These 5 Books Can Help You in Your Fundraising Career (recommended by Wayne McKenzie)

These 5 Books Can Help You in Your Fundraising Career (recommended by Wayne McKenzie)

These 5 Books Can Help You in Your Fundraising Career (Wayne McKenzie)

Wayne McKenzie, an esteemed and award winning fundraising professional with more than 25-year experience working with charities in New Zealand, shares his five favourite fundraising books. Wayne McKenzie did not select them because they were the five best fundraising books ever written. They are the ones he goes back to time and again, for inspiration, references and reminders.

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The following books are placed in alphabetical order, not order of importance.


1. Achieving Excellence in FundraisingAchieving Excellence in Fundraising

by Eugene Temple, Tim Seiler and Eva Aldrich.

With no disrespect to the editors, my favourite version is the original by Hank Rosso, which admittedly has been enhanced with research and evidence-based graphs, charts and so much more. Alongside this volume, I cannot separate it from and refer often to the ‘big red’, the Fundraising 101 – Principles and Techniques of Fundraising course from The Fund Raising School at Indiana University, and the basis of the FIA and FINZ Certificate in Fundraising Course.

I should admit, however, that sitting on my shelf next to this volume is its equal: Fundraising Principles and Practice by Adrian Sargeant, Jen Shang and Associates.


Breakthrough Thinking for non-profit organisations2. Breakthrough Thinking for non-profit organisations. Creative Strategies for Extraordinary Results.

By Bernard Ross and Clare Segal


This is not a fundraising how-to, but a goldfield to dig into and keep the mind thinking creatively about non-profit organisations and fundraising strategy.

One of the most helpful insights for me was the Japanese concept of Kaizen and Horshen. This is in reference to goal setting: the difference between slow incremental improvement, and sudden radical exponential growth, and differentiating that from fantasy.

The book helps you to deal with unlocking potential, releasing creativity, creating a smart organisation, and challenging mindsets. Even if you can’t use it with others in your team or organisation, it will be great for personal development.


Mega Gifts – who gives them who gets them3. Mega Gifts – who gives them, who gets them.

By Jerold Panas

This was written before his other excellent book ‘Asking’, which Lisa Harris listed as one of her favourites last month.  If she hadn’t listed it, I would have.

Both AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) and FRI (Fund Raising Institute) said this is one of the most important books ever written on fundraising. I like it and go back to it often because it gives insights into donors of large gifts. To write the book, Panas interviewed 50 men and women who made gifts of $1million or more and collected data from more than a thousand fundraising professionals.

He tells us why people give mega gifts, and what they expect in a fundraiser. The book concludes with a list of 62 tenets for success, each one worth considering and meditating on, one day at a time.

But take a tip from one reader, the President of a College: “I started reading Mega Gifts late at night. That was a mistake. I couldn’t put it down”.


Relationship Fundraising4.  Relationship Fundraising – a donor-based approach to the business of raising money.

By Ken Burnett

This is a classic. If there was a list of required reading for fundraisers, this should be on that list. He has been quoted in many articles and seminars.

  • People give to people. Not to organisations, mission statements, or strategies.
  • Fundraising is not about money. It’s about necessary work that urgently needs doing. Money is the means to an end.
  • It helps if you are a donor yourself. No one should be a fundraiser without first being a donor.
  • First, open their hearts and minds. Then you can open their wallets.


For all the new ideas and techniques that are promulgated each year at conferences and seminars, none surpass the wisdom outlined in this volume. There are profiles of donors to keep it focussed and grounded. There are action points for every chapter.

This book is an antidote to the aggressive direct marketing approaches like those that cause my mother-in-law and other donors to become exasperated with charities that don’t listen to them, and don’t respond to their requests such as mail preferences.

This is very readable, a great reference and learning resource.


The Holy Bible5. The Holy Bible

Many authors

You may think this an unusual choice. However, it has several great examples of fundraising. For instance, a banquet that raised the equivalent of US$400 million for a capital campaign to build a temple, and one of the first regular giving programs to be widely promoted and implemented to aid the poor.

In addition to the principles and techniques for a fundraiser that may be found, there are many examples and copious teaching for donors about how and why and when to give. This is one of the main reasons why religious and faith-based organisations raise so much money. People are not only asked to give but are taught, inspired and challenged about how and why and when to give.


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


Wayne McKenzie

Wayne McKenzie

Senior Fundraising Consultant at AskRIGHT
Wayne McKenzie is an esteemed and award winning fundraising professional with more than 25 year experience working with charities in New Zealand.

To find out how Wayne can help your organisation, contact
Wayne McKenzie

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