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Barriers to increasing fundraising governance skills on charity boards revealed

Barriers to increasing fundraising governance skills on charity boards revealed

A joint report into fundraisers and trusteeship by the Social Change Agency with the Institute of Fundraising, Peridot Partners and Hubbub has revealed the key barriers to increasing fundraising governance skills on charity boards.

An initial survey by the IoF among fundraisers showed that over 90% believe having a fundraiser on their board of trustees would be helpful in their day job, with 78% saying that the idea of being a trustee appealed to them. However, it also revealed that 81% felt that fundraising skills and experience were under-represented on the boards and charities they had worked on.

A subsequent GetRaising! event to find out why more fundraisers do not become trustees, brought together fundraisers, board members, Chairs, and CEOs and used open space methodology to explore the question “How can we increase fundraising governance skills and leadership in trustee boards?”.

The results, shared in the resulting report GetRaising! Increasing Fundraising Skills on Trustee Boards, reveal the top 7 barriers to increasing fundraising governance skills on charity boards.

  1. Fundraisers feel that they are not the ‘right fit’ for charity boards, so are put off from applying.
  2. The perception of the time needed to be an effective trustee. Many thought the nature of the role unsuitable for a working person. Fundraisers felt they would be unable to secure the time off work, or fit the role in with their other commitments if they were not supported to take on trustee roles by their employers.
  3. Many fundraisers do not know where or how to look for trustee roles.
  4. When recruiting, it was felt that boards look for more traditional skills such as accountancy or legal experience, and do not consider fundraising skills to be as relevant.
  5. Where there are fundraisers on boards, like other specialist people, fundraiser-trustees feel pigeonholed and limited to operational considerations that may restrict their contribution, or leave them feeling exploited.
  6. The opposite problem can also occur, where boards misunderstand how professional fundraising should fit into wider organisational strategy. This can result in fundraising governance being taken off the board agenda altogether, reducing the effectiveness of any fundraiser-trustees or board-wide responsibility of fundraising.
  7. There are both real and perceived conflicts of interest when it comes to opening up contacts and networks for fundraising. Having fundraisers on boards may only serve to enable cannibalisation of contacts and resources.

The report makes 18 recommendations for increasing fundraising governance on charity boards, including: ensuring that boards are clear on what they want from a fundraising focused trustee and make this part of any trustee recruitment strategy, ensuring that boards and chairs develop a greater awareness of the full range of benefits of having fundraisers as trustees, ensuring that charities consider how they can support their staff to become trustees, and the sector doing more to promote the benefits of fundraiser-trustees.

The full report can be downloaded here:

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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