We are delighted to announce Iain McAndrew as our Future Shocker in GetRaising! – our second event on beyond governance series on the 7th of June. Although he is going to reveal all at our seminal fundraising and governance collaborative event, below Iain tells us why he is taking part, and why we need a new way of looking at governance and fundraising…..
How many fundraisers reading this post have expressed with frustration a fervent wish that their boards of trustees better understood fundraising? How many trustees also wished they too could command a greater understanding of fundraising thus having a greater confidence in the decisions they were being asked to make – especially around those all so important moments when essential investment is requested.
In a recent blog I observed that there needs to be a new conversation between fundraisers, their management teams, their CEO’s and, most importantly, between fundraisers and Trustees. In challenging times for the sector, it is crucial that boards of trustees fully understand fundraising. There are of course the various techniques which may or could be deployed in raising funds. However, this needs to run much deeper. There needs to be a full understanding of the internal interdependencies and external drivers all of which need to define fundraising success.
Fundraising isn’t and can’t be solely left to fundraisers. Organisational culture and leadership must provide support if great fundraising is to take place. And, leadership, in supporting fundraising, starts with you if you are reading this as a charity trustee. I’ve previously stated that trustees ‘you should love your fundraisers, listen to their expertise and recruit professional fundraisers onto your boards’. Fundraising is becoming ever-more challenging. Yet, boards often lack that key skill set. More surprisingly, only a small percentage of UK fundraisers are charity trustees.
Are you fit for purpose?
Regulation is driving a new conversation between charities and their supporters. Boards need to adapt as they held ever-more accountable for their organisations fundraising practice. Now is the time to take proactive steps to address this key challenge. If you are a trustee, how ready and fit for purpose are you to take on this increased level of accountability? And, that, I believe, will only be possible if boards act to ensure they possess the right expertise on which to draw in order to provide an effective level of challenge and support to their fundraising teams if organisational fundraising ambitions are to be realised.
Boards need to be actively recruiting more professional fundraisers to serve on charity trustee boards. The advantages are of mutual benefit. Boards, you get access to professional experience on which you can draw. Professional fundraisers, you get an ambassador on the board, able to work to inform the wider board on the strategic issues and intricacies facing fundraising. Collectively, a high-value conversation is created that will improve your fundraising.
I was privileged to be invited in 2013 to join the board of ADD International (Action on Disability in Development) www.add.org.uk, taking over the fundraising sub-committee chair. Without a doubt, I have enjoyed the experience, benefited hugely from the considerable international expertise of my fellow board members and contributed alongside my experience as a professional fundraiser, my own personal experience as someone living with a disability, into all aspects of ADD’s strategic agenda. Although I recognise I still have much to learn, I hope I provided the right level of challenge and support to ADD’s Fundraising Director, Clare McEwan. Although she did comment ‘Iain is always so encouraging whilst encouraging us to reach further’.
Yet, is simply appointing a professional fundraiser to the board enough? I would argue it is not.
How the board interacts with its executive is key. Boards must make time for strategic conversation, challenge when required and be willing to provide equal levels of support. Quite simply it needs to be a team effort and this does not undermine the role of effective governance; quite the opposite.
Why are we failing the sector?
So, with many challenges facing the sector and an uncertain future ahead, why are more boards not appointing that professional fundraising experience? And why aren’t, as fundraisers, more of us stepping forward? What if this continues and we do not get more professional fundraisers onto trustee boards? What are the consequences? And, what does the future look like for charities without better fundraising understanding?
So you are invited to join us…..
Such questions are what GetRaising! is all about. I’m delighted to be part of GetRaising! an event being hosted by Peridot Partners, the Institute of Fundraising, the Social Change Agency and Hubbub, which aims to explore this very challenge and how as a sector we might address this. It also aims to encourage more professional fundraisers to step forward and be willing to join boards and, for trustee boards to actively seek to appoint professional fundraising experience to their boards. Please do come along and join the conversation. Change doesn’t happen unless you make it.
I hope to see you there.
Iain McAndrew is an instigator and change catalyst who challenges organizations to think big and strategically to transform their fundraising and the impact they make. He is also a trustee at AddAction and former Director of Engagement and Income Generation at Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
GetRaising! is a collaborative event on fundraising and governance betweenPeridot Partners, The Social Change Agency, The Institute of Fundraising andHubbub. If you would like some more information about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow any updates on twitter, using #getraising!