Pamela’s List – The Best in Nonprofit Books

February 26, 2009

We all learn differently.

My daughter, Samantha, is a visual learner and an avid reader.  She has always learned best by reading.  My other daughter, Abigail, on the other hand, has never cared for reading.  She learns best in the classroom or a one on one setting and has always appreciated audiobooks.

I must confess that it’s rare that I’ve attended any grantwriting workshop or “how to” seminar for development professionals where a light bulb has gone off in my head and I couldn’t wait to get back to my office to implement the new strategies presented.

One notable exception was the Donor Centered Fundraising course given by Penelope Burke.  She is a masterful presenter and I was busy jotting down ideas throughout her workshop.

But, whether you’re like me and you’ve attended countless grantwriting workshops and read enough nonprofit “how to” guides to fill a small library, or you’re a novice development staffer looking for a way to weed through all the grantwriting advice out there, it helps to have a list of the essentials.

I can’t stand time-wasters.   The following reference books feature cut-to-the-chase, crème de la crème of nonprofit development advice, culled from over fifteen years of reading and attending workshops and seminars:

Grant Proposal Writing
How to Write Knockout Proposals: What You Must Know (And Say) to Win Funding Every Time by Joseph Barbato. You’ll be amazed that all the information you need to craft compelling grant proposals is contained in this slim volume.
Storytelling for Grantseekers: A Guide to Creative Nonprofit Fundraising
by Cheryl A. Clarke. After years of reviewing grant proposals for a grant making foundation, I came to appreciate the storytelling approach. Learn how to make your reader care enough to fund you.
Five Days to Foundation Grants. This is my own self-published book, written after spending six years reviewing proposals for a grant-making organization and six years writing grant proposals. It is the quintessential resource for new development professionals, teaching you everything you need to know to research foundations (without expensive subscriptions) and how to write to target the foundations you are approaching. Comes with a tracking database and book of sample proposals as well.

Annual Appeal Writing and Campaign Development
Direct mail will never die and to master this medium, you’ll be best served by any book by Mal Warwick. I recommend Revolution in the Mailbox: Your Guide to Successful Direct Mail Fundraising (The Mal Warwick Fundraising Series) by Mal Warwick for the ultimate primer on running a successful annual appeal.

Marketing guru Dan Kennedy will tell you that new customer acquisition is very expensive. Most businesses can, instead, at least double their sales without adding a single new customer. The increases are readily available within their own present and past customer base. Donor-Centered Fundraising by Penelope Burke offers an extension of that sage marketing advice for the nonprofit world.

Even seasoned nonprofit professionals tend to pay more attention to their “top donors” – those rarified individuals who may have lately given $10,000 – while ignoring their long-time loyal donor base, many who have been giving $25-50 over a period of twenty to thirty years.

Penelope leads you, step by step, through the all important steps to retain your donor base.

Using the Web
Fundraising on the Internet: The’s Guide to Success Online, 2nd Edition by Mal Warwick
If there’s anything Barack Obama’s election has taught us it is that fundraising via the Internet has come of age. Without his brilliant Internet strategy, the right-wing Faux News Media could have easily taken Obama down. Even the smallest nonprofit needs to buck up and begin an effective Internet fundraising campaign.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracy Moavero September 24, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Fundraising for Social Change by Kim Klein. Kim is practically worshiped by fundraisers with grassroots orgs. She understands the realities of how the groups work, and how vital small, individual donations are to building a strong and effective organization. Lots of very practical, how-to advice.

Pamela Grow September 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Thanks for the reminder Tracy – I love Kim Klein too! Saw her speak once and she was truly inspirational.

Ben Stock July 17, 2010 at 10:29 am

Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications by
Sarah Durham
I’m reading this now. It’s *****.
Ben Stock of Brainpower

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