Donor-centred fundraising (DCF) is the dominant philosophy of practice in the fundraising profession, in the English-speaking world and beyond. But it’s core principles have been challenged by the rise of the new community-centric fundraising (CCF) movement – inspired by the ideas of American thought leader Vu Le.
While donor-centred fundraising aims to inspire donors by making them feel good about their giving, the CCF movement has argued that this has several negative outcomes, including that it marginalises and ‘others’ charity beneficiaries, perpetuates white saviourism and fuels systematic injustice.
These are criticisms of the core principles and tenets of donor-centred fundraising, and go the heart of how donor-centred fundraisers see their own professional self-identity.
Rogare has produced a green (discussion) that aims to unpick the issues at play in the clash of philosophies and explore whether there is sufficient common ground between them to strike an accord.
Our conclusion is that there is enough common ground, but it is up to each side whether they wish to compromise to reach a consensus.
Irrespective of whether the CCF movement wishes to reach an accord with DCF, many of its criticisms of donorcentricity are nonetheless valid, and donor-centred fundraisers ought to take them seriously.
Rather than being a threat to donor-centred fundraising, the challenges presented by CCF could actually provide the foundations upon on which DCF can reinvent itself.
Two possible new directions for donor-centred fundraising are:
Integrated or integrative fundraising (IFR)
Total relationship fundraising (TRF)
Integrated/integrative fundraising (IFR) would integrate donors into beneficiary-focused organisations by connecting beneficiaries with the donors who can help them. Such an approach could lead to more meaningful relationships with donors in which fundraisers could have the “tough conversations” with donors about their giving choices that CCF calls for.
Total relationship fundraising (TRF) would seek to build relationships with all stakeholders across the community who may be affected by fundraisers’ actions and decisions, relationships that would be grounded in an ethical consciousness of those stakeholders: consciousness of their race, their gender, their economic circumstances.
Rogare is also exploring at other possible reinventions of relationship fundraising in our Beyond RF project.
Rogare's director Ian MacQuillin discusses the issues raised by community-centric fundraising with Andrew Watt and Betsy Chapin Taylor in a webinar hosted by Accordant Health. Starts at 6'57".