KNOWLEDGE: Blog digest December 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 have nothing to fear from asking the right questions

Fundraisers are being called on to make changes, but they’re also being told not to think too much about how they do it. Ian MacQuillin wonders if there’s an anti-intellectual undercurrent in fundraising.

Resource Alliance blog

Choice quote:

“When almost every profession other than fundraising has a well-stocked supply of literature on its own professional ethics, it seems quite remarkable that fundraisers should be able to stand apart from their professional peers and ‘just do the right thing’ without having to think about what the right thing actually is.”

This blog is also available on Critical Fundraising for those without a Resource Alliance account.

Backs to the wall or back to the future?


The charity sector needs to begin to hit back at media attacks aimed towards it, claims Toby Bourke, before the sector becomes indefensible.

Choice quote:

“I believe this strategy of hiding behind the sofa, hoping that the right-wing press, with its anti-charity agenda, won’t find us there, is dangerously short-sighted. It’s the ‘wasp’ theory. ‘It won’t sting you if you don’t annoy it’ my mum would say. It still bloody stung me.”

Don’t shoot the messenger: Media ethics and the fundraising crisis

UK Fundraising

Rogare director and former journalist Ian MacQuillin weighs in on issues surrounding media bias in reports of charity practices.

Choice quote:

“Some sections of the media are so blatantly ideological in their opposition to fundraising that the question is not ‘is there an anti-fundraising ideology at work in the media?’ but, ‘what is the precise form of the media’s anti-fundraising ideology?’”

The big problem in charity that Giving Tuesday can’t fix


Drawing on research conducted by The Institute for Policy Studies in the USA, Helaine Olen discusses the implications of charity dependence on larger donations from fewer sources.

Choice quote:

“If some people give more, many give less, but record-breaking amounts of money are raised, what’s the problem? The problem is that the places the money goes reflect the values and intentions of the people giving it.”

The philosophical dispute between fundraising and data protection

Critical Fundraising

Fundraisers and data protection experts appear to have very little common ground on which to talk about ICO’s recent enforcement action. Ian MacQuillin suggests the gulf between the two could be down to different philosophical approaches.

Choice quote:

“It is by no means self-evident that the disamenity to data subjects of a charity wealth screening its database outweighs the benefit of the aid that wealth screening delivers to beneficiaries, provided it is done lawfully by the charity.”

A round-up of all blogs exploring issues relating to the Information Commissioner’s Office action against two UK charities in December can be found on Critical Fundraising.

Open source fundraising


Fervent fan of open source practice Rebecca Davies explores how open source theory can be applied to fundraising practice.

Choice quote:

“Think about it: every 101 blog post these last six years has been a publicising of data, case studies, opinions, problems, results, lessons learnt, and methodology. All opened to our global community of fundraisers for consideration, reaction, testing, tinkering, iteration, and improvement.”

The nonprofit overhead baby and the bathwater: A need-to-know for boards

Nonprofit Quarterly

John Macintosh and George Morris put forward their tips for considering overheads; what is important to know, and how should we manage them.

Choice quote:

“In a world where overhead was viewed in the proper context, organizations wouldn’t need an overhead strategy—but in the world we live in, they do.”

Bragging about program-to=admin rations is a destructive practice that needs to die

Nonprofit with Balls

Winning donor appreciation by gloating about low overheads is damaging the sector. Here’s why we should avoid discussing admin costs with donors, argues Vu Le.

Choice quote:

“Many of us complain about funders and donors’ micromanaging of how we spend funding instead of focusing on outcomes and allowing us the flexibility to do what it takes to reach those results. Well, who can blame them if we ourselves not only keep mentioning this and keeping it at the forefront of people’s minds, but also actually seem proud of it?”

AM logos May 2016

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