The current landscape of fundraising practice

Authored by: Richard D. Waters

The Routledge Companion to Philanthropy

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415783255
eBook ISBN: 9781315740324
Adobe ISBN: 9781317579717


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The practice of fundraising – contrary to the popular perception that it is focused on solicitations – is actually centred on the creation and cultivation of relationships. The professional practice literature on fundraising has frequent references to ‘relationship building’ (Nudd, 1991: 175), ‘friend raising’ (Mann, 2007: 43), and ‘philanthropic partnerships’ (Sagawa, 2001: 201) rather than centred strictly on asking for donations. Indeed, Greenfield (1991) calls fundraising a unique form of communication that is based on social scientific principles that produce healthy relationships between a nonprofit and its donors. Kelly (1998) echoes this by defining fundraising as ‘the management function of relationships between a charitable organization and its donor publics’ (1998: 8). This definition sets the tone for this chapter, where it is argued that fundraising is not a marketing function; it is a carefully developed communication process that aims to create mutually beneficial relationships. Unlike marketing, there is no quid pro quo relationship where an exchange results in both parties receiving a tangible asset. In fundraising, rarely does an interaction result in a donor receiving a product in exchange for a donation. Hibbert (Chapter 6), developing this communication theme and overarching purpose, with its impliciations for philanthropy across its range of forms, emphasizes the prime need to generate a sound and contemporary evidence-base on the features of such communications that both attract donors and help charities respond to dynamic environments. This chapter delves further into those aspects of fundraising communications which are especially salient for fundraising knowledge and practice: the continuing requirement to communicate the specific and overall societal value of people giving up their private resources for the public good (Pharoah, Chapter 4).

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