Get On Board with Fundraisers

According to the “Marketing Multiplied” report, published by Core Media and the Association of Advertising, a business will generate a 500% return as a direct result of investing in advertising. The study found that for every €1 invested in advertising a net return of €5.44 is generated. Despite these figures, the report found that board members were “still unconvinced” of the benefits of investing in advertising and marketing and the direct relationship with a growing business. In a study by S&P of 1,500 US boards, just 2.6% of the 65,000 board members were marketers. The US study found that boards with marketers were more successful, delivering a three point increase in shareholder return over a board that did not have any marketers. The absence of marketers from boards goes a long way to explaining why marketing budgets are thought of as an expense rather than an investment.

In response to these findings we decided to investigate the makeup of the boards of Irish charities to establish the percentage of board members who were either professional fundraisers or had some fundraising experience. Bearing in mind that charity boards have the dual responsibility of firstly raising money and secondly, spending it to achieve the charity’s mission, the importance of fundraising cannot be overstated. Quite simply without raising funds a charity cannot achieve its mission.

The research was carried out using data sourced from Benefacts, the database of Irish nonprofits, charity websites, LinkedIn and email requests sent to charities. The research was conducted based on a sample of 50 well known Irish charities with annual incomes in excess of €1M. A minimum of three charities from each of the following sub-sectors were included in the sample- advocacy and human rights; children’s organisations; culture and recreation; disability; education; environment; health; overseas development aid; and social services.

A review of the biographies of each board member for the 50 charities revealed that not one described themselves as a professional fundraiser but 28 board members (5.6%) did reference fundraising experience in their profiles.

The breakdown of the 28 board members by sub-sector is shown below.

An analysis of board members with fundraising experience as a percentage of the total number of board members in each sub-sector revealed the following;


The findings from this research indicate that there is a lack of representation of individuals with fundraising experience on the boards of Irish charities. Until there are more fundraisers on boards of Irish charities, fundraisers will continue to struggle to convince their boards that fundraising is as important a responsibility as achieving the charity’s mission. Without the money to spend, it will be mission impossible for charities.