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Action Planning

Action Planning helps not-for-profit organisations increase their impact and effectiveness through a deep understanding of the funding, leadership, personnel and practical challenges they face.

How should trustees have effective oversight of fundraising?

We are quite often asked to help charities recruit a ‘fundraising trustee’ to their Board. Sometimes this is for the perfectly reasonable purpose of providing expert scrutiny of fundraising. In other cases it’s rather more disingenuous – looking to get fundraising consultancy on the cheap!

Either way, there is a danger that if there is a ‘fundraising expert’ on the Board, all the other trustees think “well that’s all right then – they can worry about that; I don’t have to.” But in just the same way that having an accountant as the Treasurer doesn’t obviate the need for all trustees to exercise effective financial controls, so having an experienced fundraiser on the Board doesn’t let all the other trustees off the hook of overseeing fundraising. By all means the ‘fundraising trustee’ can provide informed guidance, but the other trustees should be more than willing to ask the ‘dumb questions’ – which often produce surprisingly revealing answers!

Charity trustees are required to know a lot about the fundraising activities that go on in the name of their charity, yet the world of fundraising is becoming more complex, more regulated, more scrutinised, more competitive and more expensive.

The Charity Commission document CC20: ‘Charity fundraising – a guide to trustee duties’ tells you all you need to know about trustees’ statutory responsibilities in relation to fundraising CC20 Taking responsibility for our charity’s fundraising: a checklist for trustees (

You should also refer to the Code of Fundraising Practice (Code of Fundraising Practice | Fundraising Regulator). The code outlines both the legal rules that apply to fundraising and the standards designed to ensure that fundraising is open, honest and respectful.

It is neither possible nor desirable for trustees to stand over their fundraisers’ shoulders every minute of the day, to make sure they are happy with what is going on and that it complies with legislation and regulation.

It can be helpful to think through a few key questions that will tease out what is really happening, and how things are really going. Do encourage honesty in the answers – we aren’t looking to apportion blame, but to find solutions to issues as they arise. Don’t be afraid to follow up with supplementary questions if you don’t understand the first answer, or if it doesn’t include enough information. Remember that it’s the job of a trustee to ask all the dumb questions!

David Saint, chairman, Action Planning, June 2021

The company is led by David Saint – a highly experienced strategy, management and fundraising consultant – supported by a nationwide community of skilled associate consultants, covering a wide range of specialisms.

Our services are organised under three broad headings:
• Governance and strategy
• Fundraising and marketing
• People and practice

Our pragmatic ‘can-do’ approach to solving problems and developing opportunities is neatly captured in our slogan – “The answer’s yes. What’s the question?!”

Free advice surgeries for ACEVO members – click for more information

Action Planning is a specialist consultancy for charities and other not-for-profits, offering expert help with a comprehensive range of services, including governance, planning, fundraising, marketing, recruitment and training.

While other consultancies specialise in one aspect of charity work, we have expertise across the board, enabling us to identify the best opportunities for each client and provide the most appropriate services for each situation.

30-minute strategy and planning session with Eleanor Mitchell

Effective charities require strategic thinking and planning. In this session we will explore your strategic aims and advise on tips for improvement and how planning links to effective outcome measures.

Sometimes we get stuck, cannot see the wood from the trees, are too enmeshed in the work to see where improvements are needed or not. In this 30 minute session we will gain and understanding of your charities current position, where it wants to be and highlight key obstacles or sticking points with pointers as to how to take the next steps.

Ensuring your charity has the right structure and understanding of what is required internally to win and deliver contracts is imperative to excellent outcomes for the organisation.

Eleanor works with charities conducting strategic reviews to ensure they are operating effectively and able to grow alongside their missions and aims. Eleanor has extensive experience of growth development within organisations, including income generation and partnership growth.  Eleanor’s skills are in knowing how charities work and how to make them as efficient as possible through internal operations, systems and effective management. She has the ability to work with staff at all levels to understand the difficulties and challenges facing organisations and then to identify changes to existing practices and initiatives to improve performance. 

30-minute call with Action Planning consultant, Ned Wells, specialising in capacity building for social enterprises

If you have started to diversify your income through trading and are struggling to build capacity, we can help you with expert insight into business growth and marketing techniques.

As an employee, consultant and founder of two successful digital marketing businesses, Ned Wells has helped organisations of every hue to define, measure and achieve their digital marketing objectives. Today he helps charities to diversify their revenue through better marketing and sales processes.

Some of his recent projects include:

  • building a digital marketing strategy for a commercial service within a large federated environmental charity. Then guiding the implementation
  • growth coaching for a new business unit focused on employee volunteering within an established social enterprise
  • leading a large web-agency procurement project for a not-for-profit education organisation
  • strategic planning and delivery for some technical projects (SEO, content, usability, data and reporting)

Action Planning’s full range of services.

Legal advice helpline from Action Planning

Action Planning are pleased to offer all ACEVO members a free 30 minute telephone consultation on any legal issues affecting your charity (excluding employment, conveyancing and dispute resolution).  To make use of this offer, please contact David Kirby on 020 3920 8399 or at

David Kirby is a charity solicitor with more than ten years’ experience in the sector. He qualified as a solicitor in 2007 and shortly after joined the Charity Commission as a legal advisor. He then moved to Samaritans where he worked as Head of Governance & Legal. In 2016, David founded his own legal practice with the aim of providing access to high quality, specialist legal advice at affordable fees.  David is also an associate consultant at Action Planning, with access to the expertise and support of its wide network of charity sector professionals.

What is on offer

The legal advice helpline is available for advice across a wide range of areas including:

  • Incorporations, mergers and restructures
  • Constitutional reviews and amendments
  • Commercial and business issues
  • Governance and compliance matters
  • Contracts and procurement
  • Grant agreements and fundraising
  • Liaison with the Charity Commission and other regulators

Please contact David today to arrange your free consultation.



PHONE: +44 (0) 20 3920 8399


We would be delighted to try to answer your question – for example in relation to (but not limited to):
• Organisational strategic planning and business planning
• Board development and governance reviews
• Overarching fundraising strategy, or specific fundraising disciplines
• Overarching marketing and communications strategy, or specific marketing and communications disciplines
• Senior recruitment – eg trustees, Chief Executives, other Director posts


David Saint
01737 814758

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99 Ashurst Road, Tadworth KT20 5EY

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