Rogare (5/2015)

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All fundraisers are talking about overheads. But how relevant are they really? Which donors are how strongly influenced by them? For which philanthropic purposes do they play a major role in the donation decision, where not? All fundraisers are aiming at religious donors. But how relevant is the influence of religiosity really? How does the willingness to donate depend on the kind of religion? And which religion is most likely to donate for which purposes?

All fundraisers do relationship fundraising. But everyone builds up his relations his own way. Insights from psychology, sociology or marketing theory, scientific studies of motives, processes and factors of relationships of different types and between different actors are rarely consulted or considered.

There are answers to all these questions. Only nobody knows them. They hide in university libraries, academic databases and on occasional scientific seminars. They lie fallow in international philanthropy research (constantly overlooked by fundraisers), but also in completely different scientific disciplines.

Scientists and fundraiser rarely come across each other. And that’s too bad! Because it leaves not only many questions unanswered, many questions are not asked in the first place. Scientists of philanthropy and NPO research often do not know what the fundraiser “on the road” is concerned about, for which questions they would like to have answers.

Hence, some time ago the fundraising think tank Rogare was founded at one of the leading research institutes for Philanthropy worldwide, the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at the University of Plymouth (UK). Rogare is Latin and means “to bring” and “to ask”. And that’s what does Rogare. under the direction of Ian MacQuillin it brings together scientists and fundraisers from all over the world. And it asks the right questions – to the scientists and to the fundraisers.

The declared aim of Rogare is to take the results of science – eg from donor psychology, NPO-sector research, CSR research and marketing theory – to those who can use them most, the fundraisers. And, conversely, the questions of the fundraisers to the scientists. Important current topics of the think tank are the perception of fundraising in the public, the importance of behavioral science for fundraising and the above-mentioned relationship fundraising.

This interface has been lacking. I am pleased – and feel honored –to participate in this task in the next two years as Advisory Board Member of Rogare in to assume for Rogare the bridging function into the German-speaking fundraising community – also via this blog. Because asking educates.

PS: Rogare also has its own, highly recommendable blog – the Critical Fundraising blog – with articles and comments by the members of Rogare on current debates and issues of fundraising.

PPS: Here you’ll find the press release on the new Advisory Board Members of Rogare.

Clara gives more than Maria – nonprofit research makes fundraisers clever (6/2014)

This article first appeared on the website of the Fundraiser Magazin.

Two twin sisters, Clara and Maria, are raised together at the same place, go to the same school, remain both in the same neighborhood. Yet, Clara is donating five times as much as Maria. Why is that? It’s probably because Clara is attending church service almost every week, whereas Maria, by contrast, makes a big circle around Lord’s house.

Rene Bekkers, researcher at the Institute “Philanthropy Studies” at the Vrije University of Amsterdam was able to show in the first twin study of donor research: Each church service, that one twin is attending more often than her sibling, correlates with 20 Euro higher amount of annual donation. Nice, but do we need to know?

Clara and Maria differ in another respect: Maria attended a college, Clara applied for a job right after school. Although Maria is now earning more than Clara, she is donating much less. Actually, the twin study by Rene Bekker reveals: The mere level of education has no effect on the donor behavior. Correlations in other studies are thus rather based on the parental home (which in turn affects the level of education of the children).

What does that mean for us fundraisers? Religiosity is a very important factor for the inclination to donate. We knew that already. And the level of education does not matter. This is a surprise! Apparently, the educational degree is influenced by the parental home. This means for fundraising: A segmentation by socio-cultural milieus is probably more promising than a differentiation solely based on the level of education.

The example is taken from a workshop of the 11th International Conference on Third Sector Research, held in late July in the German city of Münster – a bi-annual conference of the most prominent nonprofit researchers worldwide. For four days they discussed about donor motives, types of volunteers, benchmarks in nonprofit management and trends of civil society – and remained among themselves. Practitioners from non-profit organizations, professional fundraiser even, were not present.

They could have learnt a lot. For example, that the famous U-curve theory (explaining the proportion of donations depending on the donor’s income), is not true, according to a recent study by the Center on Philanthropy at the University of Indianapolis (USA). Or that the highly vaunted heirs are not such good donors – in comparison to the people who have earned their wealth themselves.

