- Third paper in Rogare series that translates recent academic study into practice
- Looks at how fundraisers can help donors create value in their own fundraising
- Recommends that fundraisers should be trained to coach and mentor donors to create more value when they conduct their own community fundraising activities
The fundraising think tank Rogare has published the latest in its series of ‘praxis papers’. ‘Praxis’ means turning theory into action, and Rogare praxis papers showcase research recently completed by a fundraising practitioner for their PhD or Master’s degree, with recommendations about how fundraisers can apply this research in practice.
The third paper in the series – ‘Value creation and the role of the donor in supporter-led fundraising’ – is written by Katie Mitchell, head of supporter engagement at British mental health charity Mind. It summarises the work she did for her Master’s in Business Administration at Aston University, in which she considered how services marketing theory can be applied in fundraising.
There are obvious differences between the services delivered by charities to donors than with services provided by businesses to customers. But Katie maintains there are enough similarities for strategies developed in the commercial sector to be deployed by charities to improve donors’ experiences, increase satisfaction, drive trust and improve the chances of donors carrying on giving.
The key part of Katie’s thesis is that fundraisers can help donors to create their own value in how they conduct their own fundraising efforts, particularly community fundraising.
The paper can be downloaded from the praxis paper section of the Rogare website.
Katie Mitchell says:
“The aim of my research was to understand whether and how services marketing strategies developed in the for-profit context can be used by nonprofit organisations to improve the donor experience for individual donors, increase donor satisfaction and therefore drive loyalty and increase the likelihood that donors will give again in future.
“Fundraisers perceived the role of the donor as an active participant in the creation of value, and not a passive recipient of communications or services.
“This is important because it means recognising that value creation happens beyond the control of the fundraiser and away from our interactions with the supporter. A skillset that includes coaching and empowering supporters to create value is therefore vital to the donor experience. The role of the fundraiser in empowering supporters maximises their contribution to the creation of value during their interactions with the donor.”
The way fundraisers help donors might be in the form of practical advice for the supporter to organise their fundraising, demonstrating the impact of their donation, or by building a relationship with the donor in a way that helps them feel part of a team or wider movement of people.
Dr Claire Routley, the editor of the Rogare paper series, says:
“The reason that Rogare exists is to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and professional practice, and one of the best ways we can do that is by providing a showcase for the knowledge the fundraising practitioners have co-created in an academic setting.
“Relationship fundraising is a totally intuitive idea but it is only relatively recently that we have begun to see scholars and practitioners build the theory that underpins this. Katie’s Masters research has taken ideas established in the commercial sector and, rather try to shoehorn nonprofit practice into them, she’s adapted them to the charity context.
“As ever with our praxis papers, the aim is not that fundraisers copy or blindly implement the recommendations they find here, but to critically reflect upon how they can adapt these ideas to their own practice in their own contexts.”
Traffic light system for recommendations
This third paper continues the traffic light system for recommendations introduced in the second paper in 2022:
Green The recommendation is supported by a body of evidence. The author tested this in their research or it builds on/incorporates other research where this recommendation was tested.
Amber The recommendation is strongly implied by the research and the theory behind it, even though the author might not have tested this idea. In this case, we could recommend that practitioners could try this out, for example, in split tests.
Red The recommendation is highly speculative, perhaps because it’s come from a discipline outside of fundraising but has never been tested in a fundraising context, or it is a stretch of the theory to get to this recommendation.
Turn your research into a Rogare praxis paper
Katie’s paper joins our growing series of praxis papers, sitting alongside Dr Lucy Lowthian’s exploration of the psychological well-being factors driving legacy gifts (from 2021) and last year’s look into how charities can overcome donors’ ‘silent resistance’ to engage them in taboo social problems, by David Harrison.
We’re now looking for the fourth paper for this series. If you have research you would like to turn into a paper in this series, please submit your idea via our website here – https://www.rogare.net/praxis-papers.
Anyone interested in turning their research into a Rogare praxis paper should reach out to Claire Routley via LinkedIn or submit the contact form on the Rogare website – https://www.rogare.net/praxis-papers.
We are able to make this new praxis paper – along with all of Rogare’s reports and other outputs – freely available to the fundraising profession thanks to the ongoing generous support of our Associate Members: Bluefrog, ST (Stephen Thomas Ltd), Ask Direct, GoalBusters and Giving Architects.