Portrait of Dr Lesley Alborough

Dr Lesley Alborough

Pears Research Fellow, Centre for Philanthropy


Lesley is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Philanthropy. She has a Masters Degree from the Open University in Global Development Management and obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in History and Drama Studies, from the University of Natal (South Africa). 

Prior to commencing her PhD in 2014, Lesley had a 15 year career as a fundraiser in South Africa and the UK. During this time, she worked both as sole fundraiser and part of large teams within the criminal justice sector (South Africa and UK), the arts and heritage sector (South Africa and UK), as well as social care and international development (UK).  

Research interests

Lesley's current research examines how fundraisers facilitate gift giving to non-profit organisations and the ways is which they influence how these organisations carry out their stated aims of meeting the needs of their various beneficiaries. She is particularly interested in how fundraisers themselves interact with organisational structures to shape and influence charitable and philanthropic practice. 


Lesley convenes the 'Art and Science of Fundraising' module, which is part of the MA in Philanthropic Studies.   



  • International Society for Third Sector Research 
  • European Research Network on Philanthropy 
  • Association for Research on Non-profit Organizations and Voluntary Action
  • Institute of Fundraising



  • Alborough, L. (2017). Lost in Translation: A Sociological study of the role of fundraisers in mediating gift giving in non-profit organisations. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing [Online] 22. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/nvsm.1602.
    Recent years have seen a significant growth in the technical literature exploring charitable giving and fundraising. However, there is little empirical research on the actual workings of the fundraising process within non‐profit organisations. In this paper, the day‐to‐day practice of fundraising is analysed from a sociological perspective that draws on the theories of the gift proposed by Mauss (1954), Titmuss (1970), and colleagues to propose an alternative, more complex giving model to strangers. Using qualitative data drawn from 44 interviews with fundraisers and their colleagues across 14 organisations, this study examines how fundraisers build and maintain long‐term giving relationships with the individuals who provide financial support to non‐profit organisations. Findings suggest that the primary gift giving relationship exists not between the giver and beneficiary but rather between the giver and fundraiser. The fundraiser, in this instance, actively employs tactics of reciprocity to both secure new gifts and ensure that givers continue to support their organisation. In doing so, fundraisers construct a narrative of the donor's imagined direct connection to the beneficiary and their “good gift”. Simultaneously, the fundraiser works with colleagues to construct the idea of the caring, connected, and sacrificial donor as a means to solicit their support in maintaining the continued gifting from these supporters. The paper concludes with a consideration of the ways in which these narrative constructions are incorporated into fundraising and organisational strategies; and two implications for perceptions of the role of philanthropy and fundraising.
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