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Reviews of Relationship Fundraising

From Philanthropy UK magazine, UK
‘...this classic guide to fundraising is probably the most widely read amongst UK fundraisers.’

In The Compleat Professional’s Library, Contributions Magazine, USA, Jerry Cianciolo wrote

‘Not since Harold Seymour’s classic, Designs for Fund Raising, has a book of this magnitude come along.

‘Ken Burnett’s updated and expanded work, just may be the book to which fundraising professionals turn for the next several decades.

‘It is as brilliant as it is heartfelt, as simple as it is eloquent.

‘The book masterfully sweeps away all the clutter of fundraising, all the techniques and formulas and hoary truths, and challenges our fundamental assumptions on how best to connect donors with causes.

‘Coined by Burnett in 1992, Relationship Fundraising advocates a return to the intimacy of the one-to-one relationship between donor and cause but, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, it makes that intimacy possible on a national scale for thousands, even millions, of people at the same time.

‘But Relationship Fundraising is not just about raising funds. “It is an approach to the marketing of a cause that centres on the special relationship between a nonprofit and each supporter. Its overriding consideration is to care for and develop that bond and to do nothing that might damage or jeopardise it. Every activity is therefore geared towards making sure donors know they are important, valued, and considered, which has the secondary effect of maximising funds per donor in the long run.”

‘According to Burnett – and who would dispute him on this – donors are generally distressed to see blatant commercialism from the organisations they support. “They often resent the repeated process of being asked for money with precious little offered in return. They dislike being written to by a marketing machine and regard the transparent techniques of direct mail and telephone appeals as a sort of con game.”

‘While in recent years fundraisers have been “vigorously extending and upgrading their transactions with donors – their customers – they should have been moving away from a transaction orientation and moving towards a relationship orientation.”

‘It is time, says Burnett, for us to look beyond the profiled categories, the focus-group assumptions, the characterisations of baby boomers and busters, and focus on what is the key to success in fundraising. “Our business is donor development,” he says, “and that is only possible through the formation of a tangible relationship. As donors, by and large, are honest and intelligent people it is a process that can only be done with honesty and intelligence.”

‘Burnett advocates nothing less than a total change in philosophy. And, yet, how revolutionary is his summons to relate to donors with your heart and mind? Plenty, it seems, judging from the minutiae and hair-splitting techniques (blue ink or black ink, teaser copy or no) that command attention today.

Relationship Fundraising is a towering achievement, a remarkable work that with crystalline clarity and heartfelt emotion defines how money can and should be raised for the foreseeable future.’

In Professional Fundraising, Simon Collings, chief executive, The Resource Alliance, UK said

Relationship Fundraising was first published in 1992 and it was in many ways a book ahead of its time. I remember reading it when it came out and being inspired by its simple truths. It is a book I have recommended to many people and the well-thumbed copy on my office shelf has been consulted by many of my colleagues over the years. The second edition, just issued, has undergone extensive revision and updating though its core message remains the same…

‘…Fundraising has changed a great deal in the last 10 years. Back in 1992 Ken was warning about the dangers of growth in generic direct mail appeals. Volumes of charity mail have grown hugely since then and much of it looks indistinguishable from the next piece. Targeting has led to a group of the population being mailed to a point where charity appeals have become a nuisance. Even information mailings to existing supporters may go unopened because supporters think it is just another appeal.

‘Yet the growth in the number and size of databases, and the advances in technology, create the possibility of charities tailoring communications to the different needs and interests of supporter groups. Email and the internet in particular provide a relatively inexpensive, interactive medium, which opens up many possibilities for enhancing the donor’s experience.

Relationship Fundraising is full of insights and suggestions about how to create the experience of a one-on-one relationship for the donor using the full range of tools available to the contemporary fundraiser.

‘The book ends with some salutary reflections on the dangers ahead if we as fundraisers don’t respect the donor. Short-termism, over reliance on technique and lack of innovation could erode trust and confidence. It’s up to us to ensure they don’t.’