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Disintermediated giving and asking

Disintermediated giving happens when people give directly to recipients/beneficiaries instead of giving to a charity or other nonprofit organisation. Charities have therefore been ‘disintermediated’ from (cut out of) the giving transaction.

Disintermediation is something that is well understood in a business context, where it was first developed – for example, booking a holiday directly with a property’s owner without going through a travel agent. In a business context, disintermediation is understood to happen digitally.

It is less well understood in the charity/fundraising context, where it is mostly conceived of as various forms of crowdfunding.

But not only are there many other ways that charities can be disintermediated from the giving process; there are also other areas from which charities can be disintermediated. For example, charities/NPOs can be cut out of both service provision and fundraising.

Disintermediation also raises ethical and regulatory issues that have barely begun to be researched.

The aim of this Rogare project – on which Kingston University Business School is partnering us – is to provide a better and more robust conceptualisation of what disintermediation means in the charity sector. We have set out to answer these four questions:

  1. What is disintermediation/disintermediated giving? What categorisations/definitions are needed?

  2. What do we know about it; what don’t we know – where are the knowledge gaps?

  3. What challenges, particularly ethical ones, are thrown up by disintermediation of giving and asking, and how can we meet/overcome them?

  4. How can charities make disintermediated giving work for/with them? 


The first step – answering question 1 and shining a light on questions 2 and 3 – has been to devise a new typology of disintermediation in the charity sector, which has been published in the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing

You can see a graphical version of the typology on this page. For an overview, check out our news item on Critical Fundraising. For a full understanding, including how it points to unexamined regulatory and ethical issues, see the JPM paper. We’ll be turning this into a shorter Rogare paper shortly.

Disintermediation typology.png
Typology paper .png

We’ll be developing this project throughout 2024, by revising and extending the typology (if it needs it) and considering other ways that disintermediation can take place in the charity sector. Our ultimate aim is to look at how charities can reintermediate themselves in the giving processes they haver been cut out of, and whether it would be appropriate to do so.

We are planning to devote our annual Northern Spring symposium at Kingston University in May 2024 to the topic of disintermediated giving.

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More information

  • ‘A new typology of disintermediated giving’ in the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing (open access).

  • ERNOP (European Research Network on Philanthropy) research note on the typology, summarising the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing paper.

  • News item on Critical Fundraising giving an overview of the typology.

  • Ian MacQuillin's article in Alliance magazine

  • Rita Kottasz talks about the typology to Rhodri Davies on the Why Philanthropy Matters podcast.

Disintermediation project team

  • Neil Gallaiford – ST (Stephen Thomas Ltd) (Canada)

  • Tum Kazunga – Build It International (UK)

  • Rita Kottasz – Kingston Business School, Kingston University (UK)

  • Juniper Locilento – National Arts Centre (Canada)

  • Ian MacQuillin ­– Rogare – The Fundraising Think Tank (UK)

  • Meredith Niles – SOFII (UK)

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