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Fundraising ( English ), also means acquisition or fundraising , comprises all operational, conceptual and strategic activities for building relationships with the purpose of raising resources. Beyond the narrow focus on the procurement of resources, fundraising is also understood as the systematic development of relationships to support a social cause (a mission).

About the term fundraising

Although the etymological roots of the term of raising funds (Engl. Fund - the means to raise - raise) have, it is not the fundraising just to the procurement of ( donations -) funds. Rather, fundraising tries to procure all the resources an organization needs to fulfill its charitable statutory purpose. In addition to cash benefits, these can also be benefits in kind (e.g. a donation in kind in the form of a vehicle) or services ( e.g. a time donation in the form of voluntary work ). Correspondingly, a translation of the Anglicism “Fundraising” with the German term “Fundraising” is permissible if “Funding” means all the necessary resources.

A translation of the fundraising term with "donation advertising" falls short because it suggests that fundraising is merely an advertising or communicative task. Fundraising, however, is a comprehensive marketing task. All fundraising activities are systematically analyzed, planned, carried out and controlled. In the marketing system, fundraising is to be classified as “procurement marketing” of a nonprofit organization. Just as a reduction of marketing to advertising is inadmissible, fundraising cannot be reduced to fundraising either. The term donation marketing is a more common translation, although this term cannot be equated with the term fundraising without problems.

Marita Haibach bases her standard work Handbook Fundraising on the fact that in addition to material resources, rights, information, work and services, the focus is primarily on the procurement of financial resources for non-profit organizations. The limitation to non-profit organizations is problematic, however, because fundraising is also carried out for purposes oriented towards the common good that are not recognized as non-profit by the legislature.

If you include the perspective of the donor, it becomes clear that the classic use of the term does not go far enough and that it can be problematic to locate it in marketing. As a rule, donors do not want to finance nonprofit organizations, but rather help people, fulfill purposes and make values ​​stand out. At the individual level, it is about values, identity and social relationships, according to Kai Fischer in his dissertation Why People Donate from 2015. Donations are gifts that are given. However, this happens in a different social process than a transaction through markets. Fundraising is thus becoming a design principle of civil society. Funding for organizations becomes a secondary necessity, as the primary purposes cannot be achieved without resources.

In the international literature today it is undisputed that only long-term relationships lead to success in fundraising. This assumes that the wishes, motives and attitudes of the donors are systematically taken into account in the fundraising and that communication is planned from here ("donor-centered fundraising"). The resulting change in the perspective on fundraising is only slowly taking hold in Germany.

Fundraising methods

When acquiring funds, four donor markets are addressed: private individuals, companies, foundations and government agencies for public grants. The methodological approach these donors markets rather similar to the subscription sales of newspapers and magazines, with institutional donors rather the individuals in business-to-business - selling a for-profit organization.

  • Strategic and operational planning of fundraising
  • Identification: Researching possible donors and patrons (is mainly used when looking for large donors)
  • Contact work via telephone, visits and invitations to events
  • Personal relationship work, joint leisure activities, business friendship
  • Direct dialogue
  • long-term loyalty of donors, donor relationship management (DRM)
  • Sponsorship fundraising
  • Relationship fundraising: segmentation into different donor target groups and initiation of appropriate bonding measures (relationship work)
  • Inheritance marketing
  • Business cooperation
  • Charity shopping : Positioning on online platforms where sellers pay part of the purchase price to a non-profit organization and the respective buyer determines which NGO should benefit.
  • Monetary requirement marketing
  • Controlling: Evaluation and analysis of all current and past fundraising measures
  • Donation in kind fundraising: NGOs receive donations in the form of certain material goods, the resale of which generates a monetary profit.

Target groups in fundraising

Various groups of sponsors can be considered in fundraising.

Private individuals

Donations from private individuals make up the bulk of the fundraising resources raised. According to evaluations and critical assessments of tax statistics, between five and six billion euros are donated annually in Germany (figures from 2015, later not yet available). Private individuals donate from their income (the classic small donations), from their assets (usually large donations) and from their inheritance. Depending on the source from which donations come, the decision-making processes and thus also the requirements for fundraising and building relationships vary.


Companies can be considered both as donors and sponsors. While donations are gifts without consideration, in sponsoring consideration is expected and agreed. These are usually income from taxable business operations and are therefore subject to both income taxes (corporation tax, trade tax) and sales tax. In addition to sponsoring, various forms of cooperation have emerged in recent years (corporate social responsibility - CSR). In addition to "cause-related marketing" and "co-branding", there are also forms that serve to involve your own employees. This includes, for example, forms of corporate volunteering and employment in the context of personnel development (“changing sides”).


