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The 10 Books Every Fundraiser Should Read

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Update 2/24/2017: This piece has been updated to reflect new additions to this book list.

There is a whole treasure trove of knowledge to be found in books. Anything you need to know or story you want to experience can be found in a book.


You know who has hundreds upon hundreds of books lining their bookshelves and stacked on every other flat surface of their room?


It’s not a matter of pretentiousness either. I put a premium on learning and books have always been my favorite way of discovering new things. From the way I see things, reading is a road to career enrichment, especially since much of my success can be attributed to the knowledge I found in all of those books.

Fundraisers, take note.

There are mountains of books out there dedicated to fundraising, relating to donors, donor retention, and building relationships. If you don’t know where to start, you might miss some of the more useful works that are out there.

In order to help you find the best fundraising books, I have compiled this list pulling from some of the highest recommended fundraising related books on Amazon, Top Nonprofits, and Goodreads. Here are the ten books that came up multiple times in these lists.

All links lead to each book’s respective Amazon page. Books are listed in alphabetical order.

1. Asking Styles: Harness Your Personal Fundraising Power

I wish that I had found a book like Asking Styles when I was younger so that I might’ve built that courage sooner. Fundraising coach Andrea Kihlstedt teaches us how to use our personality traits – even those of an introvert like me – to our advantage, making us more effective at asking for money.

Amazon Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $14.96 – $22.83

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, Asking Styles, Harness Your Personal Fundraising Power. 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. Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is less expensive to retain donors than to spend time and effort finding new ones. Building Donor Loyalty will guide you down the path to generating a list of consistent and long-time donors through case studies, donor retention strategies, and the factors that lead to higher donor retention rates.

Amazon Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $24.88 – $39.19

Reader Review:

“I first read Building Donor Loyalty nearly a decade ago. Its lessons are as essential now as they were then. Carefully laying on fact after fact, Adrian and Elaine detail the recipe for successful fundraising in an friendly, common-sensical style. Even now, I see too few non-profits actually measuring their results and shaping their fundraising programs using the simple strategies advocated in this book. A baker follows a formula to bake bread that rises batch after batch. Using the fundraising recipes outlined in Building Donor Loyalty will help any nonprofit raise and sustain giving from its donors in campaign after campaign.”

3. Conducting a Successful Fundraising Program: A Comprehensive Guide and Resource

Kent E. Dove covers every aspect of fundraising from prospect research to corporate and foundation relations. Dove establishes in this book what he considers to be the “ten prerequisites” which will predict success in fundraising and how those prerequisites are crucial.

Amazon Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $14.92 – $97.72

Reader Review:

“A comprehensive resource guide to the many variables of nonprofit fundraising campaigns and events. Well-researched; well-written. Especially helpful was the resource section, which provided actual templates and word-for-word scripts — very applicable.”

4. Fundraising for Social Change

Fundraising for Social Change has been around for decades, always being updated to reflect changes in technology. This edition provides all of the useful information found in previous editions while also including new techniques and tips due to the technological advances in computing such as emails, online donations, blogs, and other aspects of giving in the information age.

Amazon Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $0.01 – $4.78

Reader Review:

“This book covers all types of fundraising–events, direct mail, phon-a-thons, personal requests and more. There is more than enough information on each of these topics to help you implement the strategy. She helps you to visualize your fundraising efforts within the entire context of your organization and over the years you will be in your community. Further, she reframes fundraising to help you understand that you are not “pitiful beggars” plaguing people with your requests for help, but actually helping people to make meaningful contributions to their community. I purchased several books on fundraising that turned out to be mistakes–and books on fundraising are not cheap. This book saved our organization its price within seconds of its purchase.”

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

While it is better and safer to have large lists of smaller donors rather than short lists of large donors, it is certainly beneficial to build relationships with those multi-figure donors. It’s Not Just About The Money 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 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $9.25 – $14.95

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.”

6. Making Money with Donor Newsletters

Reporting successes is key to keeping the donations coming into your organization and newsletters are the perfect way to announce those accomplishments. Tom Ahern will teach you the fundamentals to build the perfect newsletter and why they are vital to building donor retention.

