INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Member Viewpoint - Let fundraisers make decisions about how to draw in supporters

HUGH MCCAW, director, Grassroots Fundraising and Online Telephone Fundraising, and trustee of the Institute

I am constantly amazed at how, and at which levels, fundraising decisions are made by charities.

Having determined the need for a high-calibre professional fundraiser, many organisations then progress to summarily dismiss their attempts to introduce a strategy for voluntary income, which requires development expenditure. The cries of "It can't be done

echo down from the corridors of power, which could be the trustees, chief executive or, in some cases, the finance director.

If fundraising is so important to an organisation, why is it often relegated in importance, within the overall structure and decision-making process? This is often because of the culture of an organisation, and culture, of course, emanates from the top. When people become trustees of a charity, they usually have a primary, if not singular, interest in the charity's service. They know little about fundraising issues, other than to issue a wish list, which they consider to be the income target. How often are fundraisers invited to trustees' meetings to discuss the many challenges they face?

Chief executives rarely have a background in fundraising, but frequently know better than the fundraiser. Often when they are supportive, they will still leave the final decision to the finance director.

Which brings me back to the question, "who should make the decisions regarding fundraising"? The answer, of course, should be the fundraiser. This will only happen when fundraising is raised to an equal level with all the other functional departments. It must have an equal priority in the minds of trustees and chief executives and this will require a substantial change of attitude and culture.

The Institute welcomes Viewpoint articles from its members. Please email (

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