We were delighted to host a roundtable dinner for charity leaders on Thursday 23rd March at our London Cannon Street offices.
Jason Suckley, our guest speaker, gave an honest and inspiring reflection of his career to a room of ambitious Fundraising Directors from across the charitable sector. He portrayed his fascinating journey to becoming the CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation and how he made the transition from fundraising. In 2016 Make-A-Wish UK granted the wishes of 984 children, more than ever before.
The role of fundraising is changing - there is apprehension for what lies ahead, yet fundraisers may have the edge in leading a charity to a sustainable future. We were engaged in a number of key discussions throughout the evening; leadership and culture, decision making, building a strong team, Board relationships and emotional intelligence. There was a real energy around the table as everyone discussed their own challenging roles in the fundraising field.
One of the key messages from Jason was that the team which a CEO builds around them will define them as a leader. A CEO cannot be an expert at everything, so having the confidence to accept your strengths and weaknesses and build the right team around you who will compliment you will make you a better CEO.
We went on to discuss how Fundraisers are ‘doers’ and want to deliver. It can be a challenge for a fundraiser to step up into a CEO role as they will have to let their team deliver and relinquish control. They also need the confidence to take their time when making a decision and on occasion decide not to do anything. So how easy is it to not make a decision at all when challenged? The job at the top can be lonely, and the sacrifice of being liked will have to be made!
Jason also highlighted that it takes dynamic leadership and sound governance to manage a Board. When the CEO and Chair relationship functions well, and is seen as an equal partnership rather than subordinate vs superior, it provides a supportive environment for the CEO to concentrate on running and developing the organisation. Fundraisers are unique in the way they are able to establish and retain relationships with donors, but how you will establish your role and responsibility with trustees will be a key in avoiding potential conflict.
We want to thank Jason and all of our guests for making it such an enjoyable evening and look forward to hosting another stimulating event in the near future.
If you are aspiring to make the next step to become a charity CEO we would welcome a conversation and are best placed to advise. If you interested in attending future events hosted by our Not for Profit practice please contact Christina Hargreaves, Will Pringle or Sandra Hamovic