NEWS: From CSW (Charles Sumner Ward) to CCF – fundraising since 1900

Details about the first charity greetings card* (1949), first charity rock concert* (1969) and first fundraising telethon* (1951) are among the entries on a timeline of fundraising history from 1900 to the present day, unveiled today by Rogare – The Fundraising Think tank.

The earliest entry on the timeline is a short overview of the work of American fundraising pioneer Charles Sumner Ward (covering the period 1900-1920). The latest is the formation of the Community-Centric Fundraising movement in 2019.

You can view the timeline here.

This timeline is the first of a series that will emerge from Rogare’s project on the history of fundraising, which is led by Marina Jones. Others will cover the period from 1500-1899, the Middle Ages, and antiquity, along with thematic timelines for the following categories:

  • Fundraising first or early example
  • Notable historical example of fundraising
  • Notable fundraising failure
  • Emergence of a fundraising concept or idea
  • Milestone publication
  • Fundraising professionalisation
  • Controversy/scandals/hostile media ­
  • Legislation/regulation/governance
  • Societal/cultural ideas and shifts 
  • Notable historical person or contribution.

Our rationale for building these timelines is not just so people can see the order in which things happened, and maybe be a bit surprised that some things happened earlier than they realised.

The timelines contain entries that we think will help us to better understand  the factors that have shaped our profession, which will, we hope, give us a better insight into how to make fundraising even better.

​Two of our main areas of interest are the social and cultural histories of fundraising, topics that are vastly under-explored (as are many areas of fundraising history), and so the timelines are tilted more in that direction than simply providing a chronological list of campaigns and appeals. When these are included in a timeline, it’s because they have real historical significance and enhance our understanding of how we use them today.

​We might well be wrong what we’ve chosen to include in the timeline, particularly if we claim somethings as a ‘first’. We may have left out other things which are culturally/socially important. We don’t for a moment claim this timeline is definitive. In fact, the gaps may be just as important as the inclusions, allowing us to see what is not covered by current studies of fundraising history.

Each of the timelines we publish will be edited down from a ‘master’ timeline – that contains everything the projected team has submitted – to represent only those events we feel are most historically significant.

In due course, we’ll be making this ‘master’ timeline (which currently contains 282 entries dating back to 1500BCE) available on our website as a raw resource for students of fundraising history, as well as providing a mechanism whereby people can submit events to be included, along with guidance about how to do that.

To find out more about Rogare’s project on the history and historiography (the study of history) of fundraising, check our our website here (where you can download our paper, One Damned Ask After Another) and this previous Critical Fundraising blog.

* That we know of; we could be wrong.

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