Raising funds for Friendship Works

In the second of his blogs for Trustee’s Week, our Chair George Dunnett reflects on how a board can meet the challenges of fundraising for their charity.

In the US, fundraising is a much more explicit part of a charity board’s role than it is here. Culturally in the UK we are usually much less comfortable talking about money. I share that reticence and find it quite embarrassing to discuss fundraising with potential donors or indeed to discuss the responsibilities of trustees for fundraising.

This topic is front of mind today as I am emailing several people to ask them to buy tickets to our annual gala dinner. Each year two of our patrons, Jonathan Pryce and Tim Piggott-Smith, take it in turns to pull together some show business friends to put on a show and dinner. It’s always an amazing event and great fun to rub shoulders with such famous people. So, it shouldn’t be hard to ask people to pay £200 a ticket to attend should it? Well, let’s just say that it doesn’t come naturally and this reminds me what an amazing job our fundraising team do – without them, there really would be no Friendship Works (incidentally, if you would like to attend the event on 24 November you can book your tickets here).

Secretly, I think we’re proud of our “don’t talk about money” attitude but being a bit more explicit could help. For example, when recruiting trustees, we look for a range of skills and attributes. Why not include having a network of High Net Worth Individuals as an explicit criteria for one or two trustees (definitely not for everyone as we need a broad range of skills)? If this was more the norm then it would be easier to recruit trustees on that basis and it would be clearer that part of their role was to take a lead on introducing people who would be interested in helping with fundraising.