Myth Busting! Trustees and what it means to be ‘involved in fundraising’

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I recently hosted a fundraising workshop with my Trustees which covered a variety of fundraising related discussions. One of the most important things to remember when you want your Trustees to be involved in fundraising is to BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU EXPECT! Once they know what you are expecting of them, they will be much more inclined to get involved!

The three most common reasons trustees will cite for their lack of involvement in the fundraising process are:

  1. We don’t feel comfortable asking for money
  2. We don’t have any money to give
  3. We volunteer our time and expertise and that’s enough

With the influence of Carlos Mirander (@IG_Advisors) I came up with these myth-busting responses! 

  1. We don’t feel comfortable asking for money

THAT is why you have professional fundraisers on your staff. It is not the job of Trustees to ask for money unless they WANT to. If they don’t want to, that is fine, there are plenty of other ways to get involved in fundraising that don’t involve an ask. For example;

  • calling a major donor to say thank you for a gift
  • being an ambassador for fundraising and all the good it does for Afasic
  • signing thank you letters to donors
  • attending a major donor meeting with a fundraiser to answer questions about the future of the organisation
  1. We don’t have any money to give

It is true that not everyone has the capacity to make a philanthropic donation and that’s ok – wealth is not a prerequisite for trusteeship. However, if trustees can financially support the organisation they lead at any level, either because they can personally donate or encourage others to give, they should. Leading by example is an incredible tool when it comes to fundraising and being able to state that X Campaign is supported by 100% of the board on a financial level is a real selling point for donors. It shows that they truly believe in the outcome of that campaign and the work of the organisation.

  1. We volunteer our time and expertise and that’s enough

Time and expertise are essential and the work of the Trustees is greatly appreciated. However, today’s funding climate is radically competitive. If we are not pro-actively using all of our assets, including our trustees, for business development purposes and fundraising then we are missing a trick – possibly at the expense of our programmes, staff, and beneficiaries. Unfortunately, the fundraising team can’t do everything. Fundraising has to be a group effort. That being said, any trustee involvement in fundraising will always be strategic, targeted, and heavily supported by the fundraising team – you will never be alone and you will always be given clear guidance. Going forward, it would be fantastic to get a fundraiser on the board and have fundraising added into the remit of our Trustees roles.

Have you got any advice on getting Trustees better involved in fundraising? If so, please share below!


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