'Fundraisers as good as ex-officers' for top jobs

Charity trustees are missing a trick by favouring ex-army officers over fundraisers when recruiting new chief executives, according to Gill Astarita, chief executive of Volunteer Reading Help.

Trustees traditionally turn to ex-service workers, financial experts or the private sector to recruit for the top job and, as a result, they are not promoting enough fundraising directors into the position of chief executive, she told delegates at her session, 'From Fundraiser to Chief Executive - Sharing Some Top Tips'.

"There is a case of tunnel vision from trustees when they make this decision, and there is a lack of appreciation of what the fundraising director's role involves," she said. "It isn't given the recognition it deserves."

Fundraising directors can make excellent chief executives because their roles are complex and they have to be competent with finances, HR management and technology, said Astarita. "Fundraisers are often visionary," she said. "I think they make things happen and they are forward-thinking. The best charities have chief executives who were once fundraising directors. It makes sense because they know how to bring the income in."

She offered advice to fundraising directors eyeing a promotion. "Go and buy your trustees a cup of coffee and pick their brains," she said. "People love flattery."

- Be nosey and noisy
- Have opinions, express them
- Get involved and get out of the fundraising box
- Understand service delivery
- Be politically savvy
- Be willing to take on new areas outside the job description
- Remember, talented people always get promoted

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