• Development is a Public Relations Function, Professor Says

    by  • December 2, 2011 • On Public Relations

    We highly recommend Professor Kathleen Kelly’s important book on the relationship of public relations to development, “Fund Raising and Public Relations: A Critical Analysis,” published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Kelly redefines fundraising as “donor relations,” maintaining that it is “not simply about soliciting financial support. It is the management of relationships between the organization and its donors and potential donors.”

    Donor relations means, of course, applying public relations principles to relationship building. Kelly advocates making fundraising a subfunction of public relations. She suggests combining donor relations with alumni relations and government relations as elements of a broader public relations effort, with publications and communications as support functions.

    Fund raising steps of research, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship are tools, Kelly says, for attaining larger public relations goals of awareness, understanding, belief, attitude and action.

    Kelly, who was once a development officer at the University of Maryland and Mount Vernon College, says fundraising must be measured not by total dollars raised, but by whether gifts obtained really help enhance an institution’s effectiveness.