The Fund Raising School has taught hundreds of fundraising classes on six continents in over 40 countries.
Dr. Tim Seiler served as the director of The Fund Raising School for over 20 years, leading it into the 21st century as the preeminent professional fundraising training and educational program. Now, he teaches professional courses for The Fund Raising School and a course in the master’s level program called Principles and Practices of Fundraising.
Dr. Seiler’s many years of practical and teaching fundraising experience with the IU Foundation, The Fund Raising School, the then-Center on Philanthropy and now the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy have given him a unique perspective on how fundraising and the art of teaching it has changed; however, he also touches on the enduring ideas of the field.
Linked throughout this post are photos taken of various editions of The Fund Raising School course guide for Principles and Techniques of Fundraising. From 1974 to 2017, these guides have changed form and structure, but you’ll notice enduring ideas about fundraising and philanthropy.
The changes and constants to fundraising itself
“I think the biggest change has come from the growth in use of technology,” Seiler says. “Use of social media in particular has grown, as have crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and giving moments in time like Giving Tuesday.”
While technology has revolutionized the field, Dr. Seiler believes the fundamentals of fundraising have stayed constant.
“It’s still about building interpersonal relationships and finding donors and potential donors who share the values of the organization,” he says. “Human interaction continues to be a key component to fundraising.”
One of those fundamentals is “The Fundraising Cube,” a device used by The Fund Raising School to illustrate its fundraising management process. Check out the original cube, and its newer, more colorful edition.
How teaching fundraising has changed
Even with those same fundamentals, the practice of teaching fundraising has transformed. In the early 2000s, Dr. Seiler co-taught Principles and Techniques of Fundraising with Dr. Gene Tempel, with one teaching at IUPUI in Indianapolis and one instructing at IU Bloomington.
“We taught on television, so the students could see each other. This was before Skype and most of the transmission studios we taught in were not high quality,” Seiler says. “As a result, we ceased teaching that way after a couple of years.”
Many years later, Dr. Seiler would return to the use of technology in teaching, albeit reluctantly at first.
“Fundraising is an interpersonal exchange. You do that face-to-face, so if that’s the best fundraising, the best way to teach it is this way,” he says.
After teaching for the first time online though, Dr. Seiler realized the importance of providing the opportunity for off-site students to learn about fundraising and philanthropy.
“I started receiving notes and messages from students saying that they really appreciated the opportunity to take the course online. I had a revelation then – we teach the courses online so that students have the opportunity to learn,” he says. “Teaching online was not for my benefit or for the benefit of the faculty, but for the benefit of the students.”
In addition, The Fund Raising School now uses tools such as a podcasts, online classes, and other resources to further innovate the field of fundraising and to make it available to a wider audience.
Another modification to the teaching of fundraising is the guide for the first and most well-known The Fund Raising School course Principles and Techniques of Fundraising.
The first study guide for the course is in a small, blue book and was typed on a typewriter. Since then, the material has evolved through many different editions, including ones from 1987, 1988, 1995, 2007, and 2016. The newest edition, published in 2017, is much shorter.
“We kept the models in the study guide and put the narrative and bibliography on a flash drive that everyone receives. We didn’t lose anything; we just reformatted to fit with technology. It progresses with time,” said Dr. Seiler.
You can see throughout these guides that many of the principles and models remain the same, even almost 45 years later (check out this model of the fundraising cycle from 1987 and one from 2017 as an example.)
Even with the changes over the years, Dr. Seiler noted the continued importance of fundraising to philanthropy and The Fund Raising School has stayed constant in aims of teaching fundraising over the years.
“People are generous, they want to be generous and helpful, and they like to be invited to participate and to help,” he says. “As a result, fundraising is an important component to philanthropy; fundraisers help build philanthropy by doing their work. By helping people do their fundraising more effectively, we are contributing to the growth of philanthropy.”
You can review changes to the guides themselves and their content below.