The Invisibility of Domestic Abuse for High-Net-Worth Giving: Replacing Metrics with Morality

Female domestic abuse is a burning platform within UK society, yet its support services attract low levels of philanthropic gifts from high-net-worth individuals.  In a sector overburdened by competitive commissioning processes and ever-diminishing statutory funds, there is an opportunity and an urgent need for major donors to engage, but it remains a cause that is hidden in plain sight.

This is a qualitative research study using data collected through semi-structured interviews with major donors and senior fundraisers within domestic abuse charities.  Thematic analysis reveals how scarcity, tools of patriarchal control, personal responsibility, and othering are used to frame the cause within metric-driven values which dictate the terms on which female domestic abuse services are viewed and funded.  By applying an intersectional feminism approach in the thematic analysis, this study shows how these themes characterise the cause and frame the women as undeserving.  This intersects with a neoliberal metric discourse that ensures it is seen through the lens of personal responsibility and considered invalid.

This research study will illustrate how the cause of female domestic abuse is overlooked by high-net-worth individuals for two reasons.  Firstly, because its victims represent economically unproductive human capital and therefore collateral damage in a neoliberal system, and secondly because the gender of those who experience it renders them invisible. 

The study brings into question the compatibility and morality of using market solutions when dealing with endemic female suffering and advocates that until the cause of domestic abuse is given a moral reframing, it will never be taken seriously as an avenue for transformational gifts.  Without repositioning this cause within the ethics of care, neoliberalism and the patriarchy will continue to act as formidable barriers to the growth of major donor income.

Please get in touch if you would like to hear more about how this research can help your organisation.