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5 Fundraising Books Everybody Should Read

The importance of fundraising is hard to overstate. Not only do fundraising campaigns bring in money, but they strengthen an organization at every level. When developing a fundraising strategy, every part of the organization can be involved. Teams learn to work together more effectively. The organization is also forced to identify its strengths and weaknesses by asking questions like, “Where is the money most needed? How can we use it most effectively? How can we become more sustainable?” Successful fundraisers raise awareness and set the foundation for long-term relationships with individuals and other groups with similar visions. If you’re interested in improving your fundraising skills, books are a great place to start. Here are five that everyone should read:

Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value (2004)
By: Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay

20,000 nonprofit organizations participated in a research program funded by the Indiana Fund and Aspen Foundation. This book uses that data to provide a hands-on guide for professional fundraisers. Using case studies that show how significant effective donor retention strategies are, Sargeant and Jay provide practical advice, tools, and techniques on building long-term relationships with donors. The goal of any professional fundraiser should be retaining donors because they help keep an organization sustainable. Chapter topics include understanding why people give, growing monthly giving, and recognizing and rewarding donors. Even with all the information the book gives, it’s a relatively short read under 250 pages.

Adrian Sargeant is a professor of nonprofit marketing at Bristol Business School at the University of the West of England. He’s also an adjunct professor of philanthropy at the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy. Elaine, who has over 14 years of experience as a fundraiser, is the director of Sargeant Associates Ltd., a consultancy firm.

Real Impact: The New Economics of Social Change (2017)
By: Morgan Simon

Impact investing, which refers to investments in organizations/companies to produce a clear benefit and financial return, is taking over traditional aid. For many, it balances the desire to do good while also earning money. In Real Impact: The New Economics of Social Change, seasoned investment professional Morgan Simon breaks down impact investment. She digs into whether it will empower people or suffer from the same mistakes as finance and aid. With her investor and activist experience, Simon is a great guide to the topic. The book includes strategies for investors, entrepreneurs, and community leaders. Chapter topics include the limitations of impact investment, engaging communities, and balancing risk and return. Fundraisers who want to stay on top of giving and social change trends should read this book carefully.

Morgan Simon has influenced over $150 billion from foundations, endowments, and families over the past 20 years. She works in both social finance and social justice, so she’s uniquely qualified. Real Impact has been featured in places like the Harvard Business School and the United Nations.

How To Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas (updated 2019)
By: David Bornstein

In the world of social justice and human rights, it’s easy to feel helpless. David Bornstein’s book, originally published in 2007, shows how even individuals can make a huge difference. The book uses examples like Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jody Williams – an activist who employed an email campaign to get landmines banned – and Robert Baggio, a young man from Brazil who set up 80 computer schools in Brazilian slums. In the updated version, Bornstein includes a new foreword that discusses how social entrepreneurship has evolved. The stories of social entrepreneurs are also updated. Fundraisers from small nonprofits will feel especially inspired by this book. Non-professionals who are passionate about a cause will also be encouraged.

David Bornstein is an author and journalist who focuses on social innovation. In addition to How To Change The World, which has been published in 20 languages, he’s the author of The Price of A Dream. He’s also written many articles for publications like The New York Times.

The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications (2012)
By: Jeff Brooks

How do organizations get donors to give generously and keep giving? This book tackles that question using effective tools and strategies. It’s all about good communication. Fundraising messages are essential to a nonprofit’s ability to bring in funds. This guide focuses on the importance of things like writing style and design. As the subtitle explains, the strategies are “real-world” and “field-tested.” If you’re a fundraiser looking for an engaging read that’s also useful, this is the book to get.

Author Jeff Brooks has three decades of experience in the nonprofit sector. He’s been a writer, creative director, strategist, and consultant for all types of nonprofits. Throughout his career, he’s developed and launched hundreds of campaigns in essentially every form, including print, radio, and digital.

Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits (2014)
By: Heather Mansfield

Most people are glued to their phones or laptops. To get their attention, a nonprofit needs to have a presence there. In her book, social media expert Heather Mansfield explores everything you need to know about mobile and social fundraising strategies. This includes designing websites and emails that work on phones and laptops, choosing the best tools, and building a system that can track your campaign. While written in 2014, this book continues to be relevant. Mobile giving keeps increasing. According to Double the Donation, the number of charitable-giving transactions done by mobile devices went up 50% in 2019.

Heather Mansfield is the founder and editor-in-chief of Nonprofit Tech for Good. Over the past 15 years, she’s trained over 250,000 nonprofit, NGO, and charity staff in online fundraising and social media. She produces and writes the Global NGO Technology Report and Global Trends in Giving Report.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.