What are ‘unpopular causes’ and how can they achieve fundraising success?

Journal article


Body, A. and Breeze, B. 2016. What are ‘unpopular causes’ and how can they achieve fundraising success? International Journal for Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Marketing. 21 (1), pp. 57-70. https://doi.org/10.1002/nvsm.1547
AuthorsBody, A. and Breeze, B.
Abstract

Recent efforts to grow and strengthen the culture of philanthropy in the UK have largely focused on two dimensions: the total amount of money donated and the effectiveness of philanthropic spending. This paper explores a third dimension: the destination and distribution of donations. A defining characteristic of charitable giving is that it is voluntary rather than coerced, and the resulting respect for donor autonomy makes people wary of promoting one cause above another or implying that any beneficiary group is more or less ‘worthy’ of support. However, the absence of much comment on, or significant research into, the destination of donations does not alter the fact that some groups succeed in attracting significant philanthropic funds whilst others struggle to secure many – or any – donations. This paper explores the concept of ‘unpopularity’ in the charity sector, especially in relation to its impact on fundraising. We unpack what this loaded phrase means, identify good practice by those seeking support and present case studies of charities that have overcome perceived unpopularity to achieve success in raising voluntary income. We suggest that by investing organisational resources and effort in fundraising, by framing the cause to maximise the arousal of sympathy and minimise concerns about beneficiary culpability, and by avoiding the unintended negative consequences of self-labelling as ‘unpopular’ no charity need assume it is their destiny to languish at the bottom of the fundraising league tables.

KeywordsFundraising; philanthropy; unpopular causes
Year2016
JournalInternational Journal for Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Marketing
Journal citation21 (1), pp. 57-70
PublisherWiley
ISSN1479-103X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1002/nvsm.1547
Publication dates
Online27 Jan 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Oct 2016
Accepted26 Nov 2015
Output statusPublished
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