Management is a skill that allows you to get others to do what you want them to do. In general terms it’s usually done by instruction: ‘I want you to achieve X’.

Leadership is a talent that creates a team environment within which the entire organisation is inspired by what needs to be done and is passionate about doing it. In this scenario instruction is dropped in favour of motivation: ‘We’re going to achieve X; now let’s agree how and what your part will be’. In my experience, this approach achieves better results than management.

Fundraising leadership

When you consider charities and their fundraising activities, it is essential that the senior team shows leadership qualities. You cannot consider yourself a leader if you set your fundraising manager a target and simply tell them to get on with it. If a charity needs to raise funds to support its cause, then everybody in the organisation needs to be a ‘fundraiser’ and leadership must come from the top.

Sit down with your fundraising manager and find out what they need you to do to make your fundraising activities more effective. That may involve visiting prospective major donors, fronting presentations, or accompanying the fundraising team on promotional visits. Whatever it requires, you are responsible for demonstrating leadership qualities.

Leading by example

Are you a CEO or senior manager of a charity?  Do you make donations to your own organisation? You should! How can you ask other people to do what you are not prepared to do yourself?  It’s a much easier conversation to have with a friend or business acquaintance to say; ‘Have you thought of making a regular monthly donation? I do, it’s quite rewarding’.  Once again, leading by example.

Leading with enthusiasm

In all of these cases, it is essential that you participate with enthusiasm; any reluctance will soon be identified as paying lip-service. It is equally important whether you have full-time professional fundraisers, part-time, casual or volunteer staff. In fact, the closer you get to the volunteer end of the spectrum, the more important it is to show leadership qualities. If you simply manage volunteers without inspiring them, they will probably find something more inspiring to donate their time to.

If you inspire people, they will probably amaze you with what they achieve. This requires leadership.


David Irving is the Chief Executive at Fundraising Institute of New Zealand

David has experience in senior management and governance; having held a number of senior roles, including CEO, and several directorships, particularly start-up companies. David has strong experience in developing high performance teams, in both commercial and not for profit sectors.