KNOWLEDGE: Blog digest October 2016

Each month, the Critical Fundraising blog presents a digest of the best fundraising-related blogs and articles that have adopted a critical fundraising mode of thought.

You’ve been reframed, part 1 – are fundraisers and programme delivery ‘ideologically’ divided bout beneficiary images

Critical Fundraising

You’ve been reframed, part 2 – how we need to rethink the question of beneficiary images

Critical Fundraising


The tension between fundraisers and programme delivery staff about how to best portray beneficiaries in marketing materials has existed at least since Live Aid and shows no sign of being resolved. In a two-part blog, Ian MacQuillin says the whole question needs to be reframed away form the simplistic notion of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ fundraising images.

Choice quote 1:

“If an NGO can’t help its beneficiaries because it doesn’t have enough money to do so, it’s probably a small crumb of comfort to them to know that at least they weren’t stereotyped in the charity’s fundraising DM.”

Choice quote 2:

“The non-fundraising side of the framing question effectively absolves itself of any responsibility for income generation, but grants itself the privilege of criticising those who take the difficult decision the non-fundraisers don’t wish to get involved with.”

Should fundraisers be feeling fine?


New research that indicates that about a fifth of people want fewer comms. But Rogare Advisory Panel member James Long says communicating less may not be the answer, and that better metrics based on the quality of the relationship rather than RFV are needed.

Choice quote:


“Not everyone will have the same expectation of their relationship, nor have the same level of satisfaction. It’s about time we created supporter experiences that reflect this rather than relying entirely upon their behaviour to define types and frequencies of communication.”

Much of the sector has been poor at building a major donor culture

Third Sector

Joe Saxton says mainstream charities need to learn from arts organisations in how they engage with major donors.

Choice quote:


“Arts organisations and charities both tread a fine line between being driven by what the punters want and what the organisation itself wants. But arts organisations tend to win by innovating: they mix the crowd-pleasers with the new artists, the lucrative with the financially risky.”

Do you know how to take criticism?


Michael Rosen says

Should criticism of a nonprofit be made in public or in private direct to that organisation? Michael Rosen explores the issue.

Choice quote:


“Not surprisingly, when I praise an organization’s work, no one ever suggests that I should not mention the name of the institution. However, when criticizing an organization, I have had some readers suggest that I should not embarrass the charity by revealing its name.”

What does the poll say?

Seth’s Blog

With a fair amount of often ropey market research about fundraising entering the public domain, Seth Godin presents a short guide on analysing and interpreting opinion polls.

Choice quote:


“When you ask people a question, they rarely give you the straight up truth in their answer, especially when there are social factors at play. The very best polls combine not only the right math, but more important, the right question structure.”

Confronting philanthropy’s image problem: does participatory giving offer a way forward?

More than the Poor Cousin (Global Fund for Community Foundations blog)

Jenny Hodgson says local philanthropy is going to become increasingly important, not only as external donor funding shrinks, but also as that which is left is increasingly viewed as ‘toxic’.

Choice quote:


“By encouraging ‘ordinary’ people to give and feel as though they have a stake, community philanthropy organizations offer essential spaces to build voice, resources and power – in fact, claiming back philanthropy as something for us all, perhaps.”

Why organizations don’t learn

Harvard Business Review

Not really a fundraising blog but HBR carries some great stuff that’s highly relevant for fundraisers. In this blog, Francesca Ginon and Bradley Staats highlight the most common reasons why organisations fail to learn lessons.

Choice quote:

“Biases cause people to focus too much on success, take action too quickly, try too hard to fit in, and depend too much on experts.”

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