In our work, regardless of the the cause we are passionate about it or the job title we have, we have to recognize that it isn’t all about the “function” of our work. Do you work in a communications department? It isn’t always about social media. Do you work on the development team? Well, it isn’t always about fundraising. Blasphemy, I know! But, that’s just one of the reaons why I love Larry C. Johnson’s new book, The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising. And I want to share a few gems with you!

Gem #1 – Put fundraising in your mission.

In this book, Larry starts at the beginning (that’s even how he describes it!) with the mission of the organization. You have to figure this out first! Your board has to know the mission, and keep it in mind in their role forming the strategic vision of the organization. Fundraising should have a clear role in helping you meet that mission. If it is something separate, your doomed. Larry very rightly points out: If you position fundraising as separate from meeting your mission, donors won’t see why their donations are creating the impact they are interest in.

Gem #2 – Work from the inside out.

This is a great concept and one I often see organization willing to internalize, but not for fundraising. I am often asked by organizations about how they can get their staff to adopt a new tool or platform. You have to start inside the organization. Treat your colleagues like the most important community segment. That means you give them direct training and support, show them how it helps the organization and their own work, etc. When the external community sees your staff using a community platform, a knowledge management resource, or another shared online space it says to them that the organization actually cares and is invested in both collaboration and the resource itself. And that is the best tone you can set! So why would it be any different with fundraising!

Gem #3 – I have an extra copy for you!

That’s right! Larry was kind enough to send me an extra copy that I could give away to a lucky commenter. Please share in the comments below either what your current struggle is or your latest lesson learned with fundraising for your organization. All comments will be entered to win and I’ll draw a name at random this Friday, May 11th, at 5 pm EST.

Looking forward to hearing what you’re working on!

Book Review and Giveaway: The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising
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  • Ann Rosenfield

    Pick me! The chairty I work for does AWESOME work with a holistic, innovative approach to social services.

    I want to double annual gross revenu from current level to $2MM/year and donors to 2000 by 2014 and can use all the advice – can get.

    • Hi Ann- Thanks for your comment! I’ll choose at random (I really do write down everyone’s name and put it in a bowl) but appreciate you adding a bit of background on what you’re working on. I would encourage you to visit the book’s website as there are some excerpts as well as other resources posted there:

  • Joyce Klemperer

    This is such an important topic and one that needs a fresh look. Donors and potential donors need opportunities to feel part of your mission, not just a source of funds. I say this as a supporter of many organizations, as someone who helps fundraise and plan fundraising, and as someone who sometimes feels inundated with fundraising letters, emails and telephone calls from organizations with whom I have no relationship at all. It’s so important to use the available technology to do more sophisticated donor analysis and to plan campaigns that reach out to the right people in the right way.

    • Thanks for your comment, Joyce! I really appreciate your perspective, speaking from both sides of the fundraising effort, that donors want to feel like part of the mission. You will certainly read more about that, and about how you can position donors to see their impact, in Larry’s book!

  • Amy H

    My current struggle is making sense of all the data we have and how we
    can use it to make better fundraising and marketing decisions. Data about donors and donations is very overwhelming. Who gives, how
    often do they give, how much do they give, is it project-specific or
    unrestricted, etc. As fundraisers, we must make sense of all this information to refine and improve our approach.

    • Hi Amy! Thanks for your comment and sharing some of your experiences. You touch on something that I think is universal to all those working in the nonprofit sector: data can be very overwhelming! Ensuring that we are using the data to make decisions and refine our strategy is essential – otherwise we will just keep collecting more data and looking at numbers and paralyze ourselves!

  •  My nonprofit, founded in 1984, has survived on a shoestring budget and with the passion of dedicated volunteers. I think we have a great opportunity now to spread that passion more broadly and to better engage more people, but it’s also a challenge to do that well. Our old way of fundraising is not going to work because we’ve been engaged in letting go of the old way we reached out to parents – via printed publications, and we’re moving slowly into web-based and social media. Our infrastructure needed big updates too — I’ve put in place some open source tools that should help (I’m using CiviCRM to track donors).

    I like the “sustainable” idea in the title! That’s what we need–ongoing, sustainable support for our work.

    We joined NPTECH a few months ago, and what we’ve learned has already been very helpful. Thanks, Amy, for your work and for letting us know about this book. 

    • Hi Catherine-

      Thanks so much for your comment here. I think it is interesting that you offer up your organization as an example of one struggling in this new space – I feel like I actually see organizations about as old as yours have a good deal of struggle culturally in the organization and with the tools, whereas newer and then older organizations recognize the need to adapt to stay relevant and on top of change. It sounds like your organization is lucky to have you there helping them evolve!

      So glad you joined NTEN as well – great to have you in this community.

  • Gcraig

    Interesting take to put fundraising in the mission.  Not so sure on that, so will have to win the book to determine the why!  I concur with the issue of trying to organize all the data in a cost effective way, so that revenue is ultimately maximized.  I also have a unique challenge where my foundation has its roots in successful community events that need to be better subbranded back to the foundation.  Of course this is while trying to navigate the optimal investment and content in the today’s socially connected world!

    • Gcraig – Very interesting! I’d love to hear more about the community events your foundation supports and the subbranding issues. Is it a grantmaking foundation or a fundraising foundation? Either way, you’re in the running for the book!

  • sqlaugh

    I am a freelance fundraiser and grant writer with over 15 years experience in fund development, special events and grass roots organizing for not profits.  I have found that it is absolutely necessary for organizations to utilize fundraising as part of their mission.  On top of this it is key for all members of the Board of Directors to understand that fundraising and soliciting donors is going to be one of their most important responsibilities.  I have been to Larry Johnsons’ workshops and he knows his stuff! Thank you for the opportunity to snag a copy of his book.

    • Thanks so much for joining in! I appreciate hearing that you’ve been to Larry’s workshops and are a fan – the book is certainly filled with both perspective and lessons as well as resources to work through with your staff to improve your fundraising.

  • And the winner is: Gcraig! (All comments were assigned a number, and I use the number generator to select a winner). Congrats on your free book!