Five Books to Read this Year

It’s no secret that here at Fish Community Solutions we think education is important. It is one of the keystones in which our business was built, we have a scholarship program to ensure education opportunities take place, and, we’ve written in this blog before about the importance of professional development.

It is important that as fundraisers and people working in the charity sector, we should want to keep ourselves relevant to the work we do. One economical way to do this is to read books. Just over three years ago we also did a post about a few great books to read in the fundraising sector, but today, we’d like to take a new perspective on this topic. We’ve got five must-read book recommendations from five people with great experience in the charity sector (well four people, and me, haha). Take a look…

Achieving Excellence in Fundraising – Vicki James’ Recommendation

Hank Rosso’s 3rd edition ‘Achieving Excellence in Fundraising’ is my fundraising bible. You would think that despite the additions to the 3rd edition being made in 2010 this book would be outdated and obsolete. Instead it’s what I love so much about the book! This book focuses on the basics of fundraising that I often feel have been forgotten or even lost in translation as newer information and innovation have come to hand. Without the basics of fundraising there is no sustenance and no history!

Vicki James is the Regional Relationship Manager at CareFlight Rescue. She has worked in fundraising for 12 years, following five years as a volunteer for a cancer charity. She is also a member of the Fundraising Institute of Australia’s Queensland Executive Committee.

The Most Good You Can Do – Patricia Burke’s recommendation

In essence, Peter Singer’s latest book, The Most Good You Can Do, is about changing the mindset of people so they are more giving – more altruistic – and less self-focused; which is most probably an uphill climb in western cultures.  In the book, I took inspiration from Singer’s good stories of ordinary people of ordinary means who give, and give more than usual, and the why behind their giving – what motivates them to give so generously.

His discussion of true effective altruism and the actions of those altruists is centred around the core idea of ‘doing the most good (we) can’.  And doing the most good includes more than just giving a larger part of our income, but researching and planning our giving to achieve the most impact, choosing paid work that enables us to earn well so we ‘can do more good’, spreading effective altruism through talking to others about giving, and even to giving part of our bodies – whether it be blood donations or organ donations – to strangers.

The book looks at effective altruism as a movement and delves into the ways to do the most good, the motivations and justifications behind those actions, and to thoughtfully choosing causes and organisations to support. I would recommend this book to anyone whether they are early in their giving journey or well-advanced.  It is rich with wisdom and challenges the reader to think differently and more bravely about giving so that it becomes a much greater, deeper part of our lives.

Patricia Burke has been in non-profit board and committee leadership roles for many years.  Her role now is at Philanthropy Australia and in her non-work time, she is a co-founder of a giving circle, the Melbourne Women’s Fund. 
Strategic Database Marketing – Steven Banks’ Recommendation

It might seem a bit boring but it’s essential!

My recommendation is ‘Strategic Database Marketing’, by Arthur M Hughes.  24 essential techniques are listed in the first chapter, which I found most helpful in gauging whether we had covered the fundamentals – and to understand their importance to direct response lottery fundraising. As a fundraiser I prefer to focus on renewal programs, and associated marketing techniques, that help deliver sustainable net surpluses.

Steven Banks is an experienced fundraiser living in Queensland. His business, Aspire Non Profit Consulting, specialises in Lottery Management and Design for charities.

Ask Without Fear – Kerri Price’s Recommendation

I’m a bit fussy when it comes to books. I simply don’t have time for ‘fluff and jargon’, so a book has to give me practical ideas in an easy-to-digest way, otherwise I just stop reading and move on to the next one. That’s one of the reasons I LOVE ‘Ask Without Fear‘ by Marc A. Pitman.

Marc’s book is a guide to connecting donors to what matters to them most, and it is written in such a down-to-earth, easy to digest style. Marc is a professional fundraiser based in the USA and he shares personal stories of times when his ‘asks’ worked, and times when they really, really didn’t. As much as anything, it reminds you that you’re not alone on this fundraising journey.

Kerri Tilby-Price has been involved in the community sector for 20 years and has worked with organisations of every size and scale. She is currently CEO of Exult Ltd, a private training institute that provides training and support to the non-profit sector throughout New Zealand.
The Zen of Fundraising – The Fish Chick’s Recommendation

And, lastly, one of my own recommendations for a must-read if you haven’t already is Ken Burnett’s ‘The Zen of Fundraising‘. (Yes, I’m a big fan of Mr Burnett!) This book is a simple, easy-to-read book that really gets to the heart of what matters in fundraising; donors. Key to Burnett’s book are the relationship fundraising philosophies he has long talked about and spruiked (and rightly so) for decades.

Throughout 89 ‘nuggets of information’ he explains what makes donors tick, why they are motivated to give and why it is so important for us to understand this. I first read The Zen of Fundraising when i was relatively new to fundraising and then read it again more recently. Both times I loved it and felt it was truly a valuable read.

So there you have it; five highly recommended books for you to read throughout 2016. Grab one of them, pour yourself a cup of tea, and get reading. And if you have another great read for the year, let us know what it is by commenting below.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

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