One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is: should Trustees become involved in fundraising?
Many Trustees have said that they exist to give wise advice to their charity’s executive team, attend meetings and events – but they consider doing anything active like fundraising, or in some cases even giving to their charity (“I give my time”), is not what they signed up for.
But is this realistic in the second decade of the 21st Century?
Most charities – especially the small ones Minerva works with – are feeling the financial pinch, now that the heady days of Blair statutory support for charities are long gone and almost forgotten. Few small charities these days can afford large salaried fundraising teams – or, indeed, salaried fundraising teams at all. Most of the ones Minerva supports have no paid fundraisers, and exist on the hard work of volunteers backed by our consultancy.
So what are the solutions?
Step forward Trustees! Many Trustees have excellent business connections, and know individual philanthropists and trustees of grant-making trusts. Small charities in particular find it difficult to make fundraising inroads into the business sector; and all would benefit from the boost that personal connections with trustees give to a trust grant application.
Staff and volunteers involved in fundraising don’t want Trustees to do their job. But the contacts which trustees have act as a catalyst to successful fundraising. Many fundraisers and volunteers have said to me: “If only I could get in front of the boards/owner of ABC Limited, I’d be able to sell our message – but the calls I make and the e-mails I send are just ignored.”
Trustees can and should provide this vital link by using their personal contacts and knowledge to help their paid or volunteer fundraisers sell their charity’s message and so raise vital funds.
Minerva recommends that small charities recruit at least one trustee with an interest in fundraising, so that he/she can persuade their colleagues on the Board to take a pro-active stance on fundraising and help consultants and paid and volunteer fundraisers achieve the targets required.
This isn’t rocket science – and it works!