Trustees and Funding: Ensuring your organisation is resourced

Author: Megan Thorn

Governance refers to the decisions, processes, activities, and relationships of your governing group that make sure your organisation is effectively and properly run. Your governing group, the board of trustees, the
committee, management committee, council or whatever they are called for your organisation, is responsible for the long-term success of your organisation. Part of that role is ensuring your organisation is adequately resourced to carry out its mission, including adequate funds. While, depending on your model of governance, some governing groups will delegate much of the task of bringing in funds to the person responsible for day-to-day operations in your organisation, ultimate responsibility still sits with them. Here are some ways that your governing group can help to ensure your organisation is adequately resourced, and it’s not all about making a donation.

Get very clear around roles and responsibilities

Sometimes the governance and management lanes around bringing in funds have not been clearly established. That can lead to confusion,  frustration, resentment, and conflict.

Do a fundraising roles and responsibilities audit, both you and the board. List all the roles, and responsibilities, related to bringing funds into your organisation. What are governance roles? What are management roles? Which roles are shared? And how exactly are they shared? How does it all work from a capacity point of view. Considering the capacity of you and your operations team, and all the other responsibilities you have on a day-to-day basis, how much of the funding responsibilities can you effectively take on? The board may not be aware of what is involved, starting the discussion can be great for helping raise awareness.
Where are the opportunities to match the awesome skills of your governing group with taking on responsibility for raising funds? Doing an audit may also help to identify where you are lacking some fundraising
skills on the board, helpful for trustee recruitment.

The reality is everyone in your organisation should be involved in fundraising to some degree, and your trustees are no exception.

Strategic Plan and Funding Strategy

Your organisation’s strategic plan and funding strategy are two vital elements of ensuring your long-term success. Your strategic plan captures your strategic focus areas, what you need to do to ensure your organisation is sustainable for the long-term. The focus of your funding strategy is the total funds you need to raise (funds for strategic plan over the year + what you need to operate for a year). The next step
is to identify where your income will come from and to ensure you have a good level of income from a number of different income streams, the sustainable part. Establishing a clear and sustainable fundraising strategy, which considers both opportunities and risks and which will enable the organisation to achieve its objectives, is a shared role.

Fundraising is all about relationships

The more relationships you have, the more money you raise. One person, as GM, does not have as many relationships as the three, four, five or more people who make up your governing group. Part of the expectation of sitting on a governing group is leveraging relationships for the betterment of your organisation.

Be a vocal ambassador

Encourage your trustees to take and make as many opportunities as possible to talk about your organisation. Raising awareness is the foundation for raising funds. Make sure your trustees are equipped to share your vision and mission, the elevator pitch. Arm them with stories of impact in action that they can confidently share. Ask them to add information about your organisation and a link to your website, and donations
page, in their email signature. Encourage them to make and take as many opportunities as possible to raise your profile. See other ideas below.

Establishing board effectiveness

The reputation of your governing group in the community will go a long way to helping raise funds. Are your trustees fulfilling their role as trustee to the best of their ability? Is your board operating at best
practice? Ensure best practice governance is happening, and that everyone knows how great your governing group is. That will also help to attract potential trustees.

Questions for trustees to consider

To help think through how your board can best support your organisation in raising funds, ensure your trustees know the answers to the following questions:

• What is your organisation’s funding strategy?
Is it sustainable? 
– Will it allow the organisation to deliver its mission?
– Will it raise the funds to achieve your strategic plan and the funds required for operations?
• Which income streams are you tapping into?
Do you know how much you raise from each income stream?
– Do you know what initiatives occur in each income stream?
– Do you know what it costs?
• Is your fundraising approach in keeping with the organisation’s mission and values?
• Who is involved in raising funds for your organisation: staff, volunteers, third parties?
• Do you have the right skills and systems in place?
• Are you happy that your organisation is compliant with all fundraising standards and legislation?
• Do you have robust processes in place to ensure you have appropriate fundraising policies, systems, culture and control mechanisms?

30 Ways your trustees can help fundraise

Once your trustees understand the importance of being active in raising funds, you need to make it easy for them to get involved. Not everyone is in a position to make donations, and not all your trustees will be
comfortable asking friends, family or colleagues for support. Share a wide range of suggestions that will add to those above and help your trustees get involved in raising funds for your organisation.
Here are 30 ideas to get you started:
1. Attend fundraising events
2. Sell tickets for events
3. Buy tickets when you are selling them for various fundraisers
4. Source auction items or raffle prizes for your events
5. Purchase your products
6. Make a personal request for a donation from someone they know well
7. Turn a personal request into a challenge, ask people to match what they have gifted
8. Speak to service clubs
9. Speak at business networking events
10. Host their own fundraising dinner
11. Introduce potential donors or sponsors
12. Attend appointments to meet donors or sponsors with the team
13. Write personalised thank you letters to donors
14. Make thank you calls to donors
15. Review prospect/donor lists with the fundraising team to identify people they know, with whom they might help engage
16. Distribute posters/leaflets to organisations in your local community and say hello
17. Do something good for themselves that raises funds for you at the same time – the marathon they’ve always wanted to run, or the fun run/walk, or swimathon etc. (use a peer-to-peer fundraising platform to increase the funds raised and challenge others they know to do the same thing)
18. Get competitive and inventive, by seeing who can source the best ‘money can’t buy’ (and doesn’t cost them anything) experience (don’t stop there, see item 19)
19. Challenge friends to source the best ‘money can’t buy’ experience and include as auction items at an event, or in an online auction to see who’s effort raises the most funds.                                                            20. Appear in a short social media video clip, saying why they volunteer for you and describing the fantastic impact you have (don’t stop there, see item 21)
21. Ask someone well known in their network to appear in a short social media clip, or provide a quote you can use
22. Promote your work in articles and newsletters that they receive through their own networks
23. Forward campaign email/ newsletters to individuals in their own network who may be interested
24. Connect on social media, and like and share your organisations posts
25. Host a ‘friendraiser’ in their house or at their office and invite you along to talk about your organisation
26. Help writing Christmas cards to key funders and stakeholders
27. Actively introduce people to you
28. Write letters to the editor, or call talk back radio, on topics that relate to your cause
29. Get fundraising training
30. Add an item to the agenda of your next board meeting during the fundraising portion of the meeting for generating ideas for ways they can help with fundraising, pick one to do.

Answer any questions your trustees might have and make sure you make available any resources they may need or find helpful. You can even suggest that this is an inspiration list, that will help them create
something that fits better with them.

About the Author: Megan Thorn – Megan is the Managing Director of Exult, she is passionate about governance and helping organisations to build board capability and best practice process to help them work to their full potential.