Giving Hope: The Journey of the For-Purpose Organisation and Its Quest for Success
Giving Hope brings together inductive concepts of business research with the deductive models of academic research to present best practices in fundraising.
Peter Dalton and Robinson Roe’s guide for fundraisers focuses on the concepts of emotional fundraising, lifetime value and the donor pyramid. It includes case studies of Plan International, Mater Foundation, and Oxfam Australia.
Giving Hope reviews how for-purpose organisations are structured, measure themselves and communicate with their beneficiaries. The book marries concepts of business research with an academic tone to showcase best practice in fundraising. It is not an easy read but is definitely worth the effort.
In their book, Dalton and Roe examine emotional fundraising, lifetime value and the donor pyramid and how they fit with organisational leadership and development. They argue that many organisations are set up to fail, even if the organisation has a good understanding of fundraising. They say many organisations have the wrong structure and learning culture to enable fundraising to thrive.
To illustrate, the authors focus on three successful fundraising organisations as case studies: Plan International Australia, Mater Foundation and Oxfam Australia. Roe and Dalton highlight several dilemmas faced by these organisations, how they dealt with them, and the practical solutions the organisations applied successfully.
The fundraising dilemmas these organisations faced are typical for most charitable organisations and include:
- staff turnover
- cost ratios
- tied funding
- the product or hope/ misery dilemma
- crowded market
- pecking order challenge.
As a reader, I was excited about how these issues were addressed by the authors. For example, one problem I was particularly interested in, which most organisations face, is created by the so-called ‘silo effect.’
Organisations are typically structured around a production model which dates back to the 18th century. In for-purpose organisations, this is reflected in teams which are divided into departments and divisions around fundraising functions, such as major gifts, direct marketing, gifts in wills, etc. The result is short-term KPIs and measurements which are not about the mission and effective outcomes but about money and efficiencies.
In their book, Roe and Dalton discuss an alternative path for successful fundraising which is mission-driven and outcomes-based and is reflected in significant studies undertaken in the commercial sector. The authors correctly note that fundraising demands more than just dreaming up the next ‘ice bucket challenge’ or organising yet another gala ball, and suggest organisations seek to produce the right mix of fundraising activities and a better organisational approach to succeed.
As I read the book, I found myself underlining many vital points that struck a nerve with me,
like the following:
“Having to compete for more and more Donors, and striving to reach ever-increasing fundraising targets leads many For-Purpose Organisations to fundraise in ways Donors dislike, which is counterproductive to building
sustainable DLV (Donor Lifetime Value).
“When ‘competing’ for the philanthropic dollar, the most competitive For-Purpose Organisations are those with end-to-end framing around giving Donors hope. And they stay competitive by using DLV to measure
how effective they are at ‘placing the Donor at the centre of fundraising’.” Pg. 148.
In fact, I kept saying ‘amen’ many times throughout Giving Hope because what makes this book so exciting is that the authors provide solutions and not just the dilemmas, through those practical case studies.
Importantly, Giving Hope provides a real-world plan for leaders in charitable organisations to create more engaged, collaborative and productive teams, which break down silos and deliver more significant outcomes for their organisations’ missions.
I highly recommend Giving Hope as essential reading for anyone serious about organisational leadership and the integration of fundraising within a for-purpose organisation.
Past Chairman of the Fundraising Institute Australia board, former member of the CFRE board and former chair of the CFRE Exam Committee. In 2013 Leo was named the FIA Arthur Venn Fundraiser of the Year, a national award given by the FIA which recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to fundraising in Australia.
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