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Fundraising think tank Rogare has launched a project to explore the history of fundraising, aiming to shed new light on the past, present and future of the profession. The project seeks not only to compile a historical record of fundraising, but to explore how the history of fundraising is studied and written (the historiography), examining how different ways to think about the actual history of fundraising can offer different insights.
In the paper ‘One Damn Ask After Another – How Should We Study the History of Fundraising‘, Rogare points out that while there are many histories of philanthropy, there are only a handful of book chapters and papers that consider the history of fundraising. The paper highlights that many of these take a superficial approach, adopting the so-called ‘great man’ view of history, where historical facts are attributed to the actions of a few remarkable people (usually men). However, there are alternative social, cultural and economic lenses through which to study history.
The project is led by Rhyannon Boyd, head of fundraising of the Forever Friends Appeal at Bath NHS Foundation Trust, and a history graduate of the University of York. She says: “When we study the historiography of fundraising, we must proactively seek out and critically analyse sources and interpretations to give us context, voices and stories of those not traditionally heard through the ‘Great Man’ approach or a simple chronology of events. How we study the history of fundraising enables us to examine and critically question the cultural, political, social and economic influences across time that have formed the narratives around how our profession has developed and what we believe to be true.
“I very much hope that by shining a light on the historical analysis of fundraising that fundraisers now and in the future can better understand the errors of the past and shape future success.”
The project will explore a range of issues, including:
– The so-called ‘social problem’ of fundraising (a term used by Beth Breeze in her 2017 book The New Fundraisers) – how and why fundraising has caused so much unease with the public going back decades and perhaps even centuries, and what is the media’s role in addressing, solving or exacerbating the ‘social problem of fundraising’.
– Why do so many people fall into fundraising by ‘accident’?
– What is the role of women in the development of the profession/organisation of fundraising
– Decolonisation of fundraising
– Histories of particular types of fundraising
– National fundraising histories, particularly in non-English speaking countries.
The project will be run as a discussion group or study group, with teams to explore each of these research questions, and other research areas as and when they arise. While a core team of fundraisers have been appointed to work on this project, anyone with an interest in contributing to the project is encouraged to contact Rhyannon Boyd on LinkedIn or via Ian MacQuillin at Rogare.
See more about the Rogare history of fundraising project at Rogare.net/fundraising.
Rogare launches new Knowledge Collectives
Rogare has announced the launch of a series of ‘Knowledge Collectives‘ that are designed to help fundraisers find the best theory and evidence to inform their professional practice. These collectives are composed of international representatives – members of Rogare’s Critical Fundraising (CFR) Network who have a keen and specialist interest in the subject matter. Each collective has a project leader and a core team to deliver its main roles. The first two collectives will focus on legacy and corporate fundraising, with three more likely to launch by the end of the year. Find out more, including how to contribute to one of the working groups, via Rogare’s website.
*This article was updated on 21st May to include the new Knowledge Collectives.