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7 Nonprofit Fundraising Books Your Organization Must Read

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Updated 4/11/2018: This piece has been updated to include new books, new editions of the previously recommended books, and updated pricing.

Some learn by doing, some by listening, and others learn by reading. This list is for those who learn through books.

There are mountains of books out there dedicated to fundraising—relating to donors, donor retention, and building relationships. If you’re a nonprofit professional looking for additional guidance on how to improve your fundraising skills, which in turn will lead to more donations and higher donor retention, then this is the list for you.

nonprofit fundraising books your organization must read graphic

In order to help you find the best nonprofit fundraising books, I have compiled some of the top recommended fundraising books on Amazon, Top Nonprofits, and Goodreads.

All links lead to each book’s Amazon page, and the books are listed in alphabetical order.

1. ‘Asking Styles: Harness Your Personal Fundraising Power

Asking Styles Fundraising Book Cover

I wish I found a book like this when I worked in the nonprofit sector, asking for donations over the phone. Fundraising coach Andrea Kihlstedt teaches you how to use your personality traits—even those of an introvert like me—to your advantage, making you more effective at asking for money.

Amazon rating: 5/5 stars

Price: $195.80

Amazon reader review: “If you’ve ever worked closely with people—or thought you might someday—you can richly benefit from Andrea Kihlstedt’s impactful new book. Her people insights are spot on, her fundraising acumen is evident, and her ability to communicate is enviable. My only complaint: I wish I could have drawn from this well of knowledge three decades ago!”

2. ‘Fundraising for Social Change

Fundraising for Social Change book cover

“Fundraising for Social Change” has been around for decades and is frequently updated. This edition provides all of the useful information found in previous editions, including donor base retention strategies and low-cost fundraising methods, as well as new techniques and tips based on technological advances.

Amazon rating: 4.5/5 stars

Price: $36.93

Amazon reader review: “This book covers all types of fundraising–events, direct mail, phone-a-thons, personal requests, and more. There is more than enough information on each of these topics to help you implement the strategy.”

3. ‘The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications

In his comprehensive guide to fundraising communication, Jeff Brooks walks you through real-world scenarios in development that will teach you the strategies, writing styles, and aesthetic necessary for a successful campaign.

Amazon rating: 5/5 stars

Price: $24.95

Amazon reader review: “I had to completely change my approach to writing fundraising materials for a small NFP. As a former ad agency copywriter, this book provided me with a set of best practices to follow—and they work. Asking for money for a charity is a whole different ball game than writing an ad or writing for a website or blog. You have to change your style accordingly. This book will tell you how. This book quickly brought me up to speed, as well as the director and other board members.”

4. ‘It’s Not Just About Money: How to Build Authentic Major Donor Relationships

Not Just About Money Build Authentic Donor Relationships

While it is better and safer to have a large list of small donors rather than a short list of large donors, it’s certainly beneficial to build relationships with those multi-figure donors. This book will teach you where those large donors are, how to gain their support, and how to make sure they stay on board with your organization.

Amazon rating: 5/5 stars

Price: $14.95

Amazon reader review: “‘It’s Not Just About the Money’ is an easy-to-follow, ‘must have’ book for all nonprofit leaders! I was hooked when the authors talked about donors as being central to your mission, and even including donors in your mission statement. The Seven Pillars of Major Gift Strategy are right on the nose, and if you raise major gifts, or wish you did, you should read this book.”

5. ‘Making Money with Donor Newsletters

Making Money with Donor Newsletters book cover

Reporting your organization’s successes to donors is key to keeping the donation flow moving, and newsletters are the perfect way to announce those accomplishments. Tom Ahern will teach you the fundamentals of how to build the perfect newsletter and why newsletters are vital to building donor retention.

Amazon rating: 5/5 stars

Price: $24.95

Amazon reader review: “This book lays out what you need to include when trying to communicate with your donors. Tom has many, many years in the field and his writing advice stretches beyond what you want to say to explain how to touch the hearts of your donors and what ‘triggers’ engagement and giving. I’ve already suggested it to colleagues in higher ed fundraising, and it informs how I think about my communications.”

