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This blog post was published under the 2015 to 2017 Conservative government

How trustees can restore donor trust: new fundraising guidance

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Today we published our updated fundraising guidance, CC20.

Much has been said in the media and in Parliament about some of the issues uncovered over the last year but now is not the time to revisit or rehash them. Now, we hope, is the time to look forward.

What has been clear in the midst of all this is that the role of the trustee is vital. The publication of our new guidance today makes that absolutely clear. So if you’re a trustee and you’re reading this, the bottom line is that the buck stops with you. The good news, however, is that this guidance is here to help you.

What do charities need to do differently?

Our guidance isn’t there to dwell on the mistakes that have been made or simply set the parameters within which we can hold people to account (although it does do that). Instead, we hope it will offer a framework for a step change in charities’ approaches to fundraising. It provides trustees with the tools they need to do more than just meet the basics and will help them succeed in raising much needed funds while protecting their charity’s reputation.

We’ve made the new version of the guidance as clear as possible and that has been received well. But we cannot escape the fact that fundraising is often complex. If fundraising is too complex for trustees to understand, they can’t simply turn a blind eye. For some, this will mean that their trustee boards will need to skill up. This might be through training. It might be through external advice. Or it might be through new blood on your trustee board. Whichever way trustees choose, this can be an opportunity.

The guidance also states that the relationship between trustees and fundraisers is often in need of improvement. Each has to understand the other’s role. This should provide the framework for trustees to close that gap and provide the appropriate oversight and challenge. Trustees should be bold about that challenge and fundraisers should welcome it. In the long term, it’s in their best interests.

You’ll also notice that this guidance is crisper. It is clearer. Ultimately, it is shorter. It focusses on what the trustees from a wide range of charities need to know and do. It focusses on what only we can tell you. However, it signposts to other places offering help, support, advice and further reading.

Working with a practical guide for the sector

We are also pleased that the Institute of Fundraising, together with NCVO, CFG and ACEVO, will publish a guide for trustees later in the summer which will give more practical help on issues such as developing a fundraising strategy, choosing fundraising methods and effective working between trustees and fundraising staff. We hope that these two pieces of guidance will complement each other and provide trustees with the information they need to oversee their charity’s vital fundraising and meet the challenges the public have set. No less will suffice.

Events of the last year have demonstrated that good governance is vital. And that when trustees provide good governance, charities can and will flourish. Where they don’t, we encounter problems that can harm the entire sector.

What has also been shown, however, is that good governance is a concept not easily communicated to the public. That is a wider issue and one for another blog… But, ultimately, public concern about these issues has come from bad donor experiences. Hopefully, this guidance will lead to better ones. Beyond all the complexities, it can’t get much simpler than that.

So read the guidance, share it with your colleagues and, lastly, let us know what you think.

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