The SOFII history project

Welcome to the SOFII history project! To be a great fundraiser you need to be aware of what has come before and there is no better place to explore our collective past than here. Have you heard of the first ever major donor dinner from 970 BC? Have you read the wise words of Moses Maimonedes, who explored the eight levels of giving 800 years ago? Are you aware of the ground-breaking campaigns from the Victorian era? All these treasures and many more can be found in the SOFII history project. Dive in to learn the valuable lessons of fundraisers past. You can find:

Take a trip in SOFII’s time machine: the SOFII history project - introduction and contents

Part 1: treasures from fundraising’s history here

Part 2: the all-time fundraising greats here

And Part 3: the legends of fundraising here.

What can 6,000 fundraising appeals from 1912 teach you about asking for money?

by Marina Jones

In part one of this series on William Harvey Allen’s review of 6,000 fundraising appeals, Marina Jones noted that the challenges fundraisers face hasn’t really changed much in 100+ years. But today, Marina looks at what these historical appeals can teach us about how we ask for money from donors. Dive in to discover ten key lessons.  

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What can 6,000 appeal letters show you about fundraising 100 years ago?

by Marina Jones

In 1912, researcher William Harvey Allen studied an incredible 6,000 fundraising appeals – and then wrote a book about it. In some ways, it’s a bit like an early SOFII, a place where Allen documented the fundraising tips (and mistakes) of his time. Marina Jones takes you through Allen’s findings and shares some of the ways in which fundraising hasn’t changed.

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Ten fundraising truths inspired by Booker T. Washington

by Marina Jones

Booker T. Washington was the first president of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). But did you know he was also a skilled fundraiser? In this article, Marina Jones shares ten fundraising truths based on Washington’s success and insight. Dive in and be inspired!

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How do you say thank you for 41 million eggs?

by Marina Jones

Fundraising history, donor recognition, supporter experience and thanking. This one has it all! Dive in and explore the many virtues of this World War One (WWI) National Egg Collection campaign. There’s plenty to inspire you and your fundraising, today.

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Celebrating donor recognition through history and exploring why it works

by Marina Jones

Join Marina Jones as she shares a selection of her favourite examples of donor recognition. Dating back to mediaeval times, this is a wonderful (and sometimes weird) collection of ways that donors have been recognised for their gifts. 

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Five insights for fundraisers from the British Red Cross Museum of Kindness

by Mark Phillips

We’ve been meaning to get this gem on SOFII for a while, and we hope you love this bit of fundraising history as much as we do. In this article Mark Phillips shares what he saw on his visit to the British Red Cross Museum of Kindness and shares what fundraisers can learn from their exhibition of wonderful things. 

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International Committee of the Red Cross: Helping victims of the Turkish-Greek conflict

by ICRC

Discover how efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) proved decisive in helping the victims of a brutal conflict.

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Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Ireland: ‘Pay it forward’ campaign

by Marie Quirke

When coronavirus hit and began to impact on the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the people of Ireland stepped up to help. They repaid a gift from 173 years earlier by supporting the Choctaw Nation’s superb viral fundraising campaign. 

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George Harrison–Ravi Shankar Special Emergency Relief Fund: ‘Bangla Desh’ single

by SOFII

We bring you the under appreciated story of what just might have been the world’s first-ever charity pop song, courtesy of an ex-Beatle. Dive to learn more from this piece of our fundraising history – and listen to George Harrison’s song!

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A medieval ‘course’ in writing an appeal

by Mark Phillips

Do you think appeal writing is a recent science? Think again. In this article, Mark Phillips of Bluefrog Fundraising takes you all the way back to the Middle Ages.

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A timeline of modern British philanthropy

by Rhodri Davies

In this fascinating article, Rhodri Davies takes you through a brief but insightful history of British giving.

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The SOFII history project: introduction and contents

by SOFII

Being a great fundraiser means knowing your history, and learning from it. This introduction helps you to explore SOFII’s collection of historical fundraising brilliance. Enjoy!

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