NEW THINKING: Blog digest – July 2022

Each month, the Critical Fundraising blog presents a digest of the best fundraising-related blogs and articles from the previous month 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.

The ‘wildcard blog’ is a blog that does not discuss ideas that are directly related to fundraising, but whose ideas we might be able to use if we think critically and imaginatively about them.

Keeping bad company: What does the Blackbaud/NRA controversy mean for nonprofits?


Rhodri Davies unpicks the ethical issues raised by and embedded within Blackbaud’s decision to count the USA’s National Rifle Association as a client.

Choice quote:

“Even though they may not like the NRA itself, [some people] may believe that it is the fundamental value of civil society plurality that needs to be defended above all else, and thus argue that the inclusion of groups like the NRA may be the price we have to pay.”

Why you should stop f***ing about with your logo and stick to fundraising instead

This is the text of Rogare’s inaugural Critical Fundraising Lecture, delivered by Bluefrog’s Mark Phillips. The text is available from:

Choice quote:

“After a major rebrand, there is a major danger that the organisation will be seen as yet another, unknown charity. And the result is that many donors, despite being told, don’t realise what happened to the old organisation that they knew and loved. Their loyalty remains with that original brand, and they don’t give to this new charity as they wait in vain for that appeal with the old brand to drop through the letterbox.” 

The highs and lows of CCF in practice: 9 approaches we’ve championed

Community-centric Fundraising

But how do you actually do community-centric fundraising?…is a comment/criticism you’ll often hear. Maria Rio describes some of the approaches the Stop Community Food Centre has tried out.

Choice quote:

“It is not always a smooth journey. We’ve had to reckon with the origins of wealth in a capitalist system and our role in maintaining or enabling inequality. We have also had various challenges such as educating and getting buy-in from the board…We’ve had to walk away from donations because they did not align with our values, and we are still unsure how the move from events to individual giving will affect our revenue five years from now.”

What is fundraising selling? The story that enhances identity

Fundraising Myth and Science

What actually do fundraisers sell? Understanding sales means understand the benefit of what you’re selling. Russell James says the benefit donors get whey they buy want fundraisers sell is an enhanced self-identity.

Choice quote:

“The donor must identify with the story’s characters or values. The story’s characters must be, in some important way, like the donor. The story’s values must be like the donor’s values. This turns a story into the donor’s story.”

See also:

Something’s got to change in fundraising recruitment 

Civil Society (paywall)

We keep recruiting in our own image while bemoaning a lack of talent in fundraising. Something’s got to change, says Damian Chapman.

Choice quote:

“We’re always looking for a proven expert with a background in reaching the impossible while being “innovative, dynamic and forward-thinking”. We’re essentially looking to recruit a unicorn.”

You owe your parents grandkids

Overcoming Bias blog


You have an obligation to your parents (and indeed, all your ancestors) to continue the chain of being, says Robin Hanson.

Choice quote:

“Many people (falsely) think that you can’t have obligations to people who don’t yet exist. Which is why I like to point them to this obligation to their parents, who very much do or did exist.”

Consultants, are you actually making the sector worse? Here are some questions to ask yourselves


If you are a consultant who is trying to make the world better, Vu Le has some questions you can ask yourself when you’re working with clients, to gauge whether you are doing that, or whether you’re getting paid and actually just making things worse.

Choice quote:

“Are you prioritising the survival of the organisation over the effectiveness of the sector? Yes, I know it is the organisation and not the entire sector that hired you and that’s paying for your time, but are you really OK with just helping nonprofits survive in the hunger games, versus working to change systems and thus help bring forth a more equitable world?”

Biases and nudges work differently for different people

The Agitator

Kevin Schulman wonders if the introduction of behavioral science have made matters worsefor fundraisers, not better.

Choice quote:

“Most of the academics and damn near every practitioner reduce behavioral science to ‘nudges’ and crank out guides and workshops and blog posts and powerpoint slides and copy-cat books that repeat the original sin, over and over: that these biases are universal, applying equally to everyone.”

Debates on trust-based philanthropy

Emma Beeston Consultancy

Emma Beeston outlines the arguments in favour of and against (including that it is too US-centric) trust-based philanthropy. 

Choice quote:

“Trust-based philanthropy is certainly fashionable right now. It can be extended to more radical approaches such as participatory grantmaking where it is local people who decide how funds are allocated. However, its basic principles such as making applying for grants easier should not be that controversial.”

How a civil service ‘philanthropy champion’ could unlock charitable giving

Civil Society (paywall)

Pro Bono Economics’ ceo Matt Whittaker discusses how better the government could support philanthropy and why a designated civil servant might help.

Choice quote:

“The philanthropy sector has a role in ensuring that government has access to the right expertise. It could be offering civil servants the opportunity to meet with foundations and philanthropists relevant to their areas.”

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