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Report finds NFP boards lack leadership in fundraising


Wednesday, 13th November 2019 at 2:30 pm
Luke Michael
Fundraising is the responsibility of every board member, experts say    


Wednesday, 13th November 2019
at 2:30 pm
Luke Michael


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Report finds NFP boards lack leadership in fundraising
Wednesday, 13th November 2019 at 2:30 pm

Fundraising is the responsibility of every board member, experts say    

Not-for-profit boards need to take a more active role in fundraising or else risk losing key staff and donors, according to a new report.

A white paper from Perpetual and Noble Ambition founder Melissa Smith said driving a philanthropic culture and 100 per cent board participation in giving was critical to the future of NFP fundraising.

But the report found a lack of confidence and cultural issues were preventing boards from achieving this.

Caitriona Fay, Perpetual general manager of community and social investment, said NFP boards did not currently show the fundraising leadership required to drive meaningful cultural change.

“Many boards seem to think fundraising sits over there with someone else. Too many see it purely as a management issue, rather than a key governance issue that needs to be addressed both from a strategy and oversight perspective,” Fay said.

“It is clear fundraising needs to evolve to a whole-of-board capability and should be a supporting pillar to a board’s role of governance, strategy and advocacy.”

The report paper identified four pillars to help board members better contribute to their organisation’s fundraising goals.

Pillar one: Give

If they have the financial capacity, board members should give generously to the organisations they serve. This will boost an NFP’s philanthropic funds and also encourage others to give.

Pillar two: Get

Board directors should use their dual positions as directors and donors to attract major philanthropic investments from within their networks.

Pillar three: Leverage                                    

Boards can also leverage public and private funds to build transformational partnerships for their NFP. This can help multiply the scale of investment through public-private partnerships or matching.

A recent example is Art Gallery of NSW and State Library of Victoria’s capital fundraising campaigns, which have raised $130 million collectively.

Pillar four: Leadership

Fundraising leadership at board level can drive the cultural change required to turn fundraising into a strategic organisational priority. Only then can lofty fundraising ambitions be achieved.

Fay told Pro Bono News it was important there was a voice for fundraising within the board room.

She said while it helped to have someone with strong fundraising expertise on the board, it was the responsibility of all directors to play a part.

“The responsibility for fundraising doesn’t just sit with one person on the board. Fundraising is everybody’s challenge,” she said.

“It should be something every single board member is engaged with to some extent.”

Fay said NFPs that did not take heed of this lesson risked losing key staff and donors to more fundraising-savvy charities.

She noted it was a tough job to attract and retain good fundraising staff, who had plenty of opportunities to move throughout the sector.

“If you don’t value fundraising at a board level, or engage in the right way, then the likelihood is you’re going to lose great staff members,” she said.

“And it’s really critical in a sector where stewarding long-term relationships can lead to some terrific philanthropic outcomes for your organisation… which is vital not just for your charity, but for the communities you support.”


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


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