NEW THINKING: Blog digest – August 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.

Would AI be good or bad for philanthropy? Will AI replace grant-makers?

New Philanthropy Capital

No one is currently suggesting that articical intelligence will replace grantmakers. But, asks Rhodri Davies, is that because grantmaking is immune to the effects, or because we haven’t really thought about it properly yet?

Choice quote:

“Perhaps we could develop a hyper-rational model of philanthropy based on “philgorithms” – algorithms that could replace subjective choices on where to allocate resources with wholly data-driven decisions. In this scenario there might be no further need for human involvement in the process of allocating philanthropic resources.”

What’s the harm in using AI?

Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement

APRA’s resident ethicist points out that artificial intelligence cannot replace the social and contextual intelligence provided by human fundraisers.

Choice quote:

“While many seem eager to adopt artificial intelligence, few people invest time in developing a deeper understanding of what it is, how it works and/or how it can be effectively and appropriately used…AI’s efficacy and benefits are frequently taken at face value, with little being done post-implementation to measure and test these claims.”

The framing debate is tired, but listening to both sides will help create a third way

Third Sector (paywall)

In looking at the negative framing question, critics look only at the downsides. Ian MacQuillin says the positive outcomes have to be factored into decision making too.

Choice quote:

“Reducing complex problems to binary choices (as between positive and negative framing) inevitably means you cut yourself off from the good that the ‘other side’ of the argument might deliver. Perhaps more importantly, you turn a deaf ear to the criticisms the other side may have of your side of the argument – criticisms that might be highly relevant.”

How to be influenced

The Ruffian


Ian Leslie says we need to take control of our influences and explores what we can learn from artists about how to do so.

Choice quote 1:

“It’s easier to outsource your opinions than ever; it feels good, it feels safe, to side with a crowd. There are higher costs to non-conformity, too: online communities assiduously police the boundaries of acceptable thought and behaviour.”

“Man, sometimes it takes a long time to sound like yourself.”
Miles Davis

Choice quote 2:

“Always think about your portfolio of influences and influencers. At work or at school, are you surrounding yourselves with people who will bring out the best in you, stretch your imagination, deepen your empathy, etc? Are your media feeds designed to stimulate, surprise and nourish or just to create anxiety and reinforce bad habits?”

It’s time to stop coddling our donors: How radical transparency makes us stronger

Community-centric Fundraising

Yolie Contreras says that watering down nonprofits’ missions to make the work they do more palatable do donors is doing a disservice to both donor and organisation.

Choice quote:

“Why don’t we trust that our donors want to hear the truth about what it takes to make movements run?…Being honest and truthful about the realities that we work in can only strengthen our connection to our supporters.”

Dear Commissioner

Pro Bono Australia

Krystian Seibert says the yet-to-be-appointed commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission needs to think differently from regulators in other sectors.

Choice quote:

“As a regulator of charities, the organisations through which ‘caritas’ is demonstrated, your role is literally to regulate ‘love in action’ – a rather unique and distinct role for a regulator. It’s quite different to the role of other regulators. Given this unique context, you can’t just take ‘Implementing Regulation 101’ off the bookshelf and start applying the contents. You need to push yourself to think differently, adopting a mindset that reflects your role’s distinctiveness.”

The fundraiser in the universal hero story

Fundraising Myth and Science

In every story about a hero, there is a wise sage who challenges the hero with a choice. Russell James reveals that fundraisers are Obi-Wan Kenobi in disguise. Or Dumbledore. Or maybe Gandalf.

Choice quote:

“Obi-Wan is delivering the classic fundraiser appeal. ‘I need your help.’ ‘She needs your help.’ This is an appeal to make an impact on the larger world. It’s an appeal to go beyond normal, self-focused, everyday life. It’s an appeal to begin a heroic journey. It’s the call to adventure. 

See also:

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