These 5 Books Can Help You in Your Fundraising Career (Recommended By Jim O’Brien)

These 5 Books Can Help You in Your Fundraising Career (Recommended By Jim O’Brien)

5 fundraising books - jim

This month, it is Jim O’Brien’s turn to share his five best fundraising books. Jim O’Brien is a highly sought-after fundraising professional with more than twenty years’ experience in developing and leading teams and programs in healthcare and higher education. He is a senior fundraising consultant at AskRIGHT.


AskRIGHT fundraising consultants regularly share insights on fundraising to help you raise more money for your important cause. Make sure you follow AskRIGHT on Twitter and LinkedIn to receive our updates!


1Achieving Excellence in FundraisingAchieving Excellence in Fundraising by Eugene R. Tempel, Timothy L. Seiler, Eva E. Aldrich

I wish this book had been written when I started my career in fundraising.  It is the comprehensive and authoritative guide to the principles and practices of fundraising.

Whether you are a senior professional, a serious student or a mid-career professional looking to take the next step in your career, this book covers the territory impeccably.


Chief Development Officer - Beyond Fundraising2. Chief Development Officer: Beyond Fundraising by Ronald J. Schiller

This is one book that I have recommended to a number of my colleagues, particularly for those taking on an expanded leadership role. It is all about managing your work environment.

As so well described in the book, the role now includes:  relationship builder, shaper of culture, strategist, thought partner, flag bearer, sight raiser, talent magnet and mentor.

The book draws on Ron’s own experience as well as fascinating insights from interviews with a range of fundraising and other organisational leaders.

Ron reminds us that surviving and succeeding as the head of fundraising takes more than fundraising expertise.


3. Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. CialdiniInfluence, the Psychology of Persuasion

This classic in the field summarises well the research on why people say ‘yes.’  The book is hugely important to everyone in the business of engaging potential donors, volunteers and others in supporting their work.  Nowadays, we are continually asking and being asked to make commitments, get involved, collaborate and participate.


Whether you are thinking about how to organise your giving webpage, design an annual appeal, or build mutually beneficial relationships with your lead donors, this book has something to offer.



talent is overrated4. Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, Geoff Colvin

While talent may be overrated as a key to success, the concept ‘deliberate practice’ is under-appreciated.  Whether you are learning piano, how to play a sport, asking for gifts, or growing a fundraising team, the key to excellence is deliberate practice – focussed repetition designed to improve performance with the help of a teacher and mentor, and feedback.

The book provides a useful reminder that experts literally perceive and understand the world of their fields differently than novices.

If you want to get better at asking for money, ask more people, more often, reflect and learn from your mistakes.


The Tipping Point - How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference5. The Tipping Point:  How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

Author, journalist and staff writer for The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell brings his sharp intellect to analyse the process where certain ideas and products seem to suddenly take off and others fail.

Drawing on observations on how epidemics progress, the distinctions he makes provide a useful framework for describing and ultimately creating change.  Fundraising is about ideas that stick, about making a difference and about building and engaging communities and its diverse personalities.

The Tipping Point offers a useful model to think broadly about the building blocks for engaging and moving broad constituencies, not just individuals.


What about you? What are your five top fundraising books?  Join the discussion on LinkedIn!

Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

Senior Fundraising Consultant at AskRIGHT
Jim O’Brien is a highly sought-after fundraising professional with more than twenty years’ experience fundraising leadership. He is committed to supporting organisations and communities raise more money and develop results-oriented strategies.

Jim is based in Sydney. To find out how Jim can help your organisation, contact
Jim O'Brien

Comments are closed.