Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fundraising Summer Reading List

People often ask me what great donor relations books they should read to help them in their positions in fundraising and donor relations. I read a book or two a week during my commute so I have some thoughts here.  I can never point them to a definitive donor relations text, great ones just don't exist...yet... But I can give you a great summer reading list that will help you greatly in your career in nonprofit work. In reading these books I have found so much that applies to my daily life and my work life that I want to share them here with you. I don't get any royalties here so just enjoy them!

This book is a must read for anyone who works with people. Since that's 99.9% of us, that means you! I think so many of us have never been taught how to have difficult yet important conversations with people, our teammates, supervisors, etc. this book really helped me and I have attended some of their workshops and they were fabulous as well!

I don't care about your politics or your thoughts about the author, everyone, especially women in the fundraising world, should read this book. It has great points on mentoring, commitment, picking your battles and other topics that I just keep rereading over and over. It's my book of the year and just brilliant.

I just finished this book and boy did it help me a great deal to further understand some complicated relationships I have with people. Basically it's about how some people are givers and some are takers but by far the givers are both the Least and most successful people in the world. Many life an work lessons here and a great read about philanthropy too.

My first Vice President Cynthia Wood had our entire division read this wonderful little 100 page book. It helped change the culture of our internal workings and really some back office/front office dynamics that weren't that healthy. A great read for a group or retreat.


Another great read for a group activity or retreat, my good friend and mentor Denise Howard suggested this book to help more concretely assess my strengths and it delivered. I learned a great deal about myself and others through learning my strengths. A great idea is to map your team's strengths so you know who to go to for specific projects and their working styles.


I have mentioned it here before but Judge John Kralik's book on how writing 365 thank you notes changed his life is a phenomenal read and one especially powerful for those in fundraising and nonprofit work.

This book, written by the folks at Zappos is about customer service based culture and can truly be transformational for office culture and dynamics.

The three books recommended to me that I'm reading this summer are the following:


What are your must reads, besides a snappy weekly blog, ahem? I would love to have you share some titles in the comments below.

Thanks as always for your readership and participation!




  1. I also enjoyed "The Seven Faces of Philanthropy" by Prince and File.

  2. Five Good Minutes at Work by Jeffrey Brantly, MD and Wendy Millstine, NC 100 mindful practices to help you relieve stress and bring your best to work.

    Sherry Hogan

  3. Thanks for your contributions! I'll add them to my list!

  4. Think Like A Donor by Wayne Olson...a little pocket guide I use to help convince people of the benefits of donor relations.

  5. Lynne, thanks for pulling this great list together. I am currently reading "Contagious" by Jonah Berger ( It isn't about fundraising, but talks about his research into what makes an idea spread via word-of-mouth, whether offline or online. Could be helpful for fundraising professionals trying to get the word out about their cause.

  6. "One Word that will Change Your Life". I just started it and love it so far. Thought it might be a fun challenge for my team here at the OSU Foundation. I might challenge the group to discover their One Word in FY14. :)

  7. That's an interesting one... just added it

  8. Interestingly he also tested quite a few electric skateboardmotors whilst trying to determine the ideal wattage to use for his boards and what he found was that quite a few of them actually rated quite a bit under what they were labeled as (one of the leading brand's 500 watt motors only rated at 220 watts).