Senior charity managers should be more involved in fundraising, says Shelter chief

Campbell Robb says too many boards and chief executives pretend that 'fundraising happens by magic'

Campbell Robb
Campbell Robb

Fundraising is a "dirty secret" for many boards and chief executives in the voluntary sector, according to Campbell Robb, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter.

Speaking at an event on successful fundraising at Cass Business School last night, the former director-general of the Office of the Third Sector - the forerunner of the Office for Civil Society - said many people in the voluntary sector almost wanted to pretend that fundraising happened by magic.

"For many in the voluntary sector, board and chief executives in particular, fundraising is their dirty secret," he said. "For me this is an untenable position."

He said senior management should show that fundraising was important and should be involved in it.

Robb also spoke about the importance of treating new forms of fundraising, such as social media, like any other form of fundraising and having objectives for them.

"When you ask an organisation what they are doing with social media, they say ‘we’re on Facebook and our chief executive is on Twitter’ – that is not a strategy," he said.

Stephen Lee, academic leader at Cass Business School, spoke about the importance of looking after donors. As an example of bad donor treatment, he told a story of how his 11-year-old daughter had once sent a £500 cheque to Unicef and had received 13 letters back from the charity, which were addressed to her as if she was a spinster.

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