Love Begets Love
Weekend Reading Round-Up

The Fundraising Case for Being Disruptively Good

Can doing good give you a competitive advantage?

That’s the question Umair Haque asks over at the Harvard Business Review.

He argues that in the hyperconnected world that we live in, where information flows much faster and freely than it use to, it costs a lot less to find out who’s really evil and who’s really good.

In fundraising terms I’d define ‘evil’ as not thanking your donors, using high-pressure, guilt tactics, mailing useless incentives (umbrella’s anyone?) and not showing donors enough love.

Those charities that do least evil (in fundraising terms) will, in the long run, raise the most money.

Umair talks through a hierarchy of five forces that build a compelling business case for companies to do more good than evil.

First force: Information

It’s much easier these days to find out who is really good and who is really evil.

Second force: Discipline

Cheap info makes it easier to take collective action (for example see the recent controversy over Dow Chemicals  sponsorship of Live Earth) and exposes the dishonest and hypercritical.  It also becomes cheaper to reward those who are good.

Third Force: Competition

With increased collective action comes an enhanced incentive for competitors to do good where there’s evil.  These competitive pressures cause rivals to do more good and less bad.

Fourth Force: Disruption

Increased competition leads to higher innovation, new business models, strategies etc and forces incumbents to adapt or die.

Fifth force: Rule-Making

As new innovations come into play, people take more interest in assessing the social costs and benefits of each and choosing the most productive ones.  Visionary organisations make new rules in their markets and alter the incentives for buyers/suppliers to do more good, and less evil.

It’s worth taking time to read the full article, but there is evidence that donors attitudes to fundraising are changing and that abusing traditional methods means that those charities whose fundraising is based on good i.e. transparency, innovation, permission, trust, choice etc, will be at a significant advantage. 


There is also evidence (see charity:water for example) that where competition and innovation leads to a better overall donor experience then people will become increasingly demanding of all fundraising charities.  The consequence of this is that we will need to do more fundraising good and less fundraising evil…