Decolonising fundraising narratives in development cooperation


The Partnering for Change project of the Deaconess Foundation and Filantropia ry organised an online training on dismantling the power structures in fundraising communication. 

Valkoisia paperiukkeleita seisoo rivissä setelien päällä.

“To be able to critically reflect how underlying attitudes, beliefs and ideas I or others in our team may have might impact how we communicate about our work and how we do fundraising.”

These were the expectations of a participant in Decolonising Fundraising Narratives – How to be donor and beneficiary-centred in fundraising narratives, a webinar that took place on 26 October 2023.

The event was hosted by Partnering for Change (PARC) which aims to provide training and tools to development cooperation NGOs to help them recognise and dismantle power hierarchies.

The training was organised to offer an introduction to and a discussion of decolonising fundraising narratives and its challenges. 94 representatives of the development cooperation sector in Finland attended.

The saviourist narratives need to be changed

June Steward, a fundraising specialist from Australia, led the session. Steward is a freelance fundraising specialist and has experience devising strategies for decolonising fundraising communications.

The seminar covered the matter of saviourist narratives, decolonising fundraising and the impossible tension fundraisers face. It also tackled the problem of what organisational support do fundraisers need to be successful at changing saviourist fundraising narratives.

Many of the participants agreed that saviourism was a fundraising issue, and there is need to change the way things are done.  “As fundraisers we are creating narratives that support white saviourism and therefore we are part of the problem”, said one contributor.

Co-producing fundraising stories focuses both on the beneficiary and the donor

The presentation also tackled matters such as public attitudes towards fundraising and if beneficiaries themselves had contributed to the discussion on fundraising approaches. The webinar then dove into the meaning of being beneficiary centred and co-producing stories using local organisation and talent. The trainer also introduced beneficiary-centred narratives and outlined philanthropic psychology which is based on the psychology of giving rather than of buying and is focused on giving and receiving love.

This webinar was the first of three scheduled events on the topic of decolonising fundraising. PARC will be organising the next event in February 2024. Details of the planned webinar will be shared closer to the date.


Partnering for Change project is a part of the development cooperation programme of the Deaconess Foundation funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

Read more about Deaconess Foundation's international work

Partnering for Change is implemented by the Deaconess Foundation and Filantropia ry.

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