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

Body, Alison, Breeze, Beth (2016) What are 'unpopular causes' and how can they achieve fundraising success? International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 21 (1). pp. 57-70. ISSN 1465-4520. E-ISSN 1479-103X. (doi:10.1002/nvsm.1547) (KAR id:53892)

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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.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/nvsm.1547
Uncontrolled keywords: fundraising, charity, philanthropy, voluntary sector, unpopular causes
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV40 Charities
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV27 Philanthropists
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Beth Breeze
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2016 14:14 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 12:20 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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