November 5, 2015
The current climate of concern around fundraising presents fundraisers with a unique opportunity to work more closely with their trustees. So often in the past I have heard fundraisers complain that trustees are not interested in fundraising, don’t understand it, or do not give themselves. Now is your chance to change that.
Trustees will be aware of the media coverage and concerns around fundraising and will be asking questions. This is good news! They are interested! You have the opportunity to educate them as to what you do, how you do it, and what more you could and should do.
This week is #trusteesweek. What better time to ensure that your trustees are aware of their fundraising responsibilities? The recent review of fundraising regulation led by Sir Stuart Etherington provides a useful starting point.
The review states that “Charity trustees and CEOs should have a strong governance framework in place so that they have strategic oversight of all fundraising undertaken on their behalf directly with the public or by third party agencies.”
The review supports the amendment to the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill, which requires trustees to make a statement in their Annual Report each year setting out their approach to fundraising. This is an important opportunity for fundraisers to share their strategy with trustees, create a statement together, and work as partners in delivery of the fundraising plans.
The review also offers helpful recommendations as to how trustees should operate with regards to fundraising. All of these recommendations will help us as fundraisers. There are four areas of focus:
- Regular review
The review states that trustees should “regularly review their charity’s fundraising processes and compliance with the Code of Fundraising Practice, and not simply whether targets have been met.” From a fundraiser’s perspective, this is an opportunity to talk about long-term relationship building and report against more sophisticated measures than simply annual targets, such as donor retention, increasing gift sizes, stewardship, etc.
- A seat at the table
Fundraisers should never complain again about not being invited to meetings. The review recommends that trustees “Ensure regular attendance of senior fundraising staff at their meetings.” Put fundraising on the agenda today and take your seat.
- Risk management
I am a big fan of ensuring that fundraising is on the risk register. This helps organisations to be clear about risks attached to fundraising and to ensure the right governance approach is in place. It pushes fundraising right up the agenda alongside financial and other risks. The review is clear on this topic: trustees should “include fundraising activity on the risk register and manage it accordingly.”
- Fundraising compliance
The review reminds trustees of their role in ensuring compliance to relevant codes of practice and laws which relate to fundraising, such as the law on consumer consent, and states that trustees should make sure they “read and are aware of the Charity Commission’s guidance on ‘Charities and Fundraising’ (CC20), and carefully follow its guidelines when making decisions about fundraising.” As fundraisers, it is our job to enable trustees to undertake these governance functions effectively by providing clear and robust information. In return, this will help us make the case for investment in systems and processes, good reporting, and data management – all areas which are often underinvested in many charities.
#proudfundraisers seize this moment and write an action plan for ensuring you are supporting your trustees to understand and fulfill their roles with regards to fundraising. This could be the beginning of a strong and positive partnership. Celebrate #trusteesweek by acting today!
-Susie Hills, Managing Director