‘Critical Fundraiser’ manifesto exhorts fundraisers to reflect on ethics and practice

  • Sister manifesto to ‘This Is a Fundraising Office’.
  • Describes behaviours that critical fundraises always do, and those they never do.
  • Encourages fundraisers to always be open to changing their views and opinions.

One of the very first things Rogare ever did was to publish our ‘This Is a Fundraising Office’ manifesto. Based on Beatrice Warde’s famous ‘printing office’ manifesto, we wanted to instil a sense of pride in the essential work that fundraisers do, pride that often feels dented and tarnished through constantly having to justify our role as a ‘necessary evil’.

We are now proud and delighted to publish a sister manifesto – I Am a Critical Fundraiser ­– which challenges fundraisers to always keep an open mind about what they know, or think they know, about fundraising, to keep their knowledge, ethics, and opinions under review, and be prepared to change them based on new and better ideas information.

Rogare’s chair, Chapel & York’s Heather Hill, says:

“Rogare’s manifestos are based on our beliefs and values about our role as fundraisers within the fundraising profession. We at Rogare are proud to be part of the fundraising profession and we are proud to be fundraisers ourselves. We have produced these with the hope they will likewise resonate with the professional values of many other fundraisers.

“‘I Am a Critical Fundraiser’ serves as a complement to Rogare’s critical thinking guide for fundraisers. The purpose of this manifesto is to challenge and encourage fundraisers to examine how they are making practical and ethical decisions. 

“Oftentimes in the fundraising profession, there is significant pressure to make decisions based on timebound financial goals. This can mean making decisions based on ease or expediency, without consideration of other implications. Our hope is that ‘I Am a Critical Fundraiser’ will equip fundraisers to pause and reflect upon best practices based in theory and evidence, as well as potential ethical impacts, as they perform their roles”

The manifesto contains 10 statements: four describe the behaviours that critical fundraisers never do; six describe behaviours they always do:

I am a critical fundraiser – I never:

  • Rely on someone’s word about what is best practice. Instead, I satisfy myself by seeking out evidence and theory. 
  • Copy what others have done, just because “it’s always been done this way”. 
  • Let personal opinions and biases prevail – my own or others’. 
  • Make decisions that have real and tangible consequences, without assessing risk. 

I am a critical fundraiser – I always:

  • Reflect critically upon my best practices, ethics, and opinions about major issues. 
  • Use best practice that is grounded in theory and evidence, and practise fundraising ethically. 
  • Take my professional development seriously and commit to knowing as much as I can. 
  • Challenge what I think is wrong with our profession. 
  • Hold those with whom I disagree to the highest standards of evidence and argument; and hold myself to the same standards. 
  • Remain open to changing my views if I am presented with better evidence and theory about what is best or ethical practice. 
‘This Is a Fundraising Office.’ Our first manifesto from 2015.

The manifesto is available in two different designs (as was the ‘Fundraising Office’ manifesto). There is also an ‘expanded’ version, which sets out the 10 statements in more depth.

Both poster designs and the expanded version can be found on the Rogare website, here.

The Critical Fundraiser manifesto was devised with input from Rogare Critical Fundraising Network members Heather Hill (USA), Ashley Belanger (USA), Anthony Petchel (USA), David Pierce (UK), and Ian MacQuillin (UK). 

We have been able to devise the manifesto, and to make it freely available to the fundraising profession, thanks to the ongoing support of our Associate Members: Bluefrog Fundraising (UK), Stephen Thomas Ltd (Canada), Ask Direct (Ireland), GoalBusters (USA) and Giving Architects (New Zealand).

The Critical Fundraiser manifesto (particularly the expanded version) draws on Rogare’s guide to critical thinking for fundraisers, by Rogare network members Cherian Koshy and Ashley Belanger (both USA), as well as our Theory of Change for fundraising.

Rogare’s critical thinking guide for fundraisers, which has informed the new Critical Fundraiser manifesto.

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