A recent survey of more than 40 not-for-profit (NFP) CEOs found that their board members rarely give money themselves and are also generally poor at fundraising. Both of these factors play an important role in developing a culture of giving within the organisation and attracting charitable donations, particularly major gifts.
Perpetual has engaged Noble Ambition to work with our non-profit clients and to develop the ‘NFP CEO Fundraising Survey’ to better understand the challenges faced by CEOs and boards of NFPs. The survey feeds into a white paper which draws on the survey results, as well as global fundraising best practice, to help Australian NFPs improve their fundraising.
The survey unearthed a number of issues which are inhibiting the fundraising capabilities of Australian NFPs including:
- Board members’ personal giving to their own NFP is surprisingly low
- CEOs and their boards are often unclear about their different roles and the time and effort they should be putting into fundraising
According to philanthropy expert and Director of Noble Ambition, Melissa Smith:
“The role of the board is critical in not only being able to advocate for the organisation, but also personally to give and to personally ask others to give.”
- Melissa Smith
Melissa says that the Australian experience is different to the US. In the US board engagement in fundraising is often couched within ‘give, get or get off’, whereas the Australian culture is less direct and more nuanced, often following a ‘time, talent or treasure’ approach. This approach can be unclear in the expectations it sets for boards and as such the white paper makes the case for a new approach to board participation in fundraising in Australia.
How do we improve fundraising capability in Australia?
The two main impediments which Melissa sees to engaging boards in fundraising are “cultural and technical”.
Cultural change is always a long, hard road, but overcoming the technical impediment could happen more quickly by helping boards get better at fundraising.
“If you do want to build your capabilities in this area where do you go to? How do you learn? What we’re finding is those that do it really well have learnt from their peers.”
Perpetual has collaborated with Melissa on a white paper which aims to help boards and CEOs improve their fundraising. It draws on successful Australian fundraising campaigns, international best practice principles as well as Melissa’s deep expertise and Perpetual’s own knowledge. Commenting on the upcoming release, Caitriona Fay, Perpetual’s General Manager for Community & Social Investment, said:
“We’re really excited to share this white paper with the sector. Melissa is one of Australia’s greatest fundraising minds and the small workshops we’ve already held with her are getting fantastic feedback.
Many of the not-for-profit clients we work with want to grow their fundraising capability to give them more resources for their great work in communities. This white paper and our work with Noble Ambition will help us support the NFPs we work with in a way that matters to them.”
Melissa was Global Fundraiser of the Year, and Australian Fundraiser of the Year in 2011 and has led several high-profile fundraising campaigns for well-known Australian cultural and educational institutions, as well as facilitating more than $40 million in philanthropic giving over her career.