CDE project 15 appen­dix 3

Research under­tak­en as part of this review by Col­in Kemp. The snip­pets below are based on a series of con­ver­sa­tions with trustees, CEOs, fundrais­ers and oth­ers close to the sector:

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
May 28, 2017

Key headlines:

  • Support and training for trustees still seems to be fairly ad-hoc. The biggest source of training for trustees was meeting staff and volunteers (71%) and seeing the work (60%).
  • 44% of trustees agreed the level of training and support for trustees was sufficient (while 26% disagreed).
  • Equally, less than 10% agreed that trustees needed ‘to step up and do more to protect the sector’, or that better governance would have prevented some of the negative media stories in recent years.
  • Despite this there is a strong appetite for better training for trustees, chairs and honorary officers, on-line training and a proper trustee handbook – all of which of which were thought to be useful by over 70% of respondents. Conversely, only 17% of trustees agreed that paying trustees would improve governance, while 12% agreed that reducing the size of the board would help.

Charity 1. Age-related, medium:

Considering an informal fundraising governance group – critical friend model (a useful definition is provided here, with attribution: “A critical friend is seen as an external person ‘who understands and is sympathetic to the purpose of the [charity], knows its circumstances very well, is skilled in offering a second opinion about an issue. Critical Friends are seemingly effortlessly skilled at asking questions. They bring to that questioning task a mastery of inflection and timing, so that questions are never damaging”) to ensure the maintenance of the executive/governance split. Focus will be on values, ambition and leadership, but will also encourage trustees to become more involved in fundraising – opening doors, wallets and minds.

Charity 2. International development, small:

The Chair was an experienced fundraiser. Determining a planning framework ensured there was space for donor interest to be reflected in that which was funded to allow space for new initiatives – and recognition that failure is part of the learning process, as well as recognising that saving every penny is false economy. This ensured that the Board provided clear steer on values and positioning.

Charity 3. Medical, medium:

get the right policies in place, including a scheme for delegation. Recognise that Boards will need more than one exposure to information about the new environment for it to click. Ensure open conversation about how the Board wants to monitor compliance – don’t evade the discussion.

Charity 4. Youth volunteering, small:

concerns how recommendations will apply in Scotland. Has found a small board is more effective than is a larger one. Considers the charity will need more guidance on volunteer fundraising

Charity 5. International development, small:

While this charity was about to conduct a Board skills audit, fundraising changes were not on their radar at all. The current model is very low risk, but the charity does need to broaden the ways in which it fundraises to achieve its mission. The charity found a discussion about success criteria very helpful as it considers what to include in a new KPI dashboard for regular Board reviews.

Charity 6. International development, large:

has established a fundraising oversight committee consisting of board members and external experts. Terms of reference discussion was key – early drafts could have made the group part of FR SMT. It recruited fundraising experts to the Board and are establishing a compliance team. Compliance remains an operational responsibility, but the head of compliance will usually attend the oversight committee meetings. This group will be the monitoring point for information about compliance, vulnerable people, supplier management, and complaints and discussions about potential, higher risk activity. It will be the fast track to the board for problems, allowing the Board to focus on higher level issues, including the FR strategy sign off. This charity is putting considerable effort into developing non-financial KPIs to help the Board monitor fundraising health.

FR director, consultant, trustee –

reserves issues that impact longer term planning – this needs to be explored by Boards if their charities are to be able to plan effectively and deliver on such plans. Recommends that Boards make use of longer meetings / away days to explore matters in more depth and to provide training space.

Board effectiveness and training organisation –

Despite having some great governance training, fundraising was virtually absent from the mix. They are now actively considering how to meet the emerging need.

Trustee, consultant, former CEO, former Director of FR -

The sector should not be shy about articulating the necessity for fundraising. There is an opportunity for trustees to work with the SMT on greater clarity of purpose – and ‘why support us?’ There is concern about the tone and tenor of the big reports of 15/16: ‘If I were not deeply immersed in the sector, I would worry about being a trustee’. Reserves policies are a major issue impacting on the way in which planning is undertaken; focus on values, not just results. Stresses the need to involve FR teams and the Board when FR strategy is under discussion to ensure planning considerations and value considerations inform the risk framework – if FR is to be increasingly relational, what is the short- / medium- / long-term impact on income and the ability to serve the cause? A view that compliance is an operational matter, not a governance matter, but should be present on the risk register with the Board holding the SMT to account. The importance of developing non-financial measures alongside the financial ones.

Trustee and SMT workshop about governance and fundraising –

Key themes that emerged included the lack of specific fundraising elements in trustee inductions, the importance and helpfulness of the FR director and the FR ambassador on the Board, building a strong relationship, and the reiteration of the need to recruit the skills necessary. If establishing an FR sub-committee, one should get the mandate and terms of reference right. Furthermore disappointment that many boards do not perceive FR as a professional discipline was expressed. IOF and a recruiter who was active in trustee placement were present and reported on some of their research. There is a need for Boards to have clearer focus regarding values and expectations, and a discussion on the usefulness of the ‘critical friend’ model prevalent in the school governor world – possibly requiring a change in perspective on the part of both fundraisers and boards.

Nfp 2016 Trustee survey –

Note the survey was about the wider trustee experience and was not focused on fundraising governance.

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About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

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