Hi, everyone. I hope you’re having a great summer so far.
While fundraising rarely leaves much downtime anymore, summer is still a great time to catch up on reading, both professional and personal. I just finished up two books. The first is The Go Giver, which I recently re-read after it was initially loaned to me by AFP member Derek Fraser. It’s a short(er) “business” book about The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success, which are good principles to aspire to in all aspects of life. It espouses selflessness and connectivity. It’s definitely well worth your time. Thanks for the recommendation, Derek!
The second was Ride of Your Life, which is the memoir of Lyn St. James, the second woman to race in the Indy series (after Janet Guthrie and before Danica Patrick). I love racing, and not only is the book an inspiring read about the challenges she faced, but it also gets into the aspects of fundraising that she had to learn in order to obtain sponsorships and funding to run a team. St. James founded the Women in the Winner's Circle Foundation in 1994, a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to professional development for talented, up-and-coming young women race car drivers.
If you’re looking for other things to read this summer, don’t forget that key groups have released a lot of great research about fundraising, giving, and volunteering. A few weeks ago, AFP released its latest Compensation and Benefits Report (U.S. and Canada data), and the Giving USA Foundation announcing the release of Giving USA 2017. During our International Fundraising Conference in May, both the Nonprofit Research Collaborative and the Fundraising Effectiveness Project published important new research about giving.
You might check out some fascinating studies about how generous donors are compared to how generous they think they are, giving trends by Millennial donors, and how charities are ignoring mid-level donors in their communications. You can also catch up on some interesting reads from Blackbaud and its latest npEXPERTS release on building a culture of philanthropy; and KCI’s latest Philanthropic Trends Quarterly on how much Canadians are giving.
Being a professional and a successful fundraiser means keeping up—and understanding—the latest research. We’re all busy, but it’s worthwhile to make the time to understand the dimensions of our profession and the sector we work in—why our donors give and respond to different types of messages and solicitations and where we should focus our efforts to get the best return on investment.
The research studies I mentioned above, and countless others, can provide insights into issues that can spell the difference between fundraising success and failure. Sometimes they might give us new ideas and innovations to consider—other times they may just reinforce what we already know and do.
Regardless, we aren’t fully serving our cause and the people who depend on us if we aren’t taking the time to keep up with new research, current trends, and other data that captures our ever-evolving profession.
What are you reading this summer, both personally and professionally, and what would you recommend to your AFP colleagues?