These 5 Books Can Help You in Your Fundraising Career (recommended by Lisa Harris)

These 5 Books Can Help You in Your Fundraising Career (recommended by Lisa Harris)

These 5 Books Can Help You in Your Fundraising Career (Lisa Harris)

Lisa Harris, an award-winning fundraiser with more than twenty years’ experience, shares the five best fundraising books in her library. Whether they have been recommended to her or they resonated with her when she first picked them up, she reads these books, again and again. And they continue to help her.


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


Asking- A 59-Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers, and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift1. Asking: A 59-Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers, and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift

by Jerold Panas  (Author), Foreword by Ken Blanchard (Author)

I loved this book. Its folksy, easy-to-read approach makes it a good book to lend or give to your Board or senior staff.  I enjoyed chapters like 14, “You won’t get milk from a cow by sending it a letter”. I loved this book so much I loaned it to someone and they obviously loved it too as they haven’t returned it. I’ll be buying another copy.


Iceberg Philanthropy- Unlocking Extraordinary Gifts from Ordinary Donors2. Iceberg Philanthropy: Unlocking Extraordinary Gifts from Ordinary Donors

by Fraser Green  (Author), Beth McDonald (Contributor), Jose van Herpt

In a nutshell, this book is about bequests or legacy giving. But what it offers is a compendium of basic fundraising knowledge that makes great reading for the beginner fundraiser or someone who just wants to revise their learning.

I usually measure how much I enjoyed a book by the number of post-it notes I’ve placed in chapters that interested me. I’ve put wall-to-wall post-it notes in this book.


Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops- How to Leverage Your Annual Fund in Only Five Hours per Week3. Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops: How to Leverage Your Annual Fund in Only Five Hours per Week

by Amy Eisenstein (Author)

This is a great practical guide to getting a Major Gifts program underway in small not-for-profit organisations. Amy Eisenstein gives you step by step and easy to understand instructions on how to turn five hours per week into a Major Gifts program. Important pieces of advice are highlighted throughout the book. Gems such as:

  • When people fail to raise major gifts, it’s because they think about it, and stress about it, more than they actually do it!
  • The number one reason people give is because they’re asked.
  • End your donation letter with a PS – many people will skip your entire letter (no matter how well written) and go directly to the PS because it stands out.

Simone Joyaux (see below #5) reviewed the book on Amazon, gave it five stars and said, “This book is your inspiration and tool. This book is your guide and helping-hand.” I heartily concur.


Presenting to Win - The Art of Telling Your Story4. Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story

by Jerry Weissman

Jerry Weissman got his career start working in television and as a freelance screenwriter and novelist. He got his start as a corporate communications specialist in 1987 when he was offered a new Compaq computer in exchange for coaching Rod Canion, Compaq’s CEO on making an effective presentation. Weissman shares how to persuade audiences in our everyday communications.

He writes that “the effective presenter makes it easy for the audience to grasp ideas without having to work.  The effective presentation story leads the audience to an irrefutable conclusion. The journey gives the audience a psychological comfort level that makes it easy for them to say “yes” to whatever the presenter is proposing. Presenting, therefore, is essentially selling.”


5. Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That LastStrategic Fund Development - Building Profitable Relationships That Last

by Simone P. Joyaux (Author)

This excellent book was recommended to me by a former work colleague. In the book’s foreword, Tim J. Burchill writes that the “heart and soul” of Joyaux’s writing includes the facts that:

“…successful philanthropic fundraising is the product of the intentional, strategic, and consistent building and nurturing of relationship with an ever-expanding pool of stakeholders….”and “…volunteers remain critical to the fundraising process and to the validation of the legitimacy of the not-for-profit organizations.”

If you have not read Joyaux’s book, it’s worth investing in. My copy has become another post-it note paradise.

PS: Also worth noting is Joyaux’s partner, Tom Ahern. He is a direct mail specialist and a great learning resource. His wisdom is available free on his website  I love Ahern’s advice as it’s succinct and it works and he’s funny. And Ahern references other fundraising professionals, so your learning just goes on and on.


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


Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris

Fundraising Consultant at AskRIGHT
Lisa is an award-winning fundraiser with more than twenty years’ experience in philanthropy for the arts.
To find out how Lisa can help your organisation, contact
Lisa Harris

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