- The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications (Jeff Brooks)
Awesome insight. It covers all of the little intricacies of fundraising copy, how to actually get your envelope opened, your letter read and people to respond. Great book.
- Fund Raising: Evaluating and Managing the Fund Development Process (Jim Greenfield)
The key thing about this book, and why I keep it around is, the “evaluating” word. Jim created the nine-point performance index for fundraising appeals, which I teach and encourage people to use. Great stuff. All kinds of metrics. A true classic.
- Getting Things Done (David Allen)
Technically not a fundraising book, but I would argue you need a productivity system. That’s why Productive Fundraising is my company name. I view that productivity piece to be just as important as the fundraising itself. It lets you get more done in less time, lets you work smarter, not harder. The Getting Things Done system is just one possible productivity system for you. It can be overly structured for some people. If you’re more of a creative type, you might want to just take some elements. If you love detailed structure and planning, this is the way to go.
- Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (Keith Ferrazzi)
Great networking book. I think this is the best networking book I’ve ever read. It covers how to prioritize one-on-one with time people, make it productive, be authentic, be genuine, be a giver, not a taker, and how to make your network work for you.
- Donor-Centered Fundraising: How to Hold on to Your Donors and Raise Much More Money (Penelope Burk)
This was one of the first real research-based studies on what donors really want and it is now in its second edition (with all new & updated research). Penelope is a straight talker with great insight into donor desires and motivations. A must read!
- Conducting A Successful Fundraising Program (Kent Dove)
This one I affectionately call the Bible. When I was in college and took a fundraising course, this was the textbook. While it looks intense, the first half is theory, the whole second half is templates and samples. That’s why I keep it around. I love the back of this book just when I need a quick down and dirty template on what something looks like in fundraising.
- Making Money with Donor Newsletters (Tom Ahern)
Tom’s great guy. He is the expert on donor newsletters and fundraising copywriting. This is a great book. It’s my go to resource for donor newsletters. It covers why you need a newsletter, what should go into it and how to make it actually have good ROI for you.
- Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value (Adrian Sargeant & Elaine Jay)
This book is co-authored by Adrian Sargeant, probably the foremost current researcher in fundraising. If you haven’t seen him present, it’s a lot of fun. He makes research fun and really gives you what you need to implement it right away. This is a great book where he outlines a lot of his research and really focuses on what we can do to boost donor retention and donor loyalty.
- Nonprofit Fundraising 101 A Practical Guide With Easy to Implement Ideas & Tips from Industry Experts (Darian Rodriguez Heyman & Laila Brenner)
This book is a great intro to the field with commentary and insight from many of today’s top gurus. It’s the book I use as a textbook when I’m teaching an introduction to fundraising course in a college setting.
- A Higher Bid: How to Transform Special Event Fundraising with Strategic Auctions (Kathy Kingston)
The name says it all. This is a comprehensive primer on all things fundraising auction. I especially love Kathy’s coverage of all of the games/raffles/etc. you can use to spice up your events.
- Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style (Carson Tate)
This is typically my recommended starting point for people just beginning to look at improving their personal productivity. It is helpful to know your style and what will work for you before you start looking at specific tools and systems.
For more recommendations, see @fundraiserchad’s top picks for fundraising vendors and gear.