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.

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, head of CAF‘s think tank ‘Giving Thought’, runs 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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Crowdfunding: A lesson from World War II

by Roger Craver

The Spitfire was a single-seat, short-range, high-performance interceptor. But Britain faced an early and major problem with this impressive fighter plane – where to get the money to pay for the thousands that were required. The solution was fundraising. 

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The SOFII history project part one: 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 two: 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 three: the legends of fundraising

by Joe Burnett

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

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Eihei Dogen: fundraising letter from 1235

by SOFII

This letter, sent in the year 1235, may be the oldest fundraising letter on record. It’s certainly the oldest we know of. It is also an extraordinarily competent appeal. The letter identifies the different types of people that the writer, a famous Buddhist sage, wishes to address. It doesn’t just describe the need that donors can meet, it also recognises the benefits that donors might receive when they respond.

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