Checklist: Saying no to kind friends

By governance expert Judith Rich

Judith Rich
Judith Rich

Twice recently I have been asked for advice on an element of trusteeship that I have not come across before: how to refuse kind friends who wish to raise money for the charity.

In both cases, the trustees were approached by friends who wanted to hold events that would probably have broken even at best.

And in both cases the friends wanted to be paid. The trustees wanted to turn the offers down, but found themselves in an embarrassing situation: the friends could not understand why they were not leaping at the suggestion.

This is a potential hazard for a small charity. In these cases, the organisations were larger and well-known in their fields. It's possible the friendships weren't close in the first place. But it is still difficult when a professional role causes difficulty and unhappiness outside its boundaries.

I suggested they meet their respective friends in a location outside their personal one and attempt to make them accept that, although any support was welcome, it was not possible to ask the charity's paid staff to spend time and effort on a project outside their planned schedule, and that the charity could not reimburse anything other than minimal expenses.

I have not heard whether they are still friends.

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