The great fundraiser’s bookshelf

Where do you start, if you want to find the best books on fundraising? Look no further: welcome to the great fundraiser's bookshelf. With help from fundraisers around the world, SOFII has assembled a list of around 150 great fundraising books. About thirty of these have already been reviewed on SOFII, and we encourage readers to submit their own reviews of the others. It’s easy to do, just follow the links below for a handy guide.

You can find an introduction to the great fundraiser's bookshelf here along with ways to get in touch, and the full list is here. We look forward to hearing from you.

The six essential building blocks of fundraising success

by Roewen Wishart

A fundraising text from Australia is unusual, says Roewenn Wishart. Read his review of Yes You Can Fund It by Shannon Anderson, which he says is well worth reading whether you’re new to fundraising or an old hand.

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Advertising’s earliest genius and how he can help your advertisements to work better, predictably

by Claude Hopkins

You shouldn’t miss Claude C Hopkins’ new book.

Actually Scientific Advertising was first published 91 years ago, so new it really isn’t. But if its content is new to you, says SOFII’s reviewer, this concise classic can still teach you valuable lessons to improve your communication skills and enhance your career too. Hopkins was, by rather a long way, the highest paid advertising person of his generation. Find out why here

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Practical advice on how to make the most of social media

by Alisha Fernandez Miranda & Alissa Steiner

A practical guide to social media for charities and social enterprises, published as a free service for charities by Unity Trust Bank and Social Misfits Media, London. 

Reviewed for SOFII by PhD researcher Suay Melisa Ozkula.

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Which of our ads will work best, where, when and why?

by John Caples

‘I have seen one mail-order advertisement actually sell not twice as much, not three times as much but nineteen and a half times as much merchandise as another ad for the same product. Both were run in the same publication. Both had photographic illustrations. Both had carefully written copy. The difference was that one used the right appeal and the other used the wrong appeal.’



So said the legendary John Caples. Is that worth knowing? You bet. Read our review of a timeless fundraising classic here.

Reviewed for SOFII by Ken Burnett. 

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Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success

by Dan Hill

‘The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter’, said the Roman philosopher Cicero. It is so much more eloquent than ‘facial coding’. Yet this core of Dan Hill’s Emotionomics could be extremely important to your fundraising. 

Reviewed for SOFII by Charlie Hulme.

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The Fundraiser’s Guide to Irresistible Communications

by Jeff Brooks

It’s a virtual truism that each generation of copywriters and fundraisers must fight the same battles over and over again. Boards, CEOs, fundraisers change, but the DNA ain’t improving. Now the cavalry has arrived. Enter Jeff Brooks and his new book. At a time when too many pay lip service to becoming ‘donor-centric’ but fail to put it into practice, Jeff gives us the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of creating copy that puts the donor first and foremost.

Reviewed for SOFII by Roger Craver.

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Could this be the sea change that fundraising really needs?

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by Penelope Burk

Game-changing books don’t come along often, so this could be the most important book about fundraising that you’ll buy in what, as Penelope Burk comprehensively illustrates, is likely to be your all-too-short and under-fulfilled career.

Reviewed for SOFII by Ken Burnett.

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How you can become your organisation’s competitive edge

by Bernard Ross & Clare Segal

When I heard about the idea of using psychology to raise more money I couldn’t imagine how that would fit into my previous learning about the pyramids, loops and ladders that are so familiar to many of us fundraisers. The fact is – it doesn’t….

Reviewed for SOFII by Kimberley MacKenzie.

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Setting out and summarising the every-day business of excellence

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by ​Henry A. (Hank) Rosso

If you have not read Rosso and his associates’ work, I thoroughly recommend this compendium of 500-plus pages. In it we find the analytical models of the ‘donor pyramid’, the ‘campaign planning cycle’, the ‘concentric circles... and a coherent expression of a philosophy.

Reviewed for SOFII by Roewen Wishart.

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Secrets of a great funding proposal

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by Cheryl A Clarke

The foreword to this short and readable book summarises its value well, ‘For reluctant writers who need warm-up exercises and structured lessons…and for seasoned grant writers who get caught up in the jargon of our fields’…

Reviewed for SOFII by Roewen Wishart.

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Major contributors to this section

Lisa Sargent

As head of Sargent Communications, Lisa Sargent helps nonprofits raise more money and keep more donors through better donor communications. A creative strategist and copywriter, Lisa works exclusively with nonprofits on direct mail, email fundraising and donor care communications – acquisition appeals, annual reports, proposals, welcome packages, e-appeals, newsletters, thank-you letters and more.

Lisa’s articles have been featured in Mal Warwick’s newsletter, FundRaising Success Magazine and The Agitator. Lisa also publishes The Loyalty Letter, a free e-newsletter for nonprofit and charitable organisations read by subscribers around the world.

Lisa has regularly contributed to SOFII, including the wonderful thank you letter clinic, which you can read here.

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Marie Burnett

Marie Burnett is director of The White Lion Press and a trustee of SOFII.

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Charlie Hulme

Charlie Hulme is managing director of DonorVoice. He helps charities uncover what, of all the things they do, improves the strength of relationships  and what is harmful. Partners see a massive improvement in performance, value and retention.

Voted top speaker at the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention in 2013, he writes frequently for SOFII, 101fundraising, the Institute of Fundraising and many others.

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