Summer Reading List

With summer upon us and vacation season kicking-in to full gear, what better time than summer to catch up on some reading! Whether you’re looking to learn more about fundraising, build a better strategy for your personal philanthropy or looking to jump start your corporate giving, I’ve assembled a list of a few of my favorite books. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired and learn a little something along the way.


Essentials for Fundraising and Development: A Collection of Best Practices, Ideas and Strategies

Practical insights and fundraising activities to get your ministry funded and flourishing.

As Missio Nexus engages with mission agency leaders, one of their greatest expressed needs is for fundraising and development training and tools. It has been said that the right activities lead to the right outcomes. We believe this to be true, but that begs the question, what are the right activities? In this book, you will discover what a few of these right fundraising and development activities are.

Fundraising experts collaborated with us to bring practical insights that will help you and your agencies. No matter what your knowledge or skill in fundraising are, this book and its content will help you improve as a ministry and as ministry leaders.


From the Ground Up: Digital Fundraising for Nonprofits

From the Ground Up is a practical primer on the ways of understanding, building, designing and innovating an effective digital fundraising program. With a strong foundation, there’s no limit to what you will be able to build. With this book, you’ll have a firm grasp on the inner workings of:

  • Digital tools, platforms, offers and integrations
  • Websites that convert visitors into donors
  • Email marketing and best practices for increasing email revenue
  • Digital advertising strategies
  • Analytics and conversion tracking for measuring ROI
  • Design thinking for more donor-centric fundraising
  • Social media for impact and meaningful engagement
  • Introduction to donor journey mapping
  • Systems thinking as a means to future-proofing your charity


Asking Styles: Harness Your Personal Fundraising Power 

Andrea Kihlstedt shows us how to ask for gifts in a way that suits us best—according to key personality traits. Think about that. Even introverts can be extremely effective in asking for money. Wow. Kihlstedt identifies four Asking Styles (hence the title) that she calls Rainmakers, Go-Getters, Mission Controllers, and Kindred Spirits. Then she matches the person's Asking Style to the optimal approach for asking for a gift.

It's a simple and fast-reading book, yet has the potential to transform the world of philanthropy by enabling each of us to dramatically improve our personal effectiveness in asking for money.


Fundraising for Social Change

The bible of grassroots fundraising, updated with the latest tools and methods Fundraising for Social Change is the preeminent guide to securing funding, with a specific focus on progressive nonprofit organizations with budgets under $5 million. Used by nonprofits nationally and internationally, this book provides a soup-to-nuts prescription for building, maintaining, and expanding an individual donor program. Author Kim Klein is a recognized authority on all aspects of fundraising, and this book distills her decades of expertise into fundraising strategies that work. This updated seventh edition includes new information on the impact of generational change, using social media effectively, multi-channel fundraising, and more, including expanded discussion on retaining donors and on legacy giving. Widely considered the 'bible of grassroots fundraising,' this practically-grounded guide is an invaluable resource for anyone who has to raise money for important causes. A strong, sustainable fundraising strategy must possess certain characteristics. You need people who are willing to ask and realistic goals. You need to gather data and use it to improve results, and you need to translate your ideas in to language donors will understand. A robust individual donor program creates stable and long-term cash flow, and this book shows you how to structure your fundraising appropriately no matter how tight your initial budget.


The Essential Fundraising Handbook for Small Nonprofits

It’s time for the small nonprofit to shine. Finding the right tools and strategies for your nonprofit is the ultimate goal of The Essential Fundraising Handbook. Most fundraising books focus on nonprofits with large budgets, leaving smaller nonprofits to figure out what is relevant for their goals. That is the inspiration behind The Essential Fundraising Handbook for Small Nonprofits.

Currently, there are no fundraising books that comprehensively deal with the specific challenges of running a nonprofit on a small budget. Small nonprofits have a unique set of challenges and require a special kind of creativity when fundraising. The Essential Fundraising Handbook focuses on these challenges in a powerful way. Written by a panel of consultants and experts with over 112 combined years of experience, this book walks nonprofit leaders and staff through the techniques and strategies that have guided some of the most successful nonprofits (large and small). Using these successful principles, readers will get detailed case studies, worksheets, and strategies for almost every type of fundraising activity.


Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops: How to Leverage Your Annual Fund in Only Five Hours per Week

Amy Eisenstein guides you, in only five hours a week, to safely and surely meet the challenges of getting your organization ready for major gift fundraising, all the way up to that all-important ask—and beyond.

If you’ve been in fundraising for any length of time, you’ve no doubt heard of the “90/10 Rule.” In its simplest terms, it means that 90 percent of the funding comes from 10 percent of our donors. Yet far too often, the majority of our time is spent focused on low-yield fundraising activities, such as events. Amy argues that the key to successful long-term, sustainable fundraising lies in dramatically increasing your fundraising income from individual donors. And savvy fundraisers will do well to heed her advice. But how can you get started? With Amy at the helm, guiding you in developing your organization’s major gifts program, you’ll find it’s absolutely doable.


Fundraising Principles and Practice

The complete guide to fundraising planning, tools, methods, and more. Fundraising Principles and Practice provides a unique resource for students and professionals seeking to deepen their understanding of fundraising in the current nonprofit environment. Based on emerging research drawn from economics, psychology, social psychology, and sociology, this book provides comprehensive analysis of the nonprofit sector. The discussion delves into donor behavior, decision making, social influences, and models, then uses that context to describe today's fundraising methods, tools, and practices. A robust planning framework helps you set objectives, formulate strategies, create a budget, schedule, and monitor activities, with in-depth guidance toward assessing and fine-tuning your approach. Coverage includes online fundraising, major gifts, planned giving, direct response, grants, corporate fundraising, and donor retention, with an integrated pedagogical approach that facilitates active learning. Case studies and examples illustrate the theory and principles presented, and the companion website offers additional opportunity to deepen your learning and assess your knowledge.


Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count 

A practical guide to philanthropy at all levels of giving that seeks to educate and inspire. A majority of American households give to charity in some form or another--from local donations to food banks, religious organizations, or schools, to contributions to prevent disease or protect basic freedoms. Whether you're in a position to give $1 or $1 million, every giver needs to answer the same question: How do I channel my giving effectively to make the greatest difference?

In Giving Done Right, Phil Buchanan, the president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, arms donors with what it takes to do more good more quickly and to avoid predictable errors that lead too many astray. This crucial book will reveal the secrets and lessons learned from some of the biggest givers, from the work of software entrepreneur Tim Gill and his foundation to expand rights for LGBTQ people to the efforts of a midwestern entrepreneur whose faith told him he must do something about childhood slavery in Ghana. It busts commonly held myths and challenging the idea that "business thinking" holds the answer to effective philanthropy. And it offers the intellectual frameworks, data-driven insights, tools, and practical examples to allow readers to understand exactly what it takes to make a difference.


Money Well Spent 

“All outstanding philanthropic successes started with a smart strategic plan,” say authors Paul Brest, president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Hal Harvey, president of ClimateWorks. Money Well Spent explains how to create and implement a strategy that ensures meaningful results.  Components of a smart strategy include: achieving great clarity about one’s philanthropic goals, specifying indicators of success before beginning a project, designing and implementing a plan commensurate with available resources, evidence based understanding of the world in which the plan will operate, and paying careful attention to milestones to determine if you are on the path to success or if midcourse corrections are necessary. Drawing on examples from over 100 foundations and non-profits, Money Well Spent gives readers the framework they need to design a smart strategy, addressing such key issues as: effective use of tools—education, science, direct services, advocacy—that can achieve your objectives, how to choose the forms of funding to achieve stated goals, how to measure the impact of grants or programs, and when to be patient and stick with a winning strategy and when to abandon a strategy that isn’t working. This is a book for everyone who wants to get the most from a philanthropic dollar: donors, foundations, and non-profits.


Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential (Civil Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives)

Uncharitable is an unorthodox call to arms, inviting us to think beyond nonprofit ideology and bring economic freedom to the causes we love. Author Dan Pallotta argues that nonprofit ideology is a religious edifice that acts as a strict regulatory mechanism on natural economic law, thereby putting the nonprofit sector at an extreme disadvantage vis-a-vis the for-profit sector. In other words, the very system long cherished as the hallmark of American compassion undermines itself. This irrational system, Pallotta explains, has its roots in 400-year-old Puritan ethics that banished self-interest from the realm of charity.

