Book Review: Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits

The book I’ve been reading this week could just as easily find its place in a classroom as my bedside table. It’s called Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits and is published by legal information company Nolo.

This book is set up just like any textbook; each chapter has a case study or example, breakout boxes with tips and warnings, and includes worksheets for specific topics. I really like this setup because you can flip to the chapter on whatever you happen to be working on (major gifts campaigns, social media, etc) and review the tips and strategies that chapter outlines.

Another really useful part of this book are the worksheets. They are included as an appendix as tear-out sheets and in each chapter so you can get a feel for the planning as you’re thinking about that chapter’s theme. I made copies of a few since I was borrowing this book from my library such as the “Grant priorities summary chart” and the “Grant prospects research overview” sheet.

Since the book is written by a lawyer, the book includes some handy information about the financial laws which govern nonprofits. If you are starting your own nonprofit or just don’t know much about nonprofit tax laws especially, this can be really information to think about when learning about fundraising.

Taken as a whole though, I wouldn’t recommend sitting down and trying to read the entire book. It’s written like a textbook and should be read like a textbook- in focused chunks based on the subject you are trying to learn about.  Effective Fundraising is a great reference for any nonprofit bookshelf.

The Nolo website has both E-book and paperback versions available for purchase.


4/4 Epic Mountains


Book Review- Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits

A new themed blog entry I’m going to start doing are book reviews. Mostly they will be nonprofit and marketing books, but if there’s a must-read that I pick up for pleasure and not just ongoing reading, I’ll be sure to post about it here!

If you are starting up a nonprofit and aren’t sure where to start with fundraising and community building, then Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits is a great place to start. The book is geared toward nonprofit professionals who run small organizations and aren’t quite sure where to start with marketing.

The idea of ‘guerrilla marketing’ is that with limited funds, nonprofit marketers have to think outside the box and get dirty (so to speak) with their marketing techniques. Much like guerrilla fighters they have to plan ahead, think strategically, and rely on carefully crafted attacks rather than an all-out siege.

Guerrilla marketing, according to the authors, is people-focused. These nonprofit professionals must rely on a strong network of relationships to get their message out to the world and follow-up with these connections to ensure change occurs.

To a guerrilla marketer, communication must be more about the audience than the organization itself. By using what the authors call “You Marketing,” nonprofits can put their audiences in the story of what these organizations seek to do and see themselves as part of the change.

I loved that the book referenced tried and true communications theory as part of its approach. It’s the scholar in me that wants to be reminded that these ideas have a basis in scholarship and aren’t just rote industry habit.

I also found it useful that the authors break down media into 3 useful categories for planning a marketing campaign:

  1. Mini-media: one-to-one or one-to-few campaigns such as business cards, canvassing, phone calling, print materials, or signage.
  2. Maxi-media: traditional media such as print ads, direct mail, commercials, or billboards.
  3. E-media: online branding and content such as blogs, banners,  or social media.

This breakdown also included many ideas for each media type, so be sure and grab the book if you want to hear more!

Besides helpful ways of thinking about marketing, the guerrilla authors have some step-by-step approaches to fundraising and planning that will help anyone, regardless or expertise or skill level, be a better nonprofit communicator.


3/4 Epic Mountains


Email Marketing

Our methods of communication have shifted drastically in the past 5 years. These days, most of us are emailing rather than picking up the phone and calling work contacts, friends and family. And thanks to smart phones, we are emailing or checking email dozens of times a day while on the go.

For organizations, this means email is the most consistent way to update supporters. Sending out updates on important legislation, upcoming events, and fundraising opportunities are just a few ways nonprofits are using email marketing. But first, an organization has to decide on a solution for sending email. How can organizations customize mass emails? Will the emails actually get delivered? What kinds of statistics are out there for monitoring email?

Luckily there are lots of tech solutions out there for organizations to quickly and easily send great-looking emails, manage the list of people these emails are sent to, and collect data on the people reading and clicking through to act. One option is a full Consumer Relationship Managers like Salsa, SalesForce, or Campaigner. These systems will allow your organization to manage email and fundraising all in one place, but with all of the features they offer, they can also be pricey.

The other option is a simple email marketing service. These services offer guaranteed email delivery, customized email templates, and list management for  a monthly or yearly price. There are usually more affordable for a small nonprofit  and some even offer a certain number of emails for free if your organization qualified. But there are so many of these services out there, where to start!?

Based on your organization’s needs, you’ll want to prioritize what features are most important. Is your budget dictating what options are available? A service that offers discounts for nonprofits might be your best bet. Need lots of tech support? 24/7 customer service might be crucial to your decision.

I’ve found a couple helpful websites for comparing email marking services. The first is on and they have scored some of the most popular services based on a number of features:


The second is from, and instead of a ranking, they have drawn up this handy chart so you can see if a service offers the features you are looking for:


Once you’ve made the big decision and picked your email marketing service, it’s time to get crackin’! This guide by the National Network for Arab American Communities provides a lot of helpful information on effective email marketing. Over at Salsa, their blog has specific information about the Salsa CRM, but also information on best practices in email marketing. The Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog is an amazing resource for all things tech in the nonprofit world. Finally, Nonprofit Quarterly is the be-all, end-all for nonprofit news and resources.

What email marketing services are you using? Are there other great resources for nonprofit email marketing I didn’t list?

Happy emailing!