Funding foundations are among the classic financiers of non-profit organizations. They allocate at least part of their investment income in accordance with the purposes defined in their articles of association. As a rule, a prerequisite for a grant is an application for funding, which must meet the requirements set by the respective foundation. There is no right to funding. Foundations are free in their decisions. Due to the low interest rate policy of the central banks, the investment income of foundations has fallen in recent years. This means that fewer resources are available for extraction.

Monetary requirements

Judges and public prosecutors can discontinue proceedings against payment of a fine (monetary requirement). This can be linked to the condition that it is paid to a non-profit organization that is entered in the list of organizations entitled to receive it at the competent higher regional court. Judges and prosecutors are free to decide. This gives them the opportunity to point out their own organization and the projects and programs. Often, financial requirements are assigned close to the offense or locally.

Fundraising communication tools

Funding can be acquired with the help and support of various communication channels. The choice of a channel depends on the target group for the acquisition of funds and a cost / benefit analysis.

Fundraising on the Internet

Online fundraising has several advantages over traditional methods. Donations can be made directly via the Internet (by direct debit or credit card ). Even small donations can still be processed profitably with the help of micropayment systems. Younger target groups who were previously poorly accessible are reached via the Internet. Experience seems to show that, on average, larger amounts are donated online than offline, but overall the internet generates a smaller proportion of total donation income. Larger organizations with donations over one million euros are now likely to generate up to five percent of the total donation income online; in the limited time of a natural disaster accompanied by the media, a share of up to 20 percent of the donation income is a realistic target for humanitarian aid organizations.

In addition to traditional approaches such as newsletters and websites with donation forms, new forms have emerged for the acquisition of donations on the Internet : For example, in the American presidential election in 2004, online communities ready to donate were formed, and volunteers have online money for their friends and acquaintances collected the campaign. The campaigns provided the online tools required for this in their volunteer portals. In addition to newsletters and online communities, fundraising via search engines should be mentioned in particular ( search engine marketing / search engine optimization ). About "Google Grants" it is a non-profit recognized organizations which have been approved for the program, possible free ads (Google Adwords) in the search results lists from Google to turn over and here specifically solicit online donations.

Social media portals such as Facebook and twitter can also be used for fundraising purposes by implementing applications for direct online or SMS donations in the news channels. However, a quantitative study of the activities of 65 German non-profit organizations in the social web in October 2010 showed that comprehensive social media strategies are still the exception. Alongside Facebook, YouTube proved to be the most popular platform for social distribution; around 85% of the organizations examined were active here. The number of published articles turns out to be relatively low overall. Networking opportunities within social media were hardly used. Only 10% of the non-profits integrated fundraising instruments into their Web 2.0 presence.

Fundraising with the mobile phone

Many mobile phone providers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland offer micropayment options with mobile phones. A donation SMS is a short message that is provided by the donor with an organization-specific password and sent to a speed dial number. The amount of money is then debited from the mobile phone bill or from the prepaid credit.

Fundraising for regional non-profit organizations

Compared to nationally and internationally active organizations, regionally working organizations have advantages in fundraising despite the geographically more limited target group: Local and regional networks can be specifically addressed and used to establish contacts, the work of the organizations can be experienced locally and many sponsors are happy to get involved Projects in their living environment. From this, specific strategies can be developed which combine fundraising and civic engagement.

Proof of effectiveness

An important lever for the fundraising of non-profit organizations is to be able to prove or document the previous or intended social effects of the project. State institutions as well as companies or donors who have been made insecure by donation scandals expect an organization to be able to prove the quality of its work with the help of comprehensible results. The means of choice are evidence of impact that can be obtained through impact analyzes , an impact logic of the project or the social reporting standard .

Donation seals and transparency agreements

If the resources required by a tax-privileged non-profit organization are raised from a company, it is important under tax law whether the company donates its money, goods or services in the context of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) selflessly as a donation or as part of sponsorship in anticipation of a consideration. Under certain conditions (see sponsorship decree) this means for the receiving organization that it leaves the tax area of ​​the non-profit and (possibly without knowing or wanting to) enters the area of commercial business operations . This can mean that the raised resources are taxable. The conceptual differentiation between donation and sponsoring is necessary from a tax law perspective, as both can result in very different tax treatment.

To strengthen the trust of donors, numerous associations of organizations offer donation and organizational review structures with which donors can evaluate the work of the organizations on the basis of a wide variety of criteria, such as correct administration and accounting, transparent presentation of the use of funds, ethical fundraising, results achieved, fairness, truthfulness Etc.

