Fund Raising and Public Relations: A Critical Analysis

Fund Raising and Public Relations: A Critical Analysis

Fund Raising and Public Relations: A Critical Analysis

Fund Raising and Public Relations: A Critical Analysis

Synopsis

This is the first scholarly work to place the function of fund raising within the field of public relations, redefining it as a specialization responsible for the management of communication between a charitable organization and its donor publics. Combining her academic interest in communication with her experience as a fund raiser, the author has produced one of the few critical studies on fund raising, challenging current perspectives and employing systems theory and the concept of organizational autonomy to lead to a new and different approach. Until now, fund raising has been an anomaly, without an academic home and with few general theories to guide practitioner behavior. This book theoretically grounds fund raising and develops a theory that provides a fuller understanding of one of the fastest growing occupations in the nonprofit sector.

Excerpt

This book was written for scholars of communication and philanthropy, as well as for fund-raising and public relations practitioners. It grows out of my dual sides: a researcher who is fascinated with theoretical explanations and the practitioner. It also reflects my dualism in public relations and fund raising. My degrees are in communication, and I began my career as a public information director. At that time, I did not know what fund raising was and wanted nothing to do with it. But in 1976 I attended one of the first professional development workshops that focused on women in institutional advancement. As we went around the room "sharing" information about our careers, it became clear to me that we were being "cornered" into support functions and that the fund raiser would soon be our boss. It was one of those moments when the proverbial light bulb goes on, and I left the room determined to become the boss--the fund raiser.

For 13 years I specialized in fund raising, serving as director of development for my alma mater, the University of Maryland at College Park, vice president of development and public relations for Mount Vernon College in Washington, dc, and as the associate dean of the College of Journalism and assistant dean for external relations of the business school at Maryland. During the early years while I was directing annual giving programs and planning donor cultivation events, I recognized that my public relations skills were invaluable, but I thought of myself as a development officer. It wasn't until I moved into major gifts that I started thinking of myself again as a public relations practitioner, managing important relationships on behalf of my institution.

I was fortunate that during those years I became active in the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), which helped expand my understanding of public relations. On the scholarly side, I was even more fortunate to be studying at Maryland under James Grunig--the leading theorist in public relations. What my colleagues in prsa were espousing, Jim was explaining through his theories. What I was practicing also seemed to me to "fit" within those theoretical and applied sides, but it appeared that mine was a voice in the wilderness.

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