Amazon Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $20.25 – $65.63

Reader Review:

“Even though I’m not responsible for writing our newsletters, 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.Tom is fun and engaging to see in person (or webinar) and I very highly recommend his latest book!”

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

Mobile fundraising is making a huge mark on the nonprofit scene as mobile device use surpasses desktop computer use. Heather Mansfield provides a “best practices” guide to making the most of your mobile fundraising efforts.

Amazon Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $6.95 – $26.55

Reader Review:

“Mobile For Good was great help for getting organisational buy-in for a social media strategy. I have no doubt that our soon-to-be implemented social media strategy will benefit my non-profit.

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. As a non-profit newbie, I got really excited about the prospects ahead of us taking more of a social approach to our online fundraising strategy.”

Definitely worth the read!

8. Relationship Fundraising: A Donor Based Approach to the Business of Raising Money

Communication is key when it comes to building relationships with your donors. Ken Burnett teaches all of the vital tips for successful fundraising communication in Relationship Fundraising, whether it be through mail, the press, fundraising software, television, the telephone, or face-to-face.

Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $14.98 – $51.30

Reader Review:

“Burnett skillfully shows how to satisfy “the bottom line” through a positive relationship with donors. Practical, relevant tips are offered for reaching out to potential donors and making them feel part of the mission. It’s a pleasure to see someone writing about “the psychology of fundraising.” A well-crafted, beneficial read.”

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

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 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $3.50 – $54.50

Reader Review:

“This book should be required reading for every non-profit 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. You can’t help but be a better fundraiser after reading this book.”

10. Successful Fundraising: A Complete Handbook for Volunteers and Professionals

As a nationally recognized fundraising expert, Joan Flanigan provides an easily referenceable handbook to all aspects and strategies of fundraising such as memberships, gifts, planned giving, cause-related marketing, and grants.

Amazon Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $0.01 – $37.00

Reader Review:

“Successful Fundraising is a great resource for non-profit agencies! It is very easy to read, straightforward, and actually a fun read too! Joan gives great examples and stories to illustrate her points.

I recently had the opportunity to attend one of Joan’s courses – and she is just as wonderful and helpful in person. She presents the daunting tasks of fundraising in simple language, common sense and humor.

This book should be the “bible” of every non-profit fundraiser!”

11. Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing

This winner of the AFP/Skystone Partners Prize is a fantastic step-by-step guide on discovering, attaining, and inspiring prospective gift givers. Discover all of the marketing slants you’ve been missing out on.

Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $35.62 – $41.70

Reader Review:

“Great book for fundraisers, development officers, and financial advisors focusing on charitable planning. It is filled with a ton of good marketing strategies and examples. Some of it may seem obvious but is actually much harder to implement.”

12. Effective Telephone Fundraising: The Ultimate Guide to Raising More Money

Telephone fundraising isn’t dead and Stephen F. Schatz is out to prove that it is actually a very lucrative source of funding for nonprofits. This guide will walk you through what you need to know in order to be an effective fundraiser over the phone by overturning objections, assessing giving potential, and building winning fundraising scripts.

Amazon Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Price Range: $28.69 – $49.00

Reader Review:

“There’s more in the book than just writing the script. That’s both good and bad. Writers, like myself, tend to like to get right into the writing part. But, in fundraising, it’s best to sneak up on the writing by way of the door of knowledge. That’s what the author does.

The book is rich with sample scripts. Unfortunately, the scripts don’t follow the suggestions the author makes in the book. But, they’re an excellent place to start.

This book will save you lots of time and it will help you make sure you have effective fundraising scripts for your clients or your organization.

The book is expensive, especially the Kindle version. But I must tell you that this is one book where I feel the book is worth the price — it’s an investment that pays big dividends.

Highly recommended.”


After you are done with this list you will be well on your way to catching up to my massive library! You will only be about three hundred forty books behind, but you can do it!

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

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


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 (; 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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)
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:

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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