Nicola Horlick, who owns her own firm Bramdean and has been dubbed 'City superwoman' by the media, rejected suggestions that charities should take lessons from the private sector and instead argued that the advice should flow in the opposite direction.
"I think the charity sector is well-organised, pretty well-run and efficient," she said. "In the UK, charitable fundraising is a well-developed industry and the private sector could learn by looking at the sector."
Horlick, who has helped to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Unicef, said charities faced a difficult two or three years because of the credit crunch.
The finance expert also told delegates the story of her rise to prominence in the City of London and the illness of her daughter Georgie, who died in Great Ormond Street Hospital at the age of 11.
She said working mothers needed a great deal of physical stamina but the glass ceiling was never an issue for her, despite working in a "male-dominated" industry.