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June 25, 2022
Detailed, Step-by-Step Fundraising Guidance for Novices and Pros
Book - Fundraising for the Genius
Nonprofit fundraising, at its essence, is about developing relationships and inspiring philanthropy, according to the recently published Fundraising for the Genius, which provides detailed guidance to help novice and experienced fundraisers alike achieve those twin goals.

The inaugural book in the newly launched “Genius” series, Fundraising for the Genius, authored by Linda Lysakowski, who has managed dozens of capital and other nonprofit fundraising campaigns, comes close to being a Bible for the field.

Lysakowski starts with the fundamentals, explaining what fundraising is—how it differs from development and intersects with philanthropy—and proceeds to explore the roles that different people within nonprofits play in fundraising, how to find money, what needs to be done before fundraising can occur, as well as different methods used in fundraising.

What makes the book especially valuable is its use of check lists, tips, and summaries of key points.

For example, to help nonprofits decide when and how to engage a consultant, Lysakowski suggests which criteria are important to use, poses key questions to ask when interviewing candidates, and advises how to welcome the consultant to the organization once he or she has been hired ”“ all critical pointers that will aid those who have never hired a fundraising consultant. Even for those who have, it’s always useful to check current best practices.

Similarly, with regard to volunteers, she provides practical advice for engaging and managing volunteers for the full spectrum of fundraising activity ”“ from special events, grant writing, and direct mail appeals to corporate solicitations, major gifts, and planned giving. A nine-point check list for recruiting volunteers and a case history on the issue provide the level of detailed insight and instruction that normally comes from long years of experience.

Effective fundraising grows from cultivating relationships with previous, current, and prospective donors. Here again, Lysakowski offers sage advice: “You should be spending 90-95 percent of your time identifying, cultivating, and soliciting those major donors who will provide 90-95 percent of your donations. In other words, face-to-face solicitations are the best way to land major gifts.”

When deciding whether to buy books that purport to offer exhaustive guidance for a particular field it’s a good idea to review the appendices, for that often is where some of the richest material will be found, and such is the case with Fundraising for the Genius.

The book’s appendices are probably worth its price alone. A comprehensive glossary will bring anyone up to speed quickly so that they understand the language of fundraising. Also included in this mother lode of information are a way to assess your organization’s philanthropic profile, job descriptions for board members, development directors, and campaign chairs, worksheets for evaluating board members and potential donors, volunteer recruitment packets, and fundraising campaign timelines.

The subtitle of Fundraising for the Genius boasts that it is “the only book you’ll ever need to raise more money and support for your nonprofit organization.” It’s quite a claim ”“ and most likely true.

Fundraising for the Genius is available from For the Genius Press.

Reviewed by Peter Lowy

October 2012
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