Adrian Sargeant, the Robert F. Hartsook Professor of Fundraising at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University for the past five years, is taking a two-year, unpaid leave of absence to work on a variety of research projects.
Sargeant says he will work as an independent consultant while also conducting pro-bono research, and has the “potential to go back” to Indiana as the Hartsook Chair, which is believed to be the only endowed chair in fundraising anywhere.
His projects will include working with fundraising associations in Britain and possibly in Ireland, the U.S. and Australia to develop a mix of professional-development and certification programs for fundraisers; and developing and participating in “growing-philanthropy” summits in Britain, the U.S. and Australia.
Sargeant, who last year co-authored a graduate-level fundraising textbook with his wife, philanthropic psychologist Jen Shang, also plans to write a new textbook for senior fundraising professionals.
And he and Shang, an assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University at Bloomington, have taken on two research projects, both focusing on donor identity.
The first, funded by charities in Britain, will examine religious identity, “looking at the interplay between giving as a consequence of faith, and giving as an expression of faith and, given that complexity, how do you raise the right amount of money from individual donors,” Sargeant says.
The second research project, likely to be funded by a group in the U.S., will examine “how identity and identification with an organization builds up, looking at the mechanisms by which people begin to define a part of who they are through their support of a nonprofit organization,” he says.
“If you understand what people are saying about themselves when they support a nonprofit, you can add a lot of additional value for the donor,” Sargeant says. “You can raise more money, but you can do it by making people feel better about themselves by giving.”
He says it would be difficult to pursue his various research projects while continuing to teach a weekly class.
“With all that going on,” he says, “it doesn’t work to be working as a teacher at Bloomington.”