IoF launches initiative to get more fundraisers on trustee boards

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IoF launches initiative to get more fundraisers on trustee boards

The Institute of Fundraising is set to launch an initiative with Trustees Unlimited which will aim to get more fundraisers onto charitable trustee boards in the UK.

Adam Bryan, director of partnerships at the IoF said the “initiative” would aim to address some of the fundraising skills shortages on trustee boards in the UK exposed in the Charity Commission’s recent report.

Speaking on a panel at an IoF event for Trustees’ Week in London yesterday morning, Ian Joseph, chief executive of Trustees Unlimited, said there was currently a “supply issue” in finding trustees with practical fundraising experience, and said he and his organisation hoped its partnership with the IoF would develop a “talent pool that we can take to market” to address the issue.

A spokeswoman for the IoF said the Institute would likely formally announce the partnership “early next week”.

Trusteeships ‘cost-effective way of developing’ staff

Meredith Niles, director of fundraising and engagement at Marie Curie, who was also speaking on the panel, said that “giving people time off to pursue trusteeships” was the most “cost-effective way” of developing staff in an industry constrained by often relatively small budgets.

“It’s been a huge benefit to me, and it’s something that I really encourage the mid-level fundraisers in my team to do when they’re looking for development opportunities," she said.

“Unfortunately in a resource-constrained sector there’s not a lot of formal training and I think giving some time off for people to pursue trusteeships is one of the most cost-effective ways to offer professional development to our staff. Which in itself is a way of retaining people.

“I would love to see us develop to a place where there is a similar norm to having a professional fundraiser on the board, if you’re going to engage in public fundraising, in the same way that no major board would not have a lawyer or accountant on their board.

“There’s just that expectation that that professional expertise needs to be represented around the table and I think we ought to work together as a sector to get to a place where fundraising expertise is similarly regarded.”

Fundraisers on trustee boards ‘win-win-win’ situation

Hannah-Polly Williams, head of philanthropy and partnerships at the International Rescue Committee, said it still “baffles” her that the charity sector is still debating whether or not to have fundraisers on trustee boards, and said it should be seen as a “win-win-win” situation.

“There are three key reasons why I think it’s a win-win-win situation,” said Williams. “First is that it’s great for the organisation to have that fundraising expertise. Then there’s the benefit to the individual of being able to empathise with their trustees back in their own organisation and thirdly the benefit to the organisation that you’re working for. It enables you to broaden your skillset, have a better understanding of governance and broaden the focus areas that a fundraiser has.”

She said that “it seems totally insane that when bringing in income is such a key part” of what many charities do, this was still a topic of conversation. 

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