Trustees and Fundraising: Can You Use the Force of CC20?

August 3, 2016

A guest post from Richard Sved looks at the CC20 guidance for trustees on fundraising from the Charity Commission:

So it turns out that, disappointingly, CC20 isn’t a new Star Wars character for the next film. Not yet, anyway.

No, it’s actually an updated guide to trustee duties relating to fundraising, published by the Charity Commission in June 2016. But what do they advise? Is there anything new in it? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

I hope you would agree that charity trustees need to play a crucial role in shaping their organisation’s approach to fundraising, as well as overseeing how it is carried out, and that this approach is reflective of the charity’s values. In fact, operating effective control over fundraising isn’t a new duty, but these guidelines do help to clarify things.

CC20 helpfully sets out six principles (there’s also a cut out and keep poster illustrating these headings) to help trustees take control of their charity’s fundraising, as follows:

  1. Planning effectively – This is about setting and then overseeing your organisation’s overall approach to fundraising. Are you thinking about risks and organisational values and how they relate to fundraising? How do you set income needs and expectations?
  2. Supervising your fundraisers – What systems do you have in place to oversee fundraising? Do those carrying out fundraising, either internally or externally, know what’s expected of them? Is it in the charity’s best interests?
  3. Protecting your charity’s reputation, money, and other assets – Is your organisation managing its resources well? What is the impact of your fundraising on donors, supporters, and the public? Have you taken steps to reduce risk of loss or fraud?
  4. Identifying and ensuring compliance with fundraising laws and/or regulations – It’s your duty to ensure that your charity can access the right information and advice so that its fundraising complies with all relevant legal rules.
  5. Identifying and following recognised fundraising standards – Check out the Code of Fundraising Practice. Does your organisation fully comply with the Code?
  6. Being open and accountable – Does your charity comply with statutory accounting and reporting requirements on fundraising? Can you explain your fundraising to members of the public and your donors and supporters?

I think it’s fair to say that the guide has had a mixed response from the sector. The Institute of Fundraising and NCVO were both positive about it, while the Charity Finance Group expressed concerns that it focused too strongly on the costs of fundraising and overheads.

And the jury is still out on whether the duties might deter people from joining boards. It’s a difficult balancing act to strike, because the role of the trustee is both part-time and voluntary. Can the board, even so, be expected to be fully on top of all of these duties sufficiently to govern effectively, and yet not micro-manage their fundraising staff?

I would say in response that charity governance is an art not a science, and we mustn’t see it as black and white. Some elements of a trustee’s role, such as this one, are deadly serious.

But the bottom line is that we are all serving to create something beautiful, to enable our organisations to create change. In order for us to do so, the role of the trustee is vital. As is the role of the fundraiser.

This guidance should serve to help trustees and fundraisers alike to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities.  This should mean that we can operate as effectively as possible to maximise our impact. That can only be a good thing.

Use the force.

– Richard Sved, Director of 3rd Sector Mission Control

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