At some of these institutions, an examination and award of the seal is subject to a fee, such as B. with the DZI , with others free of charge, such. B. at Phineo . At the German Donation Council , an examination is included in the membership fee, other initiatives such as the Transparent Civil Society Initiative are based on declarations of voluntary commitment free of charge.

The Evangelical Alliance has set up a clearing house to which any form of manipulation and abuse of power by members can be reported.

As a professional association , the German Fundraising Association obliges its member organizations to adhere to the “19 basic rules for good, ethical fundraising practice” and the “Charter of Donor Rights”, which are monitored by the association's own arbitration committee.

There are comparable initiatives and associations in Austria with the donation seal of approval and in Switzerland with ZEWO .

Exchange of ideas

Since 1993 there have been fundraising congresses, regional round tables and specialist conferences in Germany as meeting points for fundraisers for the purpose of exchanging experiences and further training. The largest industry get-together in Europe is the International Fundraising Congress. In addition, there is the German Fundraising Congress and the fundraising days of the Fundraiser Magazine in Germany, the Austrian Fundraising Congress in Austria, the SwissFundraisingDay in Switzerland, as well as conferences in various cities.


The exact, actual amount of donations in Germany is not known, but GfK SE carries out on behalf of the German Donation Council e. V. conducts random surveys every year that allow extrapolations. According to this, the donation volume in 2019 totaled 5.1 billion euros, with only 29% of all Germans making a monetary donation. The German Donation Council has recognized a slight decrease in both the number of donations and the volume of donations in recent years. The average donation was 37 euros. December accounts for 18% of the total annual donation volume.

Donations are primarily made for humanitarian aid (75.3%), animal welfare (5.9%), sport (3.0%), cultural and monument preservation (2.5%) and environmental protection (3.5%).

The corporate donations were for the year 2012 about 8.5 billion euros direct subsidies and 1.5 billion euros donations and approximately 0.9 billion euros infrastructure donations.

See also


Fundraising in general

  • Nicole Fabisch: Fundraising. Donations, sponsorships and more ... . 2nd Edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-423-50859-9 .
  • Kai Fischer: Why people donate. A contribution to the gift-theoretical foundation of fundraising. Mission-Based Verlag, Hamburg 2015, ISBN 978-3981745702 .
  • Fundraising Academy (Ed.): Fundraising. Handbook for basics, strategies and tools . 5th edition. SpringerGabler Verlag, Wiesbaden 2016, ISBN 978-3-658-07109-7
  • Alexander Glück: The Sold Responsibility - The silent agreement in fundraising . Stiftung & Sponsoring Verlag, Essen 2009, ISBN 978-3-9812114-2-9 .
  • Marita Haibach: Fundraising Handbook: Donations, Sponsoring, Foundations in Practice. 4th, updated and exp. Edition Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / Main, New York 2012, ISBN 978-3-593-39792-4 .
  • Bernd Jaenicke : Fundraising dictionary from A – Z, strategic marketing, procurement management, fundraising and sponsoring . Dialog Europa Berlin, Berlin 2013, ISBN 3-9808590-0-2 .
  • Michael Urselmann: Fundraising - Professional fundraising for tax-privileged organizations . 6th edition. Springer Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden 2014, ISBN 978-3-658-01794-1 .

Newsletters and magazines

  • Fundraiser is an industry magazine for social marketing, donations and foundations and provides all past issues free of charge in the archive as PDF files for download. Appears every two months in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
  • ngo-dialog is the monthly newsletter of the fundraising academy which is not only aimed at the alumni of the academy, but all people who are looking for suggestions in the field of social marketing, donations and sponsoring for their clubs and organizations.
  • is an information site on the topics of social marketing and digital communication for nonprofit organizations. The multi-author blog understands fundraising as a holistic task to procure all necessary resources, i.e. beyond the concept of money.
  • Akquisos newsletter of the Federal Agency for Civic Education / bpb, which prepares current information, links, tips and dates on the subject of fundraising and marketing as well as interesting grants and current calls for tenders for state and non-governmental institutions of political education, NPOs, educational initiatives and networks researched at European and national level with a view to applicants from political education.

