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Rogare announces new project exploring how to study the history of fundraising


Fundraising thinktank Rogare launches a new project today, on the history of fundraising.

More accurately, it says, the project is about the historiography of fundraising – looking at how fundraising ought to be studied, the questions about the history of fundraising that ought be explored, and the historical research techniques and approaches that should be adopted in doing so.

The project launches with a paper, One Damn Ask After Another – How Should We Study the History of Fundraising, which states that there are only a handful of book chapters and papers that consider the history of fundraising, many of which it says, take ‘a rather superficial approach, where historical facts are attributed to the actions of a few remarkable people (usually men)’.

However, it points out, there are alternative social, cultural and economic lenses through which to study history, and recommends these approaches to explore a series of research questions to shed new light on the past, present and future of the profession.

Research questions already identified in the paper include:

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 in the past 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’? 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 or study group, on a social media platform yet to be decided, with teams to explore each of these research questions, and other research areas as and when they arise.

Initially Rogare has assembled a team of fundraisers to get the project up and running, many of whom have studied history and are versed in historical research methods, with the project 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.

The team will be looking to expand the people engaged with this project, particularly as it starts to add and explore various research questions, so anyone who would like to be a part of this project, is invited to reach out to Boyd on LinkedIn. Alternatively, she can be reached by emailing Ian MacQuillin at Rogare at ianmacquillin@rogare.net.

Boyd said:

“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 invite you to contribute your thoughts and ideas to this project, which I am delighted to lead. 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.”

More information about the project, as well as the paper One Damn Ask After Another, can be found on the Rogare website.

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