Research centre is neglecting fundraising, says Adrian Sargeant

Expert calls for change at the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy

Adrian Sargeant, professor of fundraising at Indiana University in the US, has written to the funders of the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at the Cass Business School in London, asking them to "address the imbalance of expertise" at the centre and to allocate money to specialist fundraising research.

The British academic told Third Sector the centre, which opened in 2007, had not yet produced research that had helped to improve fundraising. The centre was given £2.2m of funding over five years by the Office of the Third Sector, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Carnegie Trust and the Scottish Government.

The funds were split between four research bases, with £600,000 left over to support other projects. Sargeant said some of this money should be used to produce advice for fundraisers.

"There is no one there at the moment who is a fundraising academic," he said. "I want to persuade the funders to set aside some of it for research that will be of practical use."

Sargeant said the projects so far had been interesting but had not helped to grow giving, improve fundraising practice or enhance the quality of the donor experience. Fundraising academics should help to decide which projects to fund, he added.

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said: "It is essential that funding is made available for research into fundraising that will inform fundraisers' practices and help raise more money."

Saskia Walcott, head of communications at the ESRC, said the £600,000 would fund research in the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy. Proposals for how it would be spent were being considered by the centre's researchers and a decision was expected in January 2010, she said.

"The ESRC and its co-funders believe that the centre has the capacity to adequately address the big challenges facing charitable giving and philanthropy in the UK, including the theme of fundraising."

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