How To Engage Charity Trustees In Fundraising - Duties & Responsibilities

Many charities are struggling financially, yet only half of charity trustees are actively involved in fundraising. This 1st of 2 articles that enable charity trustees to understand their fundraising duties and substantial fundraising regulatory responsibilities. The 2nd gives them 20 ways in which they can become activly involved in doing so and enjoy themselves. Many are simply not able to make a significant financial donation, but everyone can do something.

Statutory Obligations

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Charity Commission guidance (CC20) makes clear that fundraising is a board responsibility. It lays out 6 key principles – a very good starting point. 

  1. Planning effectively.
  2. Supervising your fundraisers.
  3. Protecting your charity’s reputation, money and other assets.
  4. Identifying and ensuring compliance with the laws or regulations that apply specifically to your charity’s fundraising.
  5. Identifying and following any recognised standards that apply to your charity’s fundraising.
  6. Being open and accountable.

They must also comply with the Fundraising Regulator's code of practice, and HMRC, the ICO and others also issue guidance. It is not trustees responsibility to do all this themselves, but it is their responsibility to ensure that it is done, so they will wish to that there are adequate systems in place and working.  

For charities working internationally, some UK laws are applicable to work overseas, such as anti-bribery and data protection legislation, and there are specific HMRC requirements in respect of transferring charitable funding overseas and tax, as well as international agreements and host country legislation. 

Creating A Fundraising Culture

With demand expected to increase and income not, driving fundraising growth is critical to protecting increasingly vulnerable services. Regrettably, all too often, some people still see this as ‘not my problem’. Even trustees and senior staff who are responsible for making clear that it is and without whom it won’t be. Trustees must recognise that fundraising is a priority and the responsibility of everyone in the charity, and get behind the CEO and fundraisers to create a fundraising culture.  

Exercising Oversight

Equally, whilst some fundraisers are brilliant, others can be masters of obfuscation – these are usually the ones you really do need to ask the right questions of. For many of us, fundraising is a bit of a black art. Can your fundraising reports be understood by everyone, do they focus on the key issues (both financial and non-financial), report against business plan/budget targets and identify the action being taken, by whom, when this will be achieved by and the impact expected? If not, ask for the clarity you need.  Here's a Charity Excellence resource on how to make your reports more effective and less work.

Here are some compliance questions that the Fundraising Regulator advises you should be asking about fundraising:

  1. Have you undertaken a risk assessment?
  2. Do you have:
    1. A policy that clearly lays out how the charity accepts or refuses and uses donations?
    2. A publicly available procedure for handling fundraising complaints?
      1. And, how can the charity learn from the complaints it receives?
    3. The required agreements in place when working with others?

If you don't, you can download examples you can use from the Income questionnaire. 


Financial Support

For individuals, there are a range of tax efficient giving opportunities. 

·        Using Gift Aid, charities can claim back additional income from HMRC (as long as the donor is a UK tax payer) and, if he/she is a higher rate tax payer, they can claim this portion back for themselves. 

·        There are also tax efficient opportunities around the donation of shares, land, buildings and in wills. 

For companies, charitable donations can be used to minimise tax liability. Not only on financial donations, but also equipment, stock, land, property, shares, sponsorship and seconding employees.   

You could consider social investment which also offers tax relief.

Non-Financial Support

Trustees may not wish to donate, or may not be bale to do so. However, there are a whole range of other ways in which trustees can be actively involved in supporting fundraising. 

Company giving schemes.

·        For example, supporting in pitching to staff through company magazines for donations, or through payroll giving schemes.  

·        Senior staff in major companies are sometimes allocated funding that they can donate to a chosen charity. 

·        Some larger companies have charity trust funds (eg Lloyds and Fidelity) and internal support can be extremely helpful in securing funding.

·        Encouraging staff to organise or take part in challenge events to raise not only funds, but also promote the company and build team working and morale.

Non-cash donations

Goods – for example, support from food and drink companies to help with the cost of events. Charities also buy a wide range of goods, usually at retail prices, such as food, IT, office furniture and carpets.   

Pro Bono services – for example, construction, marketing/PR, sales, HR, H&SW, IT support and training, but also a whole range of others.   


Many companies (eg Waitrose and John Lewis) encourage volunteering and may be able to offer specialist skills you might otherwise have to pay for.  

There are a variety of charity recycling schemes for printer and photocopier cartridges and old mobile phones. All you need would be for the company to agree to promote and distribute collection boxes that are collected by the provider.

You can create your own web shop via a range of companies, who can help with leaflets/posters etc. Individuals are able to make purchases from a range of retailers at no additional cost, and sometimes with discounts, and the charity receives commission in return. And there are now a whole range of charity apps. 

In a similar vein, E Bay for Charity supports charities. Anyone can give to your charity when they sell on eBay. Sellers can donate between 10% and 100% of each item's sale price. PayPal Giving Fund will collect the donation from the seller, claim Gift Aid (if eligible) and pass 100% of the money on to you.

Access to networks

Everyone has a personal network and, potentially much more valuable, many of us have professional or business networks with commercial companies, the Media and, possibly, high net worth prospects or trusts/foundations. Having this conversation with trustees or suitable supporters during recruitment/induction, or circulating prospect lists to the board can be very useful. 

Even if individuals don’t have suitable contacts, they can still help by attending fundraising events and talking to prospects or, if appropriate, accompanying the CEO/fundraisers to meetings with trusts or prospects. 


Trustees and volunteers can also promote your work to the Media and influencers in your community. Actively encourage them to do so and provide them with support/material they might need. 

For some, this may only be getting an article published in the company newsletter or similar, displaying a poster or making leaflets available in the workplace, but it all helps. 

Also, encourage them to join your social media networks and to like and re-post/re-tweet your posts to raise your profile and build your followers.   

Access All The Free Resources

The resources on this website are just a few from the huge CEF resource base, including the 8 assessment questionnaires, the Funding Finder Database’s 100+ core funders, 250+ other free funder databases and funder lists, and the 50 funder lists; everything is free. 

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