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I Am a Critical Fundraiser (expanded)

I am a Critical Fundraiser

I ask many questions because the work I do matters; the decisions I make bear consequences on the mission of my organisation and the impact we seek to have in the world. I take my responsibility as a critical fundraiser to heart.


I never…

  • Rely on someone’s word about what this best practice is (or ought to be), or rely on testimony evidence or arguments from authority. Instead, I satisfy myself by seeking out the evidence and theory for their claim that what they say is true.

  • Copy what others have done, particularly if they say it’s always worked or been done this way, without understanding why it worked for them and what I might need to adapt to make it work for me.

  • Let personal opinions and biases prevail – my own or others’.

  • Make fundraising decisions that have real and tangible consequence without assessing risk, including the risk of maintaining the status quo.


I always…

  • Reflect critically upon my best practices, ethics, and my opinions about the major issues in the fundraising profession.

  • Aim to use best practice in fundraising, practice that is grounded in relevant theory and evidence. I understand that if I fail to do this, and use practices that are sub-optimal, I may be failing both donors and beneficiaries.

  • Take my professional development seriously. I keep what I know about fundraising under review and seek to fill gaps in my knowledge with the best and most robust knowledge from the best sources. I commit to knowing as much as I can about the subject matter of my chosen career.

  • Practise fundraising ethically. That means understanding ethical ideas in fundraising and knowing how to apply these through ethical decision-making frameworks, not simply going with what subjectively ‘feels’ right to me.

  • Challenge what I think is wrong with our profession (in practice, ethics and how the profession is structured and operates), and strengthen the fundraising community by adding to its body of knowledge, seeking out new and diverse perspectives and ideas, and making it a safe and inclusive place to work.

  • Evaluate my sources and seek relevant proof when making an argument.

  • Hold those with whom I disagree to the highest standards of evidence, critique and argument. In doing so, I hold myself to the same standards. The arguments I present will be:

  1. Comprehensible – you will be able to understand my argument and it will make sense to you.

  2. Assessable – you will be able to easily assess the argument I’ve made in a relevant way, against appropriate evidence and theory.

  3. Defeasible – my argument will be constructed in such a way that it is open to revision or rejection based on its comprehension and assessability by others. If I don’t do this, I recognise that I am not really debating or discussing with you but simply trying to win you round to my point of view.

  4. Interest-neutral – my argument doesn’t rest on my own vested interest, but stands on its own two feet.

  5. Compelling – if I’ve crafted an argument using the previous characteristics well, you should be compelled to accept the argument. If you don’t, then I realise I might not have made such a compelling case and will rethink my position.*

  • Challenge assumptions and biases. I approach bold claims with healthy skepticism, even – and especially – my own. I am open to the possibility that I am wrong – or at least, not as right as I think I am – about anything I think I know about and hold dear in fundraising, and am prepared to change my views if other people present compelling arguments about what is best practice or ethical practice. 

I am a Critical Fundraiser

*However, if someone don’t accept my compelling argument, it’s possible that could be less to do with the failure of my argument and more about a reluctance to accept it because it challenges something they don’t want to change their mind about. 

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