Books: ‘Fundraising for Dummies'
Gulf Coast residents dealing with the oil that's spilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Haiti's homeless earthquake survivors seeking shelter for the hurricane season. Actors starting a nonprofit theater company. Whether fundraisers plan to solve environmental or humanitarian disasters, or otherwise improve the quality of life, the authors of the third edition of "Fundraising for Dummies" think they can help them accomplish their goals.
Katherine Murray and John Mutz delve into how fundraisers can, for instance, explore the world of social media to cut costs while increasing donations. Here, the authors tell FundRaising Success what nonprofits can do to survive and thrive past 2010.
FS: How does this book add ress challenges fundraisers are seeing in this economy?
Katherine Murray and John Mutz: Almost one half of the original [book] was rewritten with the tough economy in mind. We wanted to talk about not only fundraising in tight times, but a bigger and even more important topic — how to fundraise when the boat is pitching and swaying. We all know the economy is inching back toward stability, but we've been living through some tough lessons — most notably, "How do we do what we do when the bottom falls out of our fundraising?" We include lots of ideas of ways you can assess next steps, make tough calls, help support your board and trim the fat in your budget. We also help fundraisers think ahead — not just to the days when there will be plenty, but to the days in both the near and distant future as we continually reassess our needs and our goals.
The third edition also includes a full chapter on social media and much more on using the Web to do research, make contacts, and share what used to go by print and mail. (This can be a huge money saver, by the way, and rescue a few trees in the process.) We also talk about reworking strategic plans with new priorities, using PR to replace paid advertising, continuing smart planned-giving programs, rekindling of your passion around the cause, connecting with your donors in authentic ways and keeping your chin up — because this is truly a noble profession where lots of good work gets done.
FS: How does the book deal with the changing face of fundraising?
KM and JM: Over the last several years, everything has gotten more personal — the Internet, social media, programs, nonprofits, you name it. Today, people have more choices — and are more aware [of] and interested in making those choices than they were a decade ago. This version of the book reduces the amount of time and space spent on items that might take a lot of effort and investment for you to see a return (for example, long-term corporate campaigns) and helps you see what you can do today to bring a dollar in the door. We help you see how you can use electronic means to reduce your print and mail expenses, slice and dice your fundraising list to be more targeted in your appeals, and much more.
This isn't "fire sale" fundraising. This is finding the best possible fit between the needs of your organization and what your donors can realistically and authentically give, while holding [on to] the intention of honoring and growing your relationship with your donors over time. That's the real heart of fundraising — creating relationships with donors who truly care for and feel like a valued part of your organization.
FS: Why should fundraisers who already have an earlier edition of this book buy the new edition?
KM and JM: The short answer here is that the profession has changed, the economy has changed and people's attention spans have changed. The third edition of the book is, by far, the most in sync with the times because of the emphasis we place on the valued relationship with the donor. Years ago, people may have given to your cause because of the reputation of your organization or someone on your board. Today, the donor wants to know how your organization connects with them — where they are, in what they care about and where they want to make a difference. It's a real paradigm shift, and it's a great one on which awake and aware organizations can build a real, growing relationship with engaged donors.
This book also shows you how to use inexpensive and even free means to reach and build your audience, craft and spotlight your brand, and work with Web technologies to get the word out.
FS: The new edition provides predictions for the future of fundraising and tips on how professionals can meet the challenges. Can you provide some examples of these predictions and tips?
KM and JM: There are lots of ideas in our chapter about the future. Two big ones that come to mind are fundraisers' careful attention to the female point of view in fundraising and the role of nonprofits in community leadership in the future. (There are more ideas in the chapter.)
FS: Do you know if big or small organizations are buying it? Who can benefit the most from this advice?
KM and JM: We wrote the book both for single-person fundraising offices and those new to development in larger roles. It is meant to be a one-stop shop for someone just getting started, and we know that people are using [it] as a resource and a reference in development offices of all kinds and sizes.
FS: How will fundraisers be able to connect with this book?
KM and JM: We think that all aspects of fundraising really begin in the heart and personality of the individual. So we hope that, first and foremost, fundraisers connect with the book on a personal level. Fundraising isn't for everyone, but it really is a noble and important profession. The work fundraisers do helps bring what's needed to keep the doors open, to get the work done, to serve the people and the planet.
After fundraisers connect with the heart of mission in the book, we hope they'll feel empowered professionally to try some of the ideas, get creative with their strategies, think about how to get their board excited and begin pumping some new life into their fundraising appeals. We feel we've captured the tension between the normal optimism of the idealistic fundraiser and the real world. It can be a challenge, and it's not without its obstacles, but it is definitely still a journey worth taking. FS