Fundraising for Dummies

Fundraising for Dummies
by John Mutz, Katherine Murray

Good book, but watch the legal & tax advice!

In case you’ve been trapped on a desert island for the past several years, IDG books has been publishing “Dummies”-themed books on every subject under the sun and moon, from Windows 2000 to sex. Fundraising for Dummies is a typically informative, easy-to-read, and useful guide to fundraising for nonprofit organizations.

With 28 chapters in five parts and appendices of checklists and how-tos, the book has loads of information for novice and intermediate fundraisers alike. In fact, it’s also a pretty good reference for board members and volunteers involved in fundraising activities.

There is a chapter devoted to predictions on the future of philanthropy in the U.S., with one-paragraph explanations of brief statements, such as “E-giving Will Grow.” Most of these predictions are obvious to nonprofit-sector experts (and especially those of us who participate on CharityChannel!). However, I must admit to being intrigued by the idea that “Nonprofits Will Rule!”, meaning that, as more for-profits become regional and national in scope, local nonprofits will assume increasing local community leadership influence.

As good as this volume is in its general approaches and many helpful tips and techniques, do not mistake this book for a thorough treatment of the subject or any of its components. I was alarmed by its breezy assertion that nonprofit board service “…is not as risky as serving on a for-profit board. Nonprofit board members are protected personally from liability in any legal action against their charitable organization…»

Haven’t the authors heard of the IRS and Intermediate Sanctions? And, since nonprofit corporations are state-chartered (like their for-profit brethren), wouldn’t liability vary from state to state, as well as depending on the facts and circumstances of each case? I would imagine that the D&O liability insurers would like to address this before the second printing!

One benefit of this book I found is one which I’m not sure is intentional. Grant writing is given short coverage in the appropriately-numbered Chapter 13 of the book, thereby providing two subtle reminders that grants are but a minor part of fundraising success.

Any reader interested in the subject will learn much from this book, as long as they don’t take its accounting and legal advice too