Accountability is the hot topic on everyone's lips at the moment. This presents a real opportunity for charities to talk to trustees about all the work they do, and to get individuals at all levels – including trustees, chief executives, fundraising teams, volunteers and suppliers – behind a charity's mission.
With recent changes to fundraising regulations and new guidance from the Charity Commission about trustee duties, it's vital that trustees have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to accountability.
To ensure they are compliant with the new regulations, charity boards must recognise the importance of effective leadership and have an understanding of how an organisation fundraises.
At HOME, we feel that strong leadership and training is fundamental to our performance and ability to consistently recruit good quality donors.
But not every trustee will come from a fundraising background. So how do we ensure they understand the link between strong leadership, engagement and cultivating supporters?
Trustees’ Week (7-13 November 2016) – an annual event showcasing the excellent work the one million-plus trustees across the UK do on a daily basis – creates an open forum for charities to talk about the importance of strong leadership and fundraising.
It's fundamental at board level for trustees to be committed to a charity's fundraising approach, as this will help them to drive the day-to-day work. Does your fundraising strategy have the support and buy-in of the trustees and senior executive team? This is a chance for fundraising teams to talk to trustees about how they go about raising money. What methods they use, why and who does it.
Perhaps a trustee might come along and shadow one of your fundraisers for the day to learn more about what you do, speak at a fundraising event or put in a call to one of his or her contacts on your behalf.
And, if you work with any third party suppliers, it is important that your tru stees understand why and have confidence in the commitment from that third party and their ability to meet the needs of the organisation. They should ask about the guiding principles that will govern and determine the nature and success of the working relationship with the supplier.
Also is there enough understanding around the investment (time, resources and people) required from the organisation to support a third party to fulfil their objectives?
My colleague Sarah Carter, Head of Leadership, recently wrote about the importance of asking the right questions, and that when we do, it can be transformational. Trustees are ideally placed to create the space for people to ask questions and bridge gaps in knowledge, breaking down silos and getting everyone working together.
Putting it into practice
Here at HOME, we are doing exactly that, inviting senior executives and trustees to come and find out more about what we do and the campaigns we deliver.
We work with some amazing and inspirational charities and we’ve been delighted that so many individuals have taken time out of their busy schedules to visit us, see what we do and how we help them extend their reach. Members of their compliance departments regularly visit too.
Getting the conversation started
We all know the importance of openness and honesty, but if we are to get the conversation started, we need to make sure we open the door and invite people in.
People should be encouraged to ask questions and none more so than trustees; those with legal responsibility for a charity. So – as I recently said – it’s time to lower the drawbridge. We all need to do what we can to build understanding of fundraising.
Let’s all use this year’s Trustees’ Week to open the door even further!
For more guidance on what trustees and charities need to consider when fundraising from the public, read the Charity Commission's Charity fundraising: a guide to trustee duties (CC20).