NEWS: New Rogare report identifies barriers to implementing relationship fundraising

  • Lack of support from senior staff and lack of evidence are key issues
  • New metrics for relationship fundraising are needed
  • Developing cultures of philanthropy and the professionalisation of fundraising seen as underlying issues.

A new report published today by the fundraising think tank Rogare looks at the barriers to implementing relationship fundraising as identified by members of its International Advisory Panel.

The report – the result of two brainstorming seminars in Colorado Springs and London – asks:

  1. What are the barriers to implementing relationship fundraising?
  2. What can be done generally to break down these barriers?
  3. What can Rogare’s International Advisory Panel do specifically to help break down these barriers?

International Advisory Panel members identified cultural issues as a major barrier, with senior staff failing to buy into and support long-term relationship fundraising. They also felt there was a lack of theory and evidence to back up relationship fundraising’s claims.

But underlying these were two key issues: whether fundraising is seen as a profession, and whether ‘cultures of philanthropy’ exist at organisations.

The report says:

“Many of the barriers may stem not just from a lack of status that comes with not being seen as a professional, but also because of fundraisers’ own lack of professional self-confidence (e.g. lack of theoretical knowledge, leading to lack of respect from board, leading to high staff turnover).

“And many organisations lack the culture of philanthropy that would lead them to strategically prioritise fundraising, while fundraising’s lack of professional respect inhibits the development of such a culture.”

Curt Swindoll (right), executive vice-president of American fundraising agency Pursuant – one of Rogare’s Associate Members, which hosted and facilitated the Colorado Springs event – describes the report as “an invitation to an honest conversation regarding what relationship fundraising practices are and are not working, and what we need to do about it”.

He adds:

“Few subjects are more important. If we hope to be exceptional at relationship fundraising, we must be adept at connecting with and engaging people, and we have to be skilled at raising money. But as this report points out, the pitfalls to achieving success are significant, but never more vital to our future financial health.”

Recommendations for Rogare (which may be carried out by task groups of the International Advisory Panel) included in the report are:

  1. Develop a set of metrics that can be used to measure the success of relationship fundraising.
  2. Establish an award for best use of relationship fundraising.
  3. Explore the current paradigms in the commercial world about customer experience and other concepts and suggest future directions for relationship fundraising.
  4. Publish case studies of great relationship fundraising on the Rogare website or a special website specially set up for the purpose.
  5. Be advocates for relationship fundraising.

The new report is the first step in the extension of the ‘Relationship fundraising: Where do we go from here?’ review. The first stages of this project were the volumes exploring the theories from marketing and social psychology that underpin RF, which were jointly sponsored by US companies Pursuant and Bloomerang, and published at the start of 2016.

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