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A new Narrative for Canadian fundraising

Building on our initial ideas about ideological attitudes, Rogare worked with the Association of
Fundraising Professionals in Canada to develop a new ‘Narrative’ for Canadian fundraising that can
be used to better engage with people who object to the way modern fundraising is professionally
carried out.

When faced with objections to things such as overhead and salary costs, many attempts to respond
to such criticisms do so by trying to ‘educate’ people with facts. Such approaches are saying:

  • What is it about fundraising/charities that people don’t like and how can we get them to change their minds about that?

But if people have a set of principled, ideological beliefs about how charities ought to be run – for example, they genuinely believe that a charity should never spend more than a certain proportion of donations on overheads – factual information won’t shift them from that belief.

So a more ‘ideological’ approach is needed, something that asks:

  • What about fundraising/charities do we value, and can we get other people to value those things too?

This is what the Canadian Fundraising Narrative aims to do.

It is based around ‘Professionalist’ ideas about how charities ought to operate – which is a counter the to Voluntarist ideology that contains tenets such as all money should go to the cause and people will give without needing to be asked – combined with Rights Balancing Fundraising Ethics, both of which have been developed at Rogare.

The Narrative and its key messages – along with a white paper produced for AFP Canada that examines the regulatory/legislative, media and socio-cultural context for it – was delivered in the summer of  2019, and is now in use with AFP Canada for its media and government relations, and for fundraisers to engage with their boards and ceos about the need for professional practice and in discussions with donors. AFP Canada has also specially trained a cohort of ‘advocates’ in the Narrative’s use.

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  • More details about how background to the Narrative and how it has been used can be found on AFP Canada’s website.

  • Ian MacQuillin's blog about the Canadian Narrative on Critical Fundraising.

  • Vincent Duckworth discusses the Canadian Narrative on ViTreo’s BrainTrust Philanthropy podcast with Ian MacQuillin, Paula Attfield and Scott Decksheimer.

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  • Juniper Locilento using the Narrative as she addresses the Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector.

  • Podcast (Simon Scriver's podcast) featuring Juniper Locilento – a member the AFP Canada Narrative working group – discussing the Narrative).

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