NEW THINKING: Blog digest – November 2021

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.

Taking money from the Mosleys


Should Oxford University colleges St Peter’s College and Lady Margaret Hall have accepted money from the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust? Adrian Beney says it’s a complex question, not made any easier by suggestions of state intervention.

Choice quote

“The question is not just whether the money is tainted, but whether money, in and of itself, is sufficiently animate to capable of taint. Is it the money itself, or it is that which is within us and the power exchange which happens when gifts are made, which give philanthropic gifts the potential to taint?”

Why raising funds should not be the primary goal of fundraising


Vu Le says fundraisers need to re-examine their “fundamental belief” that fundraising is primarily about raising money

Choice quote:

“We become entrenched in survivalism and self-preservation. We no longer remember that the purpose of fundraising, like the purpose of everything else in our sector, is to actualize this bold and ambitious dream of what the world could be.”

  • Juniper Locilento discusses this blog on LinkedIn.

Fundraising ethics is approaching a fork in the road

Third Sector (paywall)

Fundraisers are increasingly being asked to think about the impact of their work not just on donors or beneficiaries, but on society as a whole. Ian MacQuillin explains why making that shift won’t be easy.

Choice quote:

“The ethical dilemma introduced by the climate emergency shifts the locus of duties incumbent on fundraisers from organisational stakeholders – principally donors and beneficiaries – to society as a whole. And society as a whole includes the beneficiaries of all charities, as well as people who are not beneficiaries of any charity.”

  • See also the discussion of this blog on Critical Fundraising Forum. 

How can we stop the mass exodus of fundraisers?

Critical Fundraising

As increasing numbers of fundraisers start to leave their jobs, Karen Paul says urgent action is needed to stop the brain drain.

Choice quote:

“By ignoring the issues that fundraisers have identified as reasons for leaving or relying primarily on exit interviews to facilitate important discussions about turnover, many nonprofit organizations are helping to accelerate turnover and a lack of diversity in the fundraising profession.”

charity:water and other mega-charities, we need to talk about your harmful, archaic views on overhead


‘Mega-charities’ have an oversized influence on the public’s perception of how the nonprofit sector works, an influence that is doing more harm than good, says Vu Le.

Choice quote:

“Organizations led by communities of colour, disabled people, and other marginalized communities tend to be smaller, which means they naturally have higher overhead. By training donors and funders to believe that overhead is bad, you are training donors to have negative views of these organizations, which leads to less giving as well as more restrictions, such as foundations capping how much “indirect” expenses they will support.”

Donor centricity: Is it still fit for purpose?

Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy blog

Adrian Sargeant defends donor-centred fundraising against the criticisms levelled at it by Community-centric Fundraising.      

Choice quote:

“A difficulty with the [Community-centric Fundraising) critique is that it is aimed at the ‘concept’ of donor centricity, when really the fight is with a handful of possible manifestations of the concept and certainly not ones I would recommend.”

Creating lasting change will require collaboration

Center for Effective Philanthropy

A recent Center for Effective Philanthropy report showed how foundations had responded to the Coronavirus pandemic. Cherian Koshy sets out what needs to be done to ensure funding practices don’t return to a pre-pandemic ‘normal’.

Choice quote:

“Some leaders come from a monopolistic competition — a mindset that prides itself on creating efficiencies and scale. The challenge is that in most philanthropic issues, efficiency is the cause of, not the solution to, the problem. Efficiency by its nature excludes the inefficient.”

Digital fundraising in a racialised world — challenges and opportunities for funders and fundraisers

I.G. Advisors

Emily Collins-Ellis introduced new market research that explores how fundraisers and funders can support digital fundraising for racial justice issues.

Choice quote (from research report): 

“Privileged groups are being ineffectively targeted as a homogenous mass with generic interests and motivations, and marginalised groups are being ignored or inconsistently targeted, with most asks being made of the most marginalised members.”

Beyond market and government

Schweizer Monat

Beth Breeze further outlines the defence of philanthropy advanced in her recent book.

Choice quote:

“Money is an essential element in creating social change and bringing about social justice, yet those who voluntarily provide such funds are often at best ignored and at worst vilified.”

Further reading

With the emergence of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, Mark Phillips of Bluefrog Fundraising has made available a video presentation summarising all Bluefrog’s research into donor behaviour during the pandemic, which you can find here. Mark also has a LinkedIn article summarising some of his findings.

Last month, we highlighted the first part of Alan Harrison’s three-part series on the future of nonprofit leadership. You can find parts 2 and 3 here:

  • Nonprofit leaders: The future, part ii. How will the nonprofit arts and literary sector visualize the ideal destiny?
  • Nonprofit leaders: The future, part iii. Fixing the past is great, but does it design the future?

Finally, a blog that is better suited to an Ironic Fundraising category – Mark Phillips again with his 10 ‘heretical’ fundraising ideas for 2022. Choice heretical idea:

“On balance, it is probably better to read books about fundraising rather than Twitter threads about fundraising.”

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