Rogare, the new fundraising think tank based at Plymouth University, has announced that its first research project will focus on identifying best practice in how charities build lasting relationships with their donors.
The work sets out to “review and refashion” the concept of relationship fundraising to incorporate new developments in relationship marketing and the latest theories on relationship building from the fields of psychology and social psychology.
The term ‘relationship fundraising’ was coined more than 20 years ago by Ken Burnett, who wrote a book of the same name outlining his ideas about the stewardship of those who donate to charity.
But although since then there has been what Professor Adrian Sargent, director of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at Plymouth where Rogare resides, described as an “explosion of interest” in the topic, there is still “little agreement among practitioners about what relationship fundraising actually is”.
“Fundraisers certainly had a general sense of what it might mean as a guiding philosophy, but no idea of the theories, tools or frameworks that could be guiding their approach, nor the results that might be achieved if they did so,” he said.
The project will start by canvassing the views of senior practitioners on current relationship fundraising techniques and collating evidence and case studies of success. Existing academic and practitioner literature on relationship marketing that might be applied to fundraising will be reviewed, as will the domain of 'relationship management' in psychology and social psychology.
Finally, senior fundraisers will be interviewed for their views on how relationship fundraising might develop in future, and a report will be published in September summarising the learning and outlining future steps.
In the initial stages, Rogare will assemble a panel of around 30 people to contribute their opinions to the project. If you would like to take part, email Rogare's manager Ian Macquillin (pictured) at [email protected] by Friday 23 January.
The project is being funded by two US companies.