Sunday, July 28, 2013

New fundraising research finds all previous fundraising research was wrong

Researchers at work

A new study of fundraising trends in the US has found almost all of the previous studies on fundraising trends in the US were wrong.

The research study by the Centre for New Fundraising Research at the University of Eastern North Carolina researched more than ten years of previous fundraising research, including more than 7,000 articles, white papers, conferences, webinars and books. It found nearly every one was completely wrong.

“Wrong, wrong, wrong. Just absolutely, positively and totally wrong. We’re talking big honking wrong here,” said lead research Dr. Dibble Brewer. “Everything you ever read about fundraising in the last ten years was completely wrong. Just throw it out and start over.”

Researchers compared recommendations, insights and conclusions of all previous fundraising research with real world fundraising standards by using focus groups. In the research, groups of real fundraisers were given the compiled wisdom of the research database on a variety of topics, including capital campaign, strategy, marketing, social media, web design, gift planning and more. Researchers say they were surprised at how quick focus group members were to label the information as wrong.

“It took about ten minutes into our focus group on annual giving for people to start questioning the sanity of the people who wrote the material we had compiled from books we had purchased from Amazon and the AHP. The gift planning group started to get angry with us when we showed them the works from our database – many of them left the group early and never came back,” said Brewer.

More than 60 per cent labeled the information as “wrong”. A third said it was “completely wrong”. Just over ten percent said it was “insanely wrong” and two percent labeled it as “criminally wrong”.

There was a different reaction when the other focus groups were given exactly the same information in their original form.

“We gave them the books and articles that our information came from and the focus group just ate it up.”

 The second group characterized exactly the same material as “effective”, “helpful” and “inspiring”.

Brewer says the study shows that practically anything can be labelled “fundraising research” and sold to the public.

“I could take the ingredients of the back of a can of soup, label it as ‘major gifts research’ and make a fortune selling it to  fundraisers across the country,” he said.

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