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Lost in translation: A sociological study of the role of fundraisers in mediating gift giving in non-profit organisations

Alborough, Lesley (2017) Lost in translation: A sociological study of the role of fundraisers in mediating gift giving in non-profit organisations. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 22 (4). e1602. ISSN 1465-4520. (doi:10.1002/nvsm.1602) (KAR id:65185)

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Recent years have seen a significant growth in the technical literature exploring charitable giving and fundraising. However, there is little empirical research on the actual workings of the fundraising process within non-profit organisations. In this paper, the day-to-day practice of fundraising is analysed from a sociological perspective that draws on the theories of the gift proposed by Mauss (1954), Titmuss (1970), and colleagues to propose an alternative, more complex giving model to strangers. Using qualitative data drawn from 44 interviews with fundraisers and their colleagues across 14 organisations, this study examines how fundraisers build and maintain long-term giving relationships with the individuals who provide financial support to non-profit organisations. Findings suggest that the primary gift giving relationship exists not between the giver and beneficiary but rather between the giver and fundraiser. The fundraiser, in this instance, actively employs tactics of reciprocity to both secure new gifts and ensure that givers continue to support their organisation. In doing so, fundraisers construct a narrative of the donor's imagined direct connection to the beneficiary and their “good gift”. Simultaneously, the fundraiser works with colleagues to construct the idea of the caring, connected, and sacrificial donor as a means to solicit their support in maintaining the continued gifting from these supporters. The paper concludes with a consideration of the ways in which these narrative constructions are incorporated into fundraising and organisational strategies; and two implications for perceptions of the role of philanthropy and fundraising.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/nvsm.1602
Uncontrolled keywords: Fundraising; Giving; Gift exchange; Donors; Relationships
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: L.J. Alborough
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2017 10:11 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:51 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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