6. ‘Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits

Mobile for Good book cover

Mobile fundraising is making a huge impact in the nonprofit sector as mobile device use surpasses desktop computer use. Heather Mansfield provides a best practices guide to make the most of your mobile fundraising efforts.

Amazon rating: 4.5/5 stars

Price: $9.97

Amazon reader review: “This book lays out some really insightful and interesting ideas to consider when implementing a social media strategy. It’s an invaluable tool for a New Media Manager both in and outside of the nonprofit sector. I appreciate that Mansfield is quite overt about the dire need for the role of social media in fundraising and cause-awareness campaigns.”

7. ‘Revolution in the Mailbox: Your Guide to Successful Direct Mail Fundraising

Revolution in the Mailbox book cover

Believe it or not, direct mail marketing and fundraising is still an effective tool to build relationships with donors. This updated edition of “Revolution in the Mailbox” is a useful guide to gaining donors, increasing efficiency, and building visibility through your direct mail campaign.

Amazon rating: 5/5 stars

Price: $13.99

Amazon reader review: “This book should be required reading for every nonprofit organization using direct marketing. Whether you are using a direct marketing agency or doing it all in-house, this book explains not just ‘how’ but ‘why’ and is an invaluable reference that you will turn to again and again. Most of the questions your board has ever asked about direct marketing are answered here. Plus, the author uses real client examples with supporting spreadsheets as illustrations.”

Other fundraising resources

If you are looking for additional reading material on nonprofit fundraising, the Capterra nonprofit technology blog is the perfect resource. Be sure to check out these other posts if you enjoyed this list:

Have you read any of these books or picked up a different fundraising book that you feel would fit on this list? Don’t keep it to yourself—let us know in the comments below!

Looking for Nonprofit software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Nonprofit software solutions.

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About the Author

Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a Content Writer for Capterra, a free resource that matches buyers and sellers of business software. He has a background in politics, economics, and journalism, which he dedicates his off-time to contributing his thoughts to other political sites. In his free-time he enjoys reading, drawing, photography, playing guitar, writing, and cooking.

Comments

Nick, you’ve put together a nice list of classic and fresh resources for fundraising professionals. I’ll make sure that all of the titles are available in the “Readers Recommend” section of The Nonprofit Bookstore (http://bit.ly/es0MqX); I created this site to allow readers to get books through Amazon while knowing that a portion of their purchase price will be donated to charity.

As for other titles, I’d like to suggest three that are less general in nature than those on your list:

DONOR-CENTERED PLANNED GIFT MARKETING (http://bit.ly/eRgSum) This is an Amazon 5-star book that won the AFP-Skystone Prize for Research in Fundraising and Philanthropy. It has also been on the official CFRE International Resource Reading List. (In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote this one.)

EFFECTIVE TELEPHONE FUNDRAISING (http://bit.ly/1wc6fO0) This is an Amazon 4-star book that contains everything one needs to know to run a highly effective telephone fundraising program, just like the title says.

MEMBERSHIP MARKETING IN THE DIGITAL AGE: A HANDBOOK FOR MUSEUMS AND LIBRARIES (http://amzn.to/2aTyaj6) This book is the result of a collaboration between some of the country’s top membership marketers.

I could go on. Like you, I’m a fan of dozens and dozens of fundraising books. It’s tough to develop a short list of favorites. Fortunately, your list represents a great starting point, not an end point.

I might add two books by Kivi Leroux Miller, books I read when I was new (er) in the field, and still helpful –
The Nonprofit Marketing Guide
(high impact, low cost ways to build support for your good cause)
and
Content Marketing for Nonprofits
(a communications map for engaging your community …)

Great article! I came across your list and thought to reach out.

I recently published my list of 50 books for fundraising. You can read it here: http://catholicfundraiser.net/reading-list/

It might make a nice addition to this page for anyone raising funds for Catholic or Christian causes.

Either way, keep up the great work!

Thank you, Michael! I will definitely look into those books and perhaps will include them in a future update of this post!

Surprising “How to write Successful Fundraising Letters-Mal Warrick wasn’t on the list.

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