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Fundraisers and the Mediated Gift: Investigating the role of fundraising in gift giving to non-profit organisations

Alborough, Lesley (2019) Fundraisers and the Mediated Gift: Investigating the role of fundraising in gift giving to non-profit organisations. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,.

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Abstract

This thesis considers how professional fundraisers facilitate gift giving to non-profit organisations. It argues that fundraising practices are misconceived in the public eye and the extant literature in the field, in which philanthropic giving is investigated with the aim of predicting the main drivers of giving and identifying the most favourable fundraising techniques to encourage such behaviour. Givers are investigated as if their giving stems entirely from their subjective moral identities and social experiences, which need only to be triggered by a direct solicitation. Asking is, thus, presented as a step that is simply present or not in the mix of elements which prompt an individual to make charitable gifts. However, whilst this explains why individuals choose to give, they do little to explain how or why donors choose to enter into long-term, repeat giving partnerships with charities. This is exacerbated by a lack of empirical investigation into the actual workings of the fundraising process within organisations and even less on who takes responsibility for fundraising. In order to address these issues, the day-to-day practice of fundraisers is analysed from a perspective that draws on the theories of the gift proposed by Mauss ([1954]2011) and Titmuss (1973). The research draws on qualitative data from interviews with fundraisers and their colleagues across 14 non-profit organisations, complemented by a secondary analysis of donors' descriptions of their giving from previous studies of donor behaviour. Findings suggest that fundraising is best analysed as part of a social relation, in which the ask is embedded in ongoing interactions rather than a one-off trigger of a giver's altruistic tendencies. The primary gift giving relationship is found to exist not between the giver and beneficiary, but rather the giver and fundraiser. In the absence of direct natural social relationships between giver and distant beneficiary, fundraisers attempt to mimic such social relations by employing tactics of reciprocity to secure both new and ongoing gifts. In doing so fundraisers divert rather than remove the obligations inherent in these reciprocal gift exchanges. Such findings reveal a far broader impact for fundraising on wider charitable and philanthropic practice than merely generating income. Building on the strength of these findings, this thesis offers a more nuanced and complex conceptualisation of contemporary gifting to strangers via organisations - that of the mediated gift.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Sanghera, Dr Balihar
Thesis advisor: Breeze, Dr Beth
Thesis advisor: Taylor-Gooby, Professor Peter
Uncontrolled keywords: Fundraising Philanthropy Nonprofits The Gift Emotional Labour Social Skill
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2019 09:10 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2019 09:38 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/73302 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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