Relationship Fundraising Research Sponsored by Pursuant Reaches First Milestone

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Rogare, the fundraising think tank of Plymouth University, has completed the initial phase of its 2016 relationship fundraising research project with the completion of “Relationship Fundraising: where do we go from here?” the two-volume literature review authored by Ian MacQuillin, Adrian Sergeant, and Jen Shang.



When the opportunity arose to re-examine the principles of relationship fundraising with fresh perspective, Pursuant could not have been more excited to co-sponsor Rogare's discoveries.

Pursuant is pleased to announce that the first phase of the relationship fundraising research conducted by the fundraising think tank, Rogare, has been published. Pursuant, together with Bloomerang, has sponsored the first project to be undertaken by Rogare, Plymouth University’s Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy (CSP).

The research, led by the world’s foremost fundraising academic, Adrian Sergeant, aims to revisit 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. Research of this nature has not been conducted since Ken Burnett first coined the term more than 20 years ago.

Sergeant explained, “When Ken’s book Relationship Fundraising was first published in 1992, the science of relationship marketing had yet to really emerge and database technology was so poor that there were very real limitations on what could realistically be achieved. Fundraising was primarily reliant on direct mail and new digital channels were still only a dream. As a consequence the real utility of the relationship fundraising paradigm had yet to be explored.”

Ross Miller, Chief Operations Officer at Pursuant, explained why Pursuant invested in this research project: “The fundamentals of human relationships have not changed, but in the subsequent two decades technology has made an unprecedented impact on how relationships are formed. When the opportunity arose to re-examine the principles of relationship fundraising with fresh perspective, Pursuant could not have been more excited to co-sponsor Rogare’s discoveries.”

The first portion of the research consists of a two-volume literature review that examines the existing research around relationship marketing and social psychology. The project has six stages:

1) Canvass the views of senior practitioners on the advisory panel on the definition, scope and current success of relationship fundraising techniques.

2) Collate evidence of what is currently considered best practice and collect case studies of success.

3) Conduct a review of the domain of ‘relationship management’ in psychology and social psychology to identify theories, frameworks and ideas that might be used to inform fundraising practice.

4) Conduct a review of the academic and practitioner literature to identify theories, frameworks and ideas from the domain of relationship marketing that might be applied to fundraising.

5) Based on the two literature reviews, assess the views of senior practitioners on the project's advisory panel about the direction that relationship fundraising will take in the future and the challenges it must overcome.

6) Compile a final report that summarizes the learning from steps one to five and outlines the future direction that relationship fundraising might take.

The challenges facing fundraisers today require us to think differently in our approach to a practice that is both an art and a science. How we find, begin, manage, and grow those relationships can seem like an impossible task at times. Compiling the collective expertise of senior practitioners in relationship management and social psychology, this study seeks to join what we’ve always known about the nature of human relationships with fresh insights from the science of how we make decisions.

The two-volume literature review will be available along with the final research in late 2015.

About Rogare

Rogare (Latin for ‘to ask’) is the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy’s fundraising think tank and the home of Critical Fundraising – the discipline of critically evaluating what fundraisers know, or think they know, about their profession.

About Pursuant

The Pursuant Group, based in Dallas, Texas, is a technology-driven, comprehensive fundraising agency serving the world's leading nonprofit organizations across the entire donor pyramid. Since 2001, Pursuant has helped thousands of organizations raise billions of dollars. Pursuant partners with health and human service organizations, educational institutions, athletic programs, hospitals, faith-based organizations, and churches to impact lives through intelligent data, proven strategies, and award-winning creative to grow and sustain revenue.

About Bloomerang

Indianapolis-based Bloomerang is a cloud-based donor management software tool designed to help small and mid-size nonprofits reach, engage and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world.

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Hilary Sutton
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