Web links

Wiktionary: Fundraising  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Dictionary: fund. In: Retrieved February 6, 2020 .
  2. Thesaurus: fund. In: Retrieved February 6, 2020 .
  3. Thesaurus: raise. In: Retrieved February 6, 2020 .
  4. ^ German vocabulary: Fundraising. In: German news corpus. University of Leipzig, Institute for Computer Science - German Vocabulary Project, accessed on February 6, 2020 .
  5. ^ A b Michael Urselmann: Fundraising - professional fundraising for tax-privileged organizations 6th edition. Springer Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden 2014, ISBN 978-3-658-01794-1
  6. Munich Business School's working paper on donation marketing (PDF; 130 kB)
  7. Marita Haibach: Fundraising Handbook: Donations, Sponsoring, Foundations in Practice. 4th edition. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / Main, New York 2012, ISBN 978-3-593-39792-4 ( Marita Haibach is a lecturer and consultant for fundraising)
  8. Christoph Müllerleile : "How do you define fundraising?" in Fundraising-Echo 2014.4
  9. Kai Fischer: Why people donate. A contribution to the gift-theoretical foundation of fundraising . Mission-Based Verlag, Hamburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-9817457-0-2 .
  10. ^ Fritz-Rüdiger Volz: Social anthropological and historical foundations of fundraising . In: Fundraising Akademie (Ed.): Fundraising: Handbook for basics, strategies and methods . 5th edition. Springer Gabler, Wiesbaden 2016, ISBN 978-3-658-07109-7 , pp. 1-19 .
  11. James G. Carrier: Gifts & Commodities. Exchange and Western Capitalism Since 1700 (=  Material Cultures ). 1st edition. Taylor & Francis, London 1995, ISBN 978-0-415-11752-4 , pp. 190 ff .
  12. ^ Kai Fischer: Mission-Based Fundraising. Higher donations through long-term relationships . Mission-Based Verlag, Hamburg 2019, ISBN 978-3-9817457-2-6 .
  13. ^ Penelope Burk: Donor-Centered Fundraising . Cygnus Applied Research Ltd., Chicago and Hamilton 2003, ISBN 978-0-9687978-1-5 , pp. 13 ff .
  14. Kai Fischer, Friedrich Haunert, Thomas Kreuzer: What is fundraising? In: Fundraising Academy (ed.): Fundraising. Handbook for basics, strategies and methods . 7th edition. Springer Gabler, Wiesbaden 2016, ISBN 978-3-658-07109-7 , pp. 77-91 .
  15. Ulrike Gerber, Kathrin Kann: Who donates how much? Investigations on willingness to donate and the amount of donations with the taxpayer panel . In: Federal Statistical Office - Destatis (Ed.): WISTA . No. 6 , December 11, 2019, ISSN  0043-6143 . Download as pdf
  16. ^ Nicole Fabisch: Fundraising. Donations, sponsoring and more ... Beck Juristischer Verlag, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-423-50859-0
  17. The following source can only serve as a guide: no current figures from independent institutions are currently available. The survey by is based on internal figures and cannot be used for the entire e-donation market. However, it shows a market trend. Björn Lampe: Online fundraising: current figures and statistics. In: May 10, 2016, accessed March 11, 2020 .
  18. Thilo Reichenbach: "Donation Market in Germany"
  19. Manuel Merz, Stefan Rhein, Julia Vetter: Election campaign on the Internet. Online Political Campaign Guide. Public Affairs and Political Management 9. Lit Verlag, Münster 2006, ISBN 3-8258-9262-X
  20. Thilo Reichenbach: Online Fundraising Instruments: "Search Engine Marketing"
  21. a b c d Lubasch, Thomas; Bohm, Fabian; Nöll, Florian: Online Fundraising Instruments: “Social Media Report. Spendino, Berlin 2010: "
  23. ^ Katrin Kiefer, Jörg Eisfeld-Reschke: Research gap in online fundraising. In: 2012, accessed February 7, 2020 .
  24. ^ Kai Fischer and Annette Krause: Fundraising regional organizations . In: Paritätischer Gesamtverband and Paritätische Akademie (ed.): Work manual: Finances for the social sector . 14. update Edition. Dashöfer Verlag, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 978-3-938553-22-0 .
  25. Timo Reinfrank: Fundraising for democratic culture . In: Amadeu Antonio Foundation (ed.): Fundraising for democratic culture. Fundraising for civil society initiatives . Berlin August 20, 2007, p. 5-11 . Download as pdf
  26. Effect means changes. Also for fundraising , accessed on October 20, 2017.
  27. What is effect?, accessed on October 20, 2017.
  28. ^ Website of the International Fundraising Congress
  29. ^ Website of the German Fundraising Congress
  30. ^ Website of the Fundraising Days
  31. ^ Website of the Austrian Fundraising Congress
  32. SwissFundraisingDay website
  33. Bianca Corcoran-Schliemann, Dr. Max Mälzer: Balance of Helping 2020 - Donation period Jan-Dec 2019. In: German Donation Council e. V. and GfK CharityScope, February 25, 2020, accessed on March 11, 2020 .
  34. ^ Balance sheet of the Helfens Deutscher Spendenrat eV, accessed on October 19, 2017.
  35. First Engagement Report 2012 - For a Culture of Shared Responsibility , accessed on October 19, 2017.