The Best Fundraising Books Ever
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I’m a huge fan of fundraising best practices. Why break your head trying to invent the wheel when you can go to the store and buy a ferrari? I have a huge fundraising library that is constantly growing because I tend to buy books recommended by the fundraisers that I respect the most.
So here is a list of my most bestest, favoritest books on fundraising for your enjoyment. I break it down by type of fundraising for easier reference.
- Board / Volunteer Fundraising
- Case for Support
- Capital Campaigns
- Church Fundraising
- Direct Mail
- Fundraising Spirituality
- General Fundraising
- Grant Writing
- Major Gifts
- Ministry Fundraising
- Monthly Giving
- Online Fundraising
- Planned Giving / Endowments
- Prospect Research
- Links to my favorite fundraising blogs
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
by Andrea Kihlstedt and Andy Robinson. One of the most challenging parts of training volunteers and board members to participate in fundraising is getting them over their fear and helping them get comfortable making the ask. The authors provide fun and easy exercises that will break the ice and help your volunteers to get into the “spirit of asking.”
by Andy Robinson. This author provides a brief but effective introduction to fundraising for board members. He provides the foundation for understanding what they’re going be doing and then gives them a step by step process that will effectively raise money.
Case for Support
by Timothy L. Seiler. Your case for support might be the most important fundraising document that you ever produce. It’s also a lot of work. The author walks you step by step through a process that will produce an effective and useful case for support.
by Tom Ahern. Master fundraiser Tom Ahern lays out an effective process for writing a compelling and effective fundraising case for support.
by Jerry Panas. While this doesn’t have a systematic approach to writing a case statement, it is packed full with nuggets of fundraising wisdom and teaching stories. It’s a quick read and very inspiring.
by Andrea Kihlstedt. A veteran capital campaign consultant shares her winning strategies for successful capital campaigns.
by Kent E. Dove. This comprehensive resource provides a start to finish manual for running a successful capital campaign.
by Nathan Krupa. This is the first book I’ve ever written, so of course it’s my absolute favorite. The target audience for this book is people who are in charge of fundraising in a parish setting who have not had formal fundraising training. I look at fundraising from both the practical and spiritual sides, giving a balanced vision for fundraisers in the Church world.
by Brice Sokolowski. Written by my good friend over at Catholicfundraiser.net, this book gives tips for Catholic fundraisers who are just starting out or more advanced. His focus on faith is refreshing, because it puts all of our fundraising efforts in the proper context. Packed with solid fundraising advice and inspiring stories.
by Deacon Don McArdle. Deacon McArdle spent many years as founder and principle at Catholic Stewardship Consultancy, a firm that specializes in developing stewardship as a way of life in parishes and dioceses across the country. Grateful and Giving tells the story of Msgr. Thomas McGread, the priest who pioneered parish stewardship in Kansas. This book is about more than fundraising, focusing on the bigger picture of how we manage our time, talent, and treasure.
by Charles LaFond. This book gives step by step instructions for a comprehensive annual stewardship campaign. While I don’t agree with all of his theology, his approach to stewardship and fundraising has very strong fundamentals. You’ll have to invest time and energy to do the full campaign and get the best possible results, but it’s also possible to take a few elements of the annual campaign and successfully implement them.
by J. Clif Christopher. Another book by a veteran church fundraising consultant, this book focuses on the differences between churches with an abundance vs. scarcity mindset. This book is a great one to change your perspective on fundraising for church or ministry. Christopher is a pro and I recommend anything he has written.
by Jeff Brooks. This is my favorite book on fundraising writing, bar none. It’s brilliant, inspiring, and right on target. It will teach you how to connect with your donors by writing interesting, inspiring, donor centered communications.
by Jeff Brooks. Did I mention that I think Jeff Brooks is a genius? His first book is as good as the second. Learn how to communicate your mission to donors in a way that inspires them to give.
by Tom Ahern. Ahern is a master at the art of writing fundraising communications that capture the attention of his audience: people who (should) want to give to support his mission.
by Tom Ahern. Your newsletter doesn’t have to be a drain on your resources, it can help you connect with your donors and bring in more gifts. This book will help show you how to do it. This book inspired the transformation of our newsletter, with very positive results.
by Mal Warwick. Recognized internationally as a direct mail master, Mal Warwick provides a comprehensive manual for running a successful direct mail program. If you need just one book to open up the world of direct mail for you, this is it.
by Harry A. Freedman and Karen Feldman. Raising money with events is more challenging than you might think. This book provides practical advice, along with worksheets and checklists, to turn your event from a headache into a profit center.
