Ten years of challenge : the impact of the external environment on charity fundraising and marketing 1989-1999
Change happens constantly, but sometimes several factors coincide, becoming a catalyst for major change. At the beginning of the 1990s there were indications that this was the case for fundraisers. This research begins by going behind the headlines to examine the external environment between 1989 and 1994 and its impact on voluntary fundraising. The research uses a qualitative approach and a grounded theory methodology to examine the changing environment as experienced by 30 heads of fundraising from charities of all sizes. Was the external environment making fundraising more difficult? If so, how were fundraisers responding, what strategies and structures were they adopting? Did it include marketing? From the research one expectation, that charities with large voluntary incomes would have replica fundraising departments, was found not to be the case. Further investigation showed that there was a life cycle for fundraising which was not necessarily in step with the charity as a whole. This discovery through the grounded theory approach led to the five-stages of fundraising, a framework for the development of charity fundraising. The framework identified a number of variables and criteria but also used organisation culture theory to contextualise fundraisers' comments. The framework helped to make sense of some charities' unexpected responses to the questions. Writing up was finished in 1999. A short longitudinal study was then added to compare the impact of the external environment in the second half of the 1990s with that of the first half. The longitudinal study also enabled further testing of the five stages theory to assess its ongoing validity and wider relevance to the sector. Therefore, this research comprises three elements: the original study, the five stages framework and the longitudinal study. It explores the full impact of external changes on fundraising and how fundraisers have responded through the decade.