Fundraising Theory and Excellence
Dr. Ruth K. Hansen and Dr. Genevieve G. Shaker
Theory in Fundraising, a book chapter by Dr. Ruth K. Hansen, NACC board member, Assistant Professor, and Director of the Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, discusses how theory can help us better understand how and why fundraising happens. Featured in Achieving Excellence in Fundraising (5th Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2022) and The Fundraising Reader (1st Edition, Routledge, 2023) the chapter introduces four theoretical frameworks used to explain aspects of fundraising, especially relating to donor relations and engagement. Fundraisers function as boundary spanners within open systems to acquire and maintain resources for their charities. Donated gifts often contain social elements of reciprocity, which must be negotiated. Donors often make gifts that are consistent with their own values and identities. By understanding donors’ expectations, fundraisers can increase the nonprofit’s perceived salience, legitimacy, and trustworthiness. Readers are encouraged to apply different theoretical lenses to their own practice to generate further insights.
Achieving Excellence in Fundraising, co-edited by Dr. Genevieve G. Shaker, NACC board member and Associate Professor, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, has long been the go-to reference for fundraising principles, concepts, and techniques. Topics include donor motivations and behaviors, engaging donors at all levels, inclusive and ethical fundraising, and more, with contributions from noted experts in the field. You’ll gain insight into the practice of fundraising and the fundraising cycle, reinforced by discussion questions, application exercises, and research-based recommendations.
This 5th edition of Achieving Excellence in Fundraising is reimagined to meet the needs of today’s fundraisers, their nonprofit employers, and the causes they serve, while maintaining key concepts that stand the test of time. Compelling and timely topics new to this edition include donor-advised funds, crowdfunding, raising money in challenging times, fundraising for social advocacy, and more. The needs of fundraising educators are also a central consideration in the book’s organization and contents.
Ruth K. Hansen, PhD, is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s College of Business and Economics, and director of the Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies. She teaches classes in nonprofit organizations, fundraising, organizational behavior, and research methods. Her research focuses on the theory and practice of fundraising, and equity and inclusion in resource mobilization. Dr. Hansen has more than 20 years’ professional experience as a fundraiser, and is a former board member of AFP-Chicago. Recent publications include “Applying a stakeholder management approach to ethics in charitable fundraising,” published in the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing and “Gary Neighborhood House: Managing mission and uncertainty in the Civil Rights era,” in the edited volume Hoosier Philanthropy. She contributed the chapter “Theory in Fundraising,” to the new edition of Achieving Excellence in Fundraising, which was featured on Bill Stanczykiewicz’s First Day Podcast from The Fundraising School. Her research with Dr. Lauren Dula on fundraising appeal letters, supported by the AFP Foundation, is the subject of a recent article in Advancing Philanthropy.
Genevieve G. Shaker, PhD, is associate professor of philanthropic studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and adjunct professor of liberal arts and of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.
She was an advancement officer for 20 years, most recently as associate dean for development and external affairs for the School of Liberal Arts, where she facilitated communications and marketing, alumni programming, and public events as well as fundraising, overseeing the school’s $20 million-dollar contribution to an overall $3.9 billion university-wide campaign.
Professor Shaker’s research focuses on fundraising and fundraisers, workplace philanthropy, philanthropy education, and higher education advancement—including faculty work and the public good as well as philanthropic practices within higher education. Her current projects include explorations of the fundraising profession, relationships between donors and fundraisers, studies intended to generate new information about workplace giving in the United States, and continued examination of how higher education contributes to the global common good.