Recommended Books

A list of recommended fundraising, productivity and management books curated by Chad Barger, CFRE.

  • 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.