppliers to the sector, we have to ensure that trustees know our doors are open, that we welcome their questions, interest and scrutiny alike.


Dominic WillDominic Will, IoF Trustee and joint Managing Director of HOME Fundraising

Looking to engage your trustees with fundraising? Take a look at the IoF's Trustees and Fundraising guidance


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