How do donors want charities to approach them? That’s the question at the heart of new research by Rogare, a fundraising think tank at Plymouth University Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy in the United Kingdom. Led by Dr. Adrian Sargeant and sponsored by Pursuant and Bloomerang, the comprehensive, four-volume study provides a detailed look at relationship fundraising and the potential benefits it can have for nonprofits.
Relationship fundraising centers on the idea that the same principles that guide relationship-building and maintenance in social psychology can also apply to donor relationships. Essentially, nonprofits that create a sense of identity and build communal relationships with donors will be in a better position than nonprofits that develop transactional relationships.
Among its findings, the study asserts that “total relationship marketing”—a concept from the business world that leverages relationships with stakeholders to develop stronger relationships with customers—could be applied to fundraising. The theory holds that a nonprofit that builds trust with its staff, its board and its fundraising agencies will be better positioned to develop authentic relationships with donors.
This contributes to the oft-mentioned "culture of philanthropy" within an organization. But according to Ian MacQuillin, director of Rogare, it’s not always easy to execute. “The onus is on fundraisers to build these relationships to foster the culture of philanthropy, as it seems unlikely that the impetus will come from elsewhere,” he said.
"It is absolutely essential that relationship fundraising draws on the latest relevant theory to continually refresh and reinvigorate the ways it can deliver the best possible experience for the donor," added MacQuillin.
Download the full report to learn more.