5 Best Books for Nonprofit Fundraising

Nonprofit Fundraising Books

Everybody’s got a book club these days, so we thought we’d better get in the mix too! The fundraising professionals on our team have centuries of combined experience and are currently raising millions of dollars for nonprofits all over the country. Who better to turn to for reading recommendations for the best nonprofit fundraising books?

Here are a few of the favorites you’ll find on the bookshelves of the Convergent team:

Donor-Centered Fundraising by Penelope Burke

Recommended by Joe April

Renowned researcher Penelope Burke has challenged accepted fundraising practices for years. Her book is a fundraising classic that includes strategies backed by statistics to extend donor loyalty and raise money. It will help you craft excellent donor communications, inspire repeat giving, and make your donors feel like philanthropists. Burke also supports the same donors-as-investors line of thinking that we model at Convergent, bucking conventional fundraising pitfalls to provide nonprofit investors with the information and recognition they deserve.

The Fundraisers Guide to Irresistible Communications by Jeff Brooks

Recommended by Jay Werth

This entertaining book gives you the tips you need to write and design communications like a seasoned fundraising professional. In Jeff’s own words: “You won’t find wild-eyed, speculative theories in this book. Just the solid, experiential practices. Nothing controversial — unless you’re in one of those marketing departments that makes it a practice of ignoring what works. This is the book you can show that meddling, know-it-all executive director or board member who insists on taking all the life and effectiveness out of our fundraising. See? An actual printed book says it should be like this!”

The Character of Leadership: Political Realism and Public Virtue in Nonprofit Leadership by Jinkins and Jinkins

Recommended by Carlotta Ungaro

While this book doesn’t address fundraising specifically, it does address how nonprofit leaders can influence others. And isn’t that what we as fundraisers are trying to do? Influence others to financially invest in our cause. According to Michael and Deborah Bradshaw Jinkins, the most effective leaders are those who combine the expertise of their discipline and their deeply held values with political skills, enabling their expertise and values to flourish in real-world conditions. This book includes compelling case studies of the political successes and failures of nonprofit leaders in a variety of roles from seminary presidents to leaders of social service agencies.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Recommended by Greta VonUnruh

Life is a series of negotiations, as is the world of nonprofit fundraising. This book, written by former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, is filled with stories of international high-stakes negotiations including a wide range of criminals such as bank robbers and terrorists. It leaves you with nine principles that you can use to become more persuasive. Voss’s strategies use emotional intelligence and intuition in a way we found refreshing as fundraisers, and we were able to put a few of them to work right away.

And the book that is always on our bookshelf…

Asking Rights: Why Some Nonprofits Get Funded (and some don’t)
written by Convergent Principal Tom Ralser

To be successful in today’s funding environment, you must keep the investor’s perspective in mind, utilize the advantages of rational asks, and always focus on the outcomes delivered. What are Asking Rights? They are the ability to deliver outcomes that are valuable to investors. This book distills the experience of hundreds of funding campaigns into easily digestible bites, including the ingredients for Asking Rights (Credibility, Fundraising Skills, and Outcomes), and the recipe for combining them into a successful funding effort.

Whether you’re headed to the beach or the pool this summer… or even just looking for a lunch-hour read at the office, pick up one of these books (or all of them!). They will give your fundraising expertise a boost and help put your nonprofit on the path to a sustainable future.


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