Is the mass acquisition approach to fundraising broken?

I was eager to talk to Samuel Butler for two reasons: first, he is our first guest on the show from the other side of the Atlantic; and second, it was apparent in some of our earlier conversations that the two of us share a similar critique of contemporary fundraising practices. Sam is the Director of Fundraising and Communications at Tibet Relief Fund, a member of the Institute of Fundraising’s Policy Board as well as a member of the Commission on the Donor Experience.

Our conversation began with the question of whether the mass acquisition model of fundraising is broken. We discussed challenges arise when agencies no longer serve a broad range of organizations and instead narrow their focus to organizations that can afford the largest volumes. This tendency will become especially problematic when we consider mass acquisition efforts implemented on a global scale.

We also discussed:

• The recent interrogation of fundraising practices in the United Kingdom is in large part a response the Olive Cooke tragedy in 2015.

• The traditional donor pyramid has become swollen with an overwhelmingly large number of donors who are only contributing at low levels.

• Fundraising practice is complicated by the churn in leadership and strategy that interferes with consistency of thought, purpose and action over a long period of time.

Sam suggested the following links for our listeners who are not familiar with some what we discussed:

Link to Sofii here (which I mentioned): http://sofii.org/
Link to the DEP SIG here: https://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/championing-fundraising/donor-experience/
Link to Charity Slam here: https://www.charityslam.com/ 
Sam's recent blog post @ Charity Slam: https://www.charityslam.com/single-post/2018/10/04/Running-to-Stand-Still

Jason Lewis