Being on the other side, tips for fundraising with your trustees

This is a guest blog by the fantastic Louise Morris.   Louise writes brilliant articles on her own website, covering governance, leadership and major gifts fundraising.  We are so delighted that she has written this piece for us…


Why didn’t I do it before?  What a great experience being on the ‘other side’ has been for me since I became a trustee a year ago. I’m adding fundraising expertise to a small, brilliantly impactful international charity.  I’m part of an inspirational team.  I’m learning a huge amount.

I’ve worked with many charity boards but being part of one has helped me understand the relationship between trustees and fundraisers differently.

Here are some top tips if you’re a fundraiser working, or wanting to work, with your Board.

1)“The Board” are people

  • “The trustees don’t have fundraising on their radar”
  • “It’s not a well-connected board”.

When we think of the Board as one entity, we can easily forget that individual relationships are at the heart of it.

Understand who makes up your Board, what their skills, passions and interests are. Meet them and decide through this who will be involved with fundraising. You don’t need to have every single trustee 100% engaged in your plans for it to make a difference.

2) Get to know your trustees

Myself and a fellow trustee had the incredible experience of visiting Ethiopia with one of the four members of charity staff. It was an unforgettable trip. We came back truly understanding the work and its impact, but also each other.

Barring a long -distance project visit, have coffee with a trustee to understand their ideas and thoughts.  If they’re both at an event, chat to them before or after, even just for 5 minutes. Suggest how they could be involved. Get to know how they prefer to be contacted and what else they have going on in their lives.

3) Agree fundraising information and KPIs

Ask what information is useful for your trustees?  Then suggest a report you’ll provide.  Trustee colleagues and I have recently discussed the fundraising information we receive with staff at the charity.  We agreed to cut half of the detail that was being included.  This saves the sole fundraiser there a significant amount of time each month.


4) If you don’t ask you don’t get

Be clear about what you’re asking trustees to do – whether it’s coming to a major donor dinner as part of your ‘home team’, circulating challenge event places, corporate introductions, or donating personally.  Consider how and when you ask.  Some asks work when all trustees are together.  Others, such as asking for high-net-worth introductions, need a more personal one on one approach.

5) Thank them like you would your donors

I got a beautiful hand- written card from the fundraiser of the charity I’m trustee of 6 months ago, thanking me for my support.  If asked, I would be the first to say I don’t need thanking!  It did put an enormous smile on my face though and it’s still on my office board.

Remember, tough as your role is as a fundraiser, trustees are giving their time for free to help your charity fulfil its mission. They care as much as you.


Louise Morris is founder of Summit Fundraising, which helps charities develop a confident and sustainable approach to major donor fundraising that works. They offer consultancy, tailored workshops & training, and coaching, to support you to launch your major donor fundraising or improve your existing programme.

Outside of fundraising Louise is a keen rock climber, she leads her local Beaver Scout group and loves spending time with her family – her husband, two energetic boys, a cat and two chickens! 

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Posted in Charity governance, Fundraising, Major gift fundraising, Trustees.