There may be research with little practical relevance. The donor and non-profit research is certainly not one of them. Worldwide, a small but fine research community exists on this issue – with centers in Indianapolis, Amsterdam, Birmingham, but as well in Heidelberg, Münster and Vienna.

Scientists have something to say to us practitioners – particularly to us fundraisers. We should talk with them. Even though, we do not always easily understand their vocabulary. But after a cheerful evening in an traditional German pub I can assure: They are really quite nice, the NPO researchers!

Clara gibt mehr als Maria – NPO-Forschung macht Fundraiser schlau (6/2014)

Dieser Artikel erschien zunächst auf der Website des Fundraiser-Magazins.

Zwei Zwillingsschwestern, Clara und Maria, wachsen zusammen im selben Ort auf, gehen auf dieselbe Schule, bleiben beide im selben Viertel wohnen. Und doch spendet Clara fünfmal so viel wie Maria. Woran liegt das? Aller Wahrscheinlichkeit daran, dass Clara fast jede Woche in die Kirche geht, Maria dagegen einen großen Bogen um das Gotteshaus macht.

Rene Bekkers vom Institut „Philanthropie Studien“ an der Vrije Universität Amsterdam konnte in der ersten Zwillingsstudie der Spenderforschung zeigen: Jeder Kirchenbesuch, den ein Zwilling im Jahr häufiger in die Kirche geht als sein Geschwister, korreliert mit einer um 20 Euro höheren jährlichen Spendensumme. Schön, aber müssen wir das wissen?

Clara und Maria unterscheidet noch etwas: Maria ist auf ein College gegangen, Clara hat gleich ein Ausbildung gemacht. Obwohl Maria nun auch etwas mehr verdient als Clara, spendet sie deutlich weniger. Tatsächlich zeigt die Zwillingsstudie von Rene Bekker: Der reine Ausbildungsgrad hat keinen Einfluss auf das Spendenverhalten. Korrelationen in anderen Studien dürften also eher auf dem Elternhaus beruhen (das wiederum Einfluss auf den Ausbildungsgrad der Kinder hat).

Was heißt das für uns Fundraiser? Religiosität ist ein ganz wesentlicher Faktor für die Spendenbereitschaft. Das wussten wir schon. Und der Ausbildungsgrad spielt keine Rolle. Das überrascht. Offenbar wirkt sich im Ausbildungsgrad das Elternhaus aus. Für das Fundraising heißt das: Eine Segmentierung nach sozio-kulturellen Milieus ist wahrscheinlich erfolgversprechender als eine Differenzierung allein nach Bildungsgrad.

Das Beispiel stammt aus einem Workshop der 11. International Conference on Third Sector Research, die Ende Juli in Münster stattfand – eine alle zwei Jahre stattfindende Konferenz der wichtigsten Nonprofit-Forscher weltweit. Vier Tage diskutierten sie über Spendenmotive, Typologien von Freiwilligen, Benchmarks im Nonprofit-Management und über zivilgesellschaftliche Trends weltweit – und blieben dabei unter sich. Praktiker aus Nonprofit-Organisationen und Verbänden, professionelle Fundraiser gar, waren nicht zugegen.

Dabei hätten sie eine Menge mitnehmen können. Etwa dass die in allen gängigen Fundraising Lehrbüchern verbreitete U-Kurven-Theorie (die den Spendenanteil in Abhängigkeit vom Einkommen erklärt) nach aktuellen Studien des Center on Philanthropy an der Universität von Indianapolis (USA) nicht stimmt. Oder dass die viel beschworenen Erben gar keine so guten Spender sind – im Vergleich zu den Menschen, die sich ihr Vermögen selbst erarbeitet haben.

Es mag Forschungen mit wenig praktischer Relevanz geben. Die Spender- und Nonprofit-Forschung gehört sicherlich nicht dazu. Es gibt weltweit eine kleine, aber feine Forschungsgemeinschaft zu diesem Thema – mit Zentren in Indianapolis, Amsterdam, Birmingham, aber auch Heidelberg, Münster und Wien.

Die Wissenschaftler haben uns Praktikern – gerade auch uns Fundraisern – etwas zu sagen. Wir sollten uns mit ihnen unterhalten. Auch wenn wir ihr Vokabular nicht immer leicht verstehen. Aber nach einem feucht-fröhlichen Abend in einer Münsteraner Traditionskneipe kann ich versichern: Sie sind wirklich ganz nett, die NPO-Forscher!

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