What is the role of the board in fundraising?

No one is suggesting that English and Welsh boards should follow the American model of ‘give, get or get off’, however the following suggests good practice with regards to fundraising:

  • Have a strategy – the board needs to ensure that there is a strategy, with identification of what funds are needed for and who should be asked to supply them. Few funders will nowadays supply unrestricted funds for core costs so clear projects need to be identified and management costs written in (though the nirvana of much fundraising activity is to increase the amount of unrestricted income, from regular donors, members, ‘commercial’ and partnership income etc.)

  • Be realistic about targets – avoid any temptation to make the deficit between known income and expenditure the fundraising target! This will not help accurate budgeting and achievement of a realistic target is good sense and motivates those responsible to do even better next time.

  • Ensure there is sufficient administrative back-up – donors must be thanked and kept informed of the company’s events and of how their contribution is helping. Nothing is more off-putting to a donor or sponsor than hearing nothing until another request for money.

  • Be aware of conflicts of interest with other board memberships – many board members sit on several boards and this can pose problems of loyalty where fundraising is concerned. This is not the case in some other countries. For example, in Australia, people generally only sit on one board at a time.

  • Use the annual report to make fundraising decisions transparent.

  • Consider whether the voluntary Code of Fundraising Practice should be adopted, especially if door to door or other large scale public campaigns are under consideration.

  • If a fundraising appeal fails, the board may have power to apply the proceeds to a different charitable purpose, once new legislation passed in 2022 is brought into force.

Changes have been made to the Code of Fundraising Practice (from October 2019) to make it easier for fundraisers, charities and third-party organisations to understand the standards expected of them when fundraising. It is also designed to be easier for the public to use. Changes to the Code include:

- Consolidation of the current Code, rule books (on street, door-to-door and private site fundraising) and legal appendices so that the standards are set out in a single Code.
- Clearer navigation. The standards have been restructured in three parts, enabling users to clearly identify the standards that apply to the type of fundraising they do.
- Clarification of where there are differences in law in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
- Transparent, jargon-free language. The new Code has been independently reviewed by the Plain English campaign, which gave it a Crystal Mark standard.

For further information see

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