Today, nonprofit ideology creates an economic apartheid that acts against charity's self-interest. While the for-profit sector is permitted to use all the tools of capitalism to advance the sale of consumer goods, the nonprofit sector is prohibited from using any of them to fight hunger or disease. Capitalism is blamed for creating the inequities in our society, but charity, by its own ideology, is prohibited from using capitalism's tools to rectify them, creating the most extreme injustice. By ridding ourselves of these obsolete ideas, Pallotta theorizes, we can dramatically accelerate progress on the most urgent social issues of our time. Pallotta has written an important, provocative, timely, and accessible book that seeks to remedy this wrong and that will forever change the way you think about "charity."


Change Your World: How Anyone, Anywhere Can Make a Difference 

Whatever the desire of your heart—better schools, better neighborhoods, more positive workplaces, more connected families, or more engaged communities—Change Your World will guide you through the entire process to take action and start making an impact today right where you are. You can bring about positive, lasting change in the world, and you don’t have to be rich and famous or lead a big organization to do it.

Global leadership and development icons John C. Maxwell and Rob Hoskins provide the inspiring and practical roadmap to get started being the change you want to see – in your community and beyond.

For many of us, the world we live in feels broken, yet change is easier than we think.  Learn from the firsthand experiences shared by the authors from their work helping to transform communities, businesses, and millions of lives around the world.


Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

The New York Times bestselling, groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite's efforts to "change the world" preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. An essential read for understanding some of the egregious abuses of power that dominate today’s news.

Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can--except ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. We see how they rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; how they lavishly reward "thought leaders" who redefine "change" in winner-friendly ways; and how they constantly seek to do more good, but never less harm. We hear the limousine confessions of a celebrated foundation boss; witness an American president hem and haw about his plutocratic benefactors; and attend a cruise-ship conference where entrepreneurs celebrate their own self-interested magnanimity.

Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes? He also points toward an answer: Rather than rely on scraps from the winners, we must take on the grueling democratic work of building more robust, egalitarian institutions and truly changing the world. A call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike.


The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community Is Changing the World

Globally recognized entrepreneur and founder of Taproot Foundation, Aaron Hurst, who helped create the $15 billion pro bono service market, argues in his latest book, The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community is Changing the World (April 2, 2014, Elevate), that while these developments seem unrelated at first, taken together they reveal a powerful pattern that points to purpose as the new driver of the American economy.


Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

In his long-awaited memoir, Yvon Chouinard-legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia, Inc.-shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on earth. From his youth as the son of a French Canadian blacksmith to the thrilling, ambitious climbing expeditions that inspired his innovative designs for the sport’s equipment, Let My People Go Surfing is the story of a man who brought doing good and having grand adventures into the heart of his business life-a book that will deeply affect entrepreneurs and outdoor enthusiasts alike.


Corporate Social Responsibility

Consumers, nowadays, expect companies to function based on higher public standards. Executives, at large or small corporations, realize that when their businesses operate according to the rules of social principles, they are going to enjoy its benefits such as higher profits, improved company reputation, and more satisfied employees. Philip Kotler, a marketing expert, and author, and Nancy Lee, a social marketing expert, define six ways on how you can develop and carry out a corporate social plan, in Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause. They thoroughly explain and evaluate each initiative by its chapter. They also include figurative examples of prosperous campaigns from top of the line corporations such as American Express, The Body Shop, and Ben & Jerry’s. Although their methods are sometimes redundant, the points are indispensable enough to disregard the repetitions.


Did you find these books helpful? Feeling inspired about your philanthropy? Know of other books that should be added to our list? Let us know!


About Rachel M. Decker

Having spent nearly 20 years in the nonprofit sector as an effective and strategic fundraising and foundation executive, Detroit Philanthropy Founder and President, Rachel Decker is passionate about helping others, making meaningful connections, solving problems and, most importantly, creating impact in our community. With the founding of Detroit Philanthropy, she turned that passion into a commitment to champion philanthropy throughout metro Detroit as a philanthropic advisor, fundraising consultant and speaker.

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