In early June 2016, Peridot Partners and the Social Change Agency brought together a group of professional fundraisers keen to explore the idea of becoming a charity trustee with the charities who are keen to improve fundraising skills and experience on their boards. Today sees the launch of our report, GetRaising! Increasing Fundraising Skills on Trustee Boards.
Having surveyed the professional fundraising market, we knew that there was a need for this event. Of the 250 people surveyed, 81% of them said that fundraising is an unrepresented skillset on their trustee board. Coupled with that, changes in fundraising legislation alongside the continuing challenging fundraising landscape for many charities means that they can no longer afford not to have professional fundraising representation at board level. Both parties seemed in agreement that the days of purely ‘traditional’ trustee skills of finance, legal and HR were numbered, with charities requiring more modern and diverse skills at board level including fundraising, digital and comms to survive in a changing world.
On a rainy summer’s day over 50 people attend our GetRaising! event, held at the premises of Baldeton Capital in King’s Cross. Teaming up with The Social Change Agency the Institute of Fundraising and Hubbub to explore fundraising and trusteeship in greater detail, and look to see if we could increase the skills, experience, and confidence of trustee boards by embedding fundraising expertise within them, in doing so developing the knowledge and furthering the careers of fundraising professionals.
We wanted to establish why there were not more professional fundraisers on trustee boards, and come up with some practical recommendations for charities as well as fundraisers in order to address any issues we discovered.
There were a number of key points to emerge. Firstly, a distinct feeling that, when recruiting, boards are still looking for more traditional skill sets of accounting and legal, rather than fundraising. An interesting point to unpick. If I were the chair of a trustee board looking to recruit someone to lead the finance committee, I’d seek a qualified accountant. So why, therefore, are so many chairs comfortable with having non-fundraising professionals leading the income generation committee? Stranger still for organisations with little statutory income, reliant on voluntary income to deliver their work. Surely one should expect a more measured approach? We’d urge a skills audit to be undertaken, but also for boards to acknowledge the role fundraising plays in their charity, especially in contributing more than just money.
Another issue is one of time commitment. This is not unique to fundraisers. There is a perception that being a trustee will take up working hours, and fundraisers will not be given the time off work to attend board meetings. Charities need to think creatively about this, with employers realising the value a non-exec role can have on the development of their staff, as well as the networks they have access to. In the same breath, boards can give more volunteering options as part of, say, their fundraising sub-committee as opposed to the increased commitment of a full trustee role.
The good news is, as the event clearly demonstrated, that these barriers are not insurmountable. GetRaising! enabled us to develop a range of recommendations for organisations, charities and individuals to create change.
The report is free for all as Peridot Partners are committed to improving fundraising and governance as well as striving to bring new and exciting fundraising talent into the charity sector at board level.
For the full list of recommendations please download the full report HERE.