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June 25, 2022
Nonprofits Will Always Need to Raise Funds, So Best to Start Now
Book - Field Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofits
What often stops nonprofits from raising the funds they need is themselves, asserts The Field Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofits, which then helps them overcome self-limiting beliefs, offering invaluable guidance, as its sub-title notes, by fusing creativity and best practices.

Author Sarah Lange, founder and principal of New Era for Nonprofits, who has helped raise more than $70 million for 200 nonprofits, puts it bluntly: "Most of us don’t even know we have limiting beliefs, let alone how powerful they are in driving our decision making and behaviors."

She wrote the book to help nonprofits overcome those barriers by advising readers how to address the factors that together enable successful fundraising, including creating a dynamic board, investing in strategic planning, and fully communicating the great work nonprofits do.

Lange celebrates the role of nonprofits in the United States as part and parcel of the fabric of life—the arts, higher education, hospitals, social services—that makes a qualitative difference for many Americans.

Recognizing that for the foreseeable future the level of government spending for social programs is likely to continue to drop, it will, increasingly, be left to nonprofits to fill the gap ”“ "to raise the kind of money we need to move the needle on the social problems that have been with us for decades."

First things first. Nonprofits need to shift their attitude toward fundraising: Fundraising is not all about raising money, but, according to Lange, "about building and deepening relationships with people who care about your cause."

They also must rid themselves of beliefs, such as:
  • Our organization cannot be profitable.
  • We must rely solely on subsidies.
  • We must focus on expenses, not results.
  • We cannot raise enough capital to meet our needs.
  • We must do more for less.
"Shifting from a place of scarcity to one of abundance will have a potent effect on your ability to attract the donors, funders, and money your organization needs to fulfill its mission," writes Lange.

By offering detailed tactics to help organizations adopt a winning attitude—a key value of the book—The Field Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofits sets the stage for what follows. That includes delving into the how's and whys of planning, how to enlist your board in fundraising, how to use strategic plans to engage donors, how to organize and execute appeals and special events, and how to tell a good story.

The insights that Lange offers readers, through detailed, step-by-step guidance supported by clear reasoning from beginning to end, puts the book on par with the value nonprofit professionals would glean from a months-long, graduate-level course in fundraising.

While recognizing that "it’s important to strengthen every aspect of your fundraising program," Lange cautions that trying to address everything at the same time won't work. She advises implementing one strategy at a time, preferably starting with the easy ones most likely to succeed, which will set the stage for further action.

Getting all this right is essential, for, as Lange notes, trillions of dollars in wealth will change hands over the next 50 years, from Baby Boomers to their children and grandchildren. With so much at stake, now's the time to get started.

The Field Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofits: Fusing Creativity and New Best Practices
is available from Amazon.

Reviewed by Peter Lowy

May 2019
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