KNOWLEDGE: Blog digest June 2017

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. Inclusion in this digest does not indicate that Rogare agrees with any arguments presented, only that we thought they made a good argument.

We need a science of philanthropy


Billions of dollars are being donated without strong evidence about which ways of giving are effective, says Caroline Fiennes.

Choice quote:

“The dominant theory in business is that specialization boosts success; nobody knows whether (or when) that is true in philanthropy.”

We reserve the right to push back on onerous consent requirements

Third Sector (paywall)

If we find ourselves in conflict with the Fundraising Regulator in order to defend our beneficiaries, so be it, says Paul Vanags.

Choice quote:

“There is an inherent tension between the priorities of the regulator and the imperative to investigate all avenues of funding to allow our good work to continue. It therefore demands that charities represent the rights and interests of their beneficiaries as well as their own.”

What you need to know about generosity

Hands on Fundraising

Mary Cahalane asks how generosity works and fundraisers can encourage it.

Choice quote:

“Research has found that we find it easier to be generous when we feel we’re only giving up a little bit to help someone. This makes sense – think of how powerful we find a food bank’s offer: ‘$5 feeds a family for a week.’”

Teach a fundraiser to fish…Rogare’s theory of change for fundraising

Critical Fundraising

Amanda Shepard outlines Rogare’s new theory of change, which aims to move fundraisers away from a ‘copy the case study’ model to a situation where they demand to see the evidence for what they are being told to do.

Choice quote:

“The risk for anyone who sees their role as providing answers (or solutions) is that their answers might not be very good ones, and if no-one knows how to challenge them (i.e. ask questions), those poor answers will be perpetuated throughout professional practice.”

Space bar – reducing the distance between donors and the fundraising events they attend

Critical Fundraising

People think about things they feel close to in a different way to things they feel apart from. Harriet Day explains how Construal Level Theory can be applied to transform fundraising events by making donors feel psychologically closer to the action.

Choice quote:

“In understanding how the human brain comprehends psychological distance, fundraisers can ensure they are maximising their chances of creating meaningful and memorable relationships with their audiences.”

The case of the accidental fundraiser and the need to professionalise fundraising

Critical Fundraising

Is fundraising a ‘profession’? As Rogare publishes a green paper on the subject, Ian MacQuillin argues that it isn’t, and can’t be while you don’t have to know anything about fundraising in order to become a fundraiser.

Choice quote:

“If everyone is a fundraiser, that implies that anyone can be a fundraiser. If fundraisers don’t need to learn any specialist knowledge to argue to the board for a particular fundraising option, why do board members need to have learned any specialist knowledge to argue for a different option.”

Critical thinkers are needed in philanthropy and fundraising


Rogare’s director Ian MacQuillin outlines the challenges in translating academic theory into professional fundraising practice.

Choice quote:

“There is a particular learning culture in fundraising that puts store by how ‘passionate’ fundraisers are for the cause and tends to downplay or derogate their actual ‘passion’ for their professional role.”

Effective giving: how the world’s wealthy could help millions more people for free

The Conversation

Ethicist Theron Plummer calls for more strategic giving from the world’s wealthiest.

Choice quote:

“Even if it is not morally wrong to decline giving away half of your fortune, it would be wrong to give it to some charities when it’s clear that by giving to others you would be helping substantially more people, and at no extra cost”

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