Donor focused fundraisers need to take on board “white saviourism” concerns, says think tank

Fundraisers need to take on board criticism to ensure they can “reinvent” their profession and ensure they are being “ethically conscious of the needs of all stakeholders”, a charity think tank is arguing.

The discussion has been raised in a research paper by think tank Rogare, called The donor-centered baby and the community centric bathwater.

The paper looks at the potential conflict within the fundraising profession between traditional donor-centered fundraising and emerging community centric fundraising (CCF).

While donor-centered fundraising aims to inspire donors by making them feel good about their giving, community centric fundraising looks at whole community fundraising, not just individual organisations with a focus on interdependence and equity.

According to Rogare the potential conflict within fundraising can arise from community centric fundraisers’ criticism that donor focused fundraising can marginalise charity beneficiaries.

Another criticism leveled at donor centred fundraising is that is “perpetuates white saviourism and fuels systematic injustice”.

Rogers’s paper argues that donor-centered fundraising needs to “take on board these challenges and use them as an opportunity to reinvent itself in ways that connect donors to causes whole being ethically conscious of the needs of all stakeholders”.

The think tank’s director Ian MacQuillin said: “For many fundraisers, being donor-centred is more than just the communications practice they use; it is their professional identity – they are donor-centred fundraisers.

“So the challenges presented by CCF are not a technical discussion about professional procedure; they are perceived as an assault on the core principles of the people who use those procedures, and go directly to the heart of how they see and define themselves. No wonder so many have reacted so defensively to the CCF movement.

“However, there is sufficient common ground between the two philosophies to enable a dialectic that could result in new ethical and practical approaches to fundraising.

“Rather than being an existential challenge to donor-centred fundraising that is sounding is death-knell, community-centric fundraising may actually provide the impetus and incentive for donor-centred fundraising to reinvent itself.”

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