The SOFII history project

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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.

A medieval ‘course’ in writing an appeal

by Mark Phillips

Do you think appeal writing is a recent science? Think again. In this super 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, head of CAF‘s think tank ‘Giving Thought’, runs through a brief but insightful history of British giving.

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

by SOFII

Welcome to the greatest collection of historical fundraising brilliance you'll ever find.

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Crowdfunding: A lesson from World War II

by Roger Craver

In the latest addition to SOFII’s History Project, Roger Craver takes you back to World War II and explores a crowdfunding campaign that raised money for Spitfires. 

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The SOFII history project part 1: treasures from fundraising’s history.

by SOFII

Welcome to part one of SOFII’s history project. Dive in to explore the best campaigns from antiquity to the 20th century!

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The SOFII history project part 2: the all-time fundraising greats.

by Joe Burnett

Do you want to learn from the very best in the fundraising business? This is the section for you as we explore the greatest ever campaigns, events and pioneering thinkers.

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The SOFII history project part 3: the legends of fundraising.

by Joe Burnett

Meet the women and men who transformed, improved and revolutionised fundraising.

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Magic moments part two: how some of the world’s best causes got started

by Aline Reed & Ken Burnett

SOFII casts its spotlight on the early instants of inspiration that gave rise to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Greenpeace, Centrepoint, Freedom from Torture, NSPCC, the Fred Hollows Foundation and University College London

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Magic moments part one: how small beginnings inspire great causes

by Aline Reed & Ken Burnett

In this article Aline Reed and Ken Burnett describe some great founding moments – how small beginnings can inspire great causes.

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UNICEF: the card that launched UNICEF’s fundraising

by SOFII

UNICEF's very first ever Christmas card would lead to the multi-million dollar international business that is UNICEF's cards today.

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Major contributors to this section

Aline Reed

Aline Reed is a freelance copywriter and creative. She worked for fourteen years at Bluefrog, a London-based agency that specialises in fundraising, where she progressed from copywriter to creative director. She has written fundraising campaigns for all kinds of organisations – charities, museums, galleries and universities. Her work has successfully run internationally in the Netherlands, US, Australia, Ireland as well as the UK. Away from fundraising, she writes book reviews for the Sunday Express and blogs about books and travelling.

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Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips started fundraising for ActionAid UK in the late 1980s and later became head of fundraising at YMCA England. He set up Bluefrog in 1997 with one simple goal – to be the agency he would have wanted to employ. His approach to fundraising is based on understanding and answering donor needs. Mark shares his ideas and findings through his blog, queerideas.co.uk.

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Marie Burnett

Marie Burnett (1949-2019) was director of The White Lion Press and a trustee of SOFII.

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