by Henri Nouwen. Renowned spiritual writer Henry Nouwen puts fundraising in the proper perspective – it is a ministry that brings people closer to God. Fundraisers have the opportunity to invite donors to live the Gospel more generously, something that is not only good, but good for them.
by Thomas H. Jeavons and Rebekah Burch Basinger. Giving to support good works is an opportunity for conversion. The authors provide a sound theological basis for understanding fundraising can and should be approached as a ministry.
by John Mutz and Katherine Murray. This book gives a broad overview of many different types of fundraising. While it gives enough information to get you started in many different directions, the topic of fundraising is so broad that it is unable to dive into deep detail on any particular type of fundraising. This is a good book for someone who is trying to get a broad understanding of fundraising, but you will likely need additional resources if you’re diving deeper.
by Stanley Weinstein and Pamela Barden. When I found this book, my only complaint was that I didn’t find it years earlier. It packs a huge punch, giving detailed information about many different types of fundraising with a specific focus on how to manage fundraising efforts effectively. This book is a must read for fundraisers with management responsibilities.
by David Lansdowne. The author provides great practical advice for fundraisers who are tackling a variety of different fundraising problems. Starting with great tips on how to write your case for support and recruit volunteer fundraisers, the book continues with chapters on such diverse topics as grant writing, event planning, and phone solicitation.
by Kent Dove. This book provides a comprehensive overview of how to run an annual campaign. This tome is thick. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever sit down and read it from cover to cover, but it is a useful reference with many best practices.
by James Greenfield. A comprehensive resource with expert articles curated by editor James Greenfield. This book provides in depth coverage of fundraising programs from some of the fundraising industry’s leading professionals.
by James Greenfield. This book narrows its focus to the Annual Campaign, which is itself a huge topic. It provides detailed information on different aspects of the the annual campaign, within a broader framework of how the different elements are supposed to work together.
by Barbara Ciconte and Jeanne Jacob. Fundraising basics gives some broad strokes of different kinds of fundraising that make up an annual campaign. Packed with useful charts and worksheets to help you develop your fundraising plans.
by Beverly Browning. This is the book that launched my career as a grant writer. It provides a comprehensive understanding for the grant writing process from grantor research to proposal writing and reporting. The book’s layout makes it easy to use as a reference if you have a specific question that you need answered. This book is a must have if you’re trying to learn the art of grant writing.
by Cheryl A. Clarke. The second best grant writing book that I’ve ever read. This book gives examples of poor grant writing and then demonstrates how to turn the mess into success. This book will help you write your grants with greater clarity and cohesiveness, leading to more grant success.
by Cheryl A Clarke. Written by the author of the excellent book, Grant Proposal Makeover, this book focuses on one particular and very important aspect of grant writing: telling your story in an interesting and compelling way. Learn how to tell your organization’s story through your grant application in a way that will inspire grantors to give.
by Ellen Karsh and Arlen Sue Fox. This book walks you through the entire grant writing process from research to evaluation with step by step instructions and expert advice from experienced grant writers.
by James Aaron Quick. The grant budget is often one of the scarier elements of a grant proposal for a new grant writer (and even for those with more experience). In essence, a grant budget tells the financial story of your grant application. This book explains best practices for creating a grant budget that works for funders and makes sense for your organization.
by Kathryn E. Newcomer, Harry P. Hatry, and Joseph S. Wholey. If you’re writing grants, you’re going to need ways of measuring whether your program accomplishes what you desire. This is where program evaluation strategies come into play. This book is a comprehensive resource for developing evaluation strategies that are effective and meaningful.
by Jane C. Geever. Foundation Center hosts Foundation Center Online, one of the world’s premiere foundation research resources. They are experts in the field of foundation funding and have provided a useful and well-written guide to creating a proposal that can get funded.
Asking: A 59-Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers, and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift
by Jerold Panas. Jerold Panas is a legendary fundraiser. His small book is easy to read with practical tips on how to get from zero to fundraising in as much time as you have. Rather than providing a systematic approach, Panas tells lots of stories that illustrate the principles of good major gift fundraising. This book is fun to read and very inspiring.
by Laura Fredricks. An excellent book by a seasoned professional fundraising consultant on the process of asking for big gifts. This book goes beyond asking for major gifts, and shows how the same process can be used to ask for investors, volunteers, or creative projects.
by Kay Sprinkle Grace. Author Kay Sprinkle Grace is an established fundraiser and consultant and has pioneered a now very popular approach to fundraising that focuses on donors becoming investors in social good. Her key insight is that fundraising is less about what the organization wants to accomplish and more about what the donor wants to accomplish.
by Laura Fredericks. When I read this book, my eyes were opened to the glories of major gift fundraising and enlightened to a practical approach to major gift fundraising. This book combines the philosophical background for major gifts fundraising with the practical approaches that actually bring in gifts.
by Richard Perry and Jeff Schriefels. This entertaining book shares helpful anecdotes about how building strong relationships is the foundation of major gift success. The book will give you step by step instructions on how to take your annual fund donors as the foundation for your major gift program.
Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops: How to Leverage Your Annual Fund in Only Five Hours per Week
by Amy Eisenstein. Fundraising consultant, trainer, and author Amy Eisenstein provides a step by step process for creating a major gift program from scratch. She gives practical advice that will take you from finding the right prospect, through the ask, to receiving the gift and stewarding the donor.
by Julia I. Walker. The text book on doing major gifts. This book provides a deep and comprehensive understanding of the entire major gifts process.
by Ken Burnett. Finding, cultivating, and stewarding major donors is fundamentally about building relationships with people. Ken Burnett is a nationally recognized expert in fundraising that focuses on long term relationships between an organization and its supporters.
by William P. Dillon. If you are raising money for a personal ministry or misson, this book should be your starting point. It provides a practical and actionable system for finding the people who will support and sustain your ministry in the future.
by Betty J. Barnett. This book has practical tips on fundraising, but focuses more on the inspirational and spiritual perspectives that will sustain you when you are fundraising.
by Harvey McKinnon. The author’s approach to monthly giving is what I’d call old school. Create a monthly giving society, create a direct mail campaign to reach out to your current donors, and try to upgrade them to a monthly gift. The book contains some great examples of direct mail pieces that the author created for actual campaigns.
Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant. How Small Gifts Can Be Powerful Tools To Support Any Organization.
by Erica Waasdorp. I haven’t actually read this one, but the author runs a well respected blog that I follow. Given her focus and her blog posts, she knows what she’s doing as far as running a monthly gifts program.
by Mal Warwick. The author is a big gun in the fundraising world, and in this book, he brings you articles about online fundraising from some of the biggest names in fundraising.
by Ted Hart and James Greenfield. Two legendary fundraising authors team up to bring you a series of expert articles on how the internet can serve your non-profit. More than just a discussion of online fundraising, this book covers the many ways in which the internet will influence your organization.
by Ted Hart and James Greenfield. Written in 2005, this book is a little dated due to the changes in the online world. Yet it still has good ideas about how to integrate your marketing, communications, and fundraising online from some of the leading experts in the field. It does not, however, address some of the newer technologies like crowdfunding and peer to peer fundraising.
by Ted Hart and James Greenfield. You might have noticed that this is the third book in a row by this pair. They know their stuff and bring together top experts to discuss and explore the possibility of raising big money through social media, peer to peer fundraising, and crowdfunding. A good ccomplement to their previous books.
by Diana S. Newman. If your organization does not yet have an endowment or is considering forming one, you need this book. It will convince you of the power of endowments and the importance of your planned giving efforts. And it will give you the practical steps you need to make it happen.
by Richard D. Barrett. Planned gifts are likely the biggest gifts that your donors will ever give. They don’t happen by accident. Learn how to implement a planned giving program that will work over the long haul.
by Cecelia Hogan. This is the first book I ever read on the field of prospect research. It’s packed with practical research tips and examples of how prospect research can transform your fundraising efforts by helping your front line fundraisers to invest their time on talking to the right people.
by Jennifer J. Filla and Helen Brown. Written by two expert prospect research consultants, this book contains a wealth of practical knowledge and wisdom on how to find useful and meaningful information for your front line fundraisers.
by Steve MacLaughlin. The computer age provides a whole new set of tools for managing your fundraising efforts. With years of using big data for fundraising with industry leader BlackBaud, the author shows how computer modeling and analytics can give you new insights into your donor base, as well as inform your strategies for cultivating and upgrading donors.
by Joshua M. Birkholz. The author provides a detailed guide of how to use data analytics to improve your fundraising results. You can take the data that is warehoused in your donor database and turn it into actionable data that can improve your long term fundraising success.
That’s about all I can think of right now. These are the best books that I’ve read as I’ve studied this art and ministry of fundraising. As I come across new resources, I’ll add them to this list. If I missed any books that you think I should add (especially in the area of event planning – not my specialty) please leave them in the comments below.
Many great fundraisers and companies run blogs about their fundraising specialties. Below are links my favorite fundraising websites, blogs, and resources.
Fundraising starting points
Would you like to learn more about raising money for Church and Ministry? Check out Letters From The Almoner, now available on Amazon.com.
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