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Trustees! Don’t Be Afraid! Face Your Fundraising Fears

Trustees! Don’t be afraid! Face your Fundraising Fears

Nova Fundraising’s Emma-Louise Singh and Emma Low reflect on the role that Trustees can play to ensure that their fundraising shines brightly!

It’s no secret that Emma-Louise Singh and Emma Low LOVE fundraising. Yes, we are self -confessed Fundraising Geeks! We lap up the courses, read the books, join the committees, wear the T-shirts (or occasionally even the fancy dress) and spend much of our time sharing our love of excellent fundraising with fundraisers, charity CEO’s and Trustees. And, as Trustees ourselves, we know what a vital role Trustees play in ensuring that fundraising can not only succeed, but flourish!

So what is a Trustee’s Role when it comes to fundraising?

Well quite key really. Trustees are ultimately responsible for fundraising! Whilst that doesn’t mean that Trustees need to wade into  the operational day-to-day running of fundraising , it does mean that Trustees are responsible for ensuring compliance to the legal and reporting requirements, such as Section 13 of the Charities Act 2016.

But surely fundraising success is down to the fundraisers?

Not solely! Research on what makes truly excellent fundraising shows us that there is much more to fundraising than running a great event or filling out grant applications… you need great systems, a strong foundation of fundraising commitment backing you, great stewardship and care-taking of donor’s money and people to cultivate a fundraising environment that will support excellent fundraising.

OK, so what can Trustees do (bearing in mind they volunteer their time!)

Don’t worry we’re not saying that Trustees necessarily need to be at the coalface of fundraising, running events, or ‘shaking the metaphorical bucket’ (unless of course you want to!) But there are plenty of ways in which Trustees can ensure that they play a role in creating a fundraising environment that will help your organisation shine brightly:

  1. Trustee Inductions – right from the outset include fundraising and the responsibilities that Trustees have with regards to fundraising. Share the organisation’s income history and discuss its fundraising stakeholders. This is a great way to plant the fundraising seed at the core of your organisation and its governance.
  2. Find a Fundraising ‘Champion’. Have a Trustee whose role is to be the go-to for the fundraising plan.. This doesn’t mean they need to be a fundraising expert (although that would be amazing) but it does mean they champion fundraising activities, might offer a catch up for the team or regularly report back to the board on fundraising activities, wins and challenges. They can be your advocates at Trustee meetings or with staff. You could consider recruiting a Trustee for this role and for a bonus why not see if you can recruit a Trustee who is a Fundraiser.
  3. Who are your askers? Do you have Trustees who are happy to meet key donors with you or who can connect you with possible donors? Many Trustees are fearful of this role – but with the right messages, FAQs, belief in the charity and its solutions to meet the need – it can be easier than they think.
  4. Trustees should learn more about Fundraising. This doesn’t necessarily mean doing a course in Fundraising! But having a basic understanding of what fundraising is and how it is relevant within your organisation, along with realistic expectations on what fundraising in your organisation can achieve can really help set fundraising up for success
  5. Banish those negative associations of fundraising! As hands-on fundraisers ourselves, as well as fundraising consultants who do a lot of work with Trustees, we have heard it all, from: “Fundraising being a necessary evil”, to “We tried X Fundraising activity and it was a failure as didn’t bring in £X” and everything in between. We also appreciate that Trustees have a big job and lots of responsibility and only want their organisations to flourish. So we frequently have to ask where do these phrases and feelings come from? More often, than not, they are rooted in fear. Fear of spending charity resource with not enough return, fear of not doing a good enough job, fear of making the wrong decision. But these preconceptions of fundraising, really can do more harm than good. So when you hear a negative response to fundraising, try to get to the core of where that comes from – why for example didn’t that fundraising activity raise the £X you thought it would – was because you didn’t have a strong enough ask? What can you learn from it to improve? Why is fundraising a necessary evil – is it because you feel guilty asking? Why do you feel guilty? Keep asking that why until you hit the root of the issues – you could end up coming away with some very interesting insights.


So – Nova Fundraising’s ultimate message to Trustees is don’t be afraid of fundraising! Skill yourself up. Ask lots of questions. Believe in your cause. Equip yourself with all the facts about your mission, your goals, your costs and get out there and ask! Or at the very least, support your fundraisers, give them your confidence and trust them to do a great job.

Find out more about how Nova Fundraising can work with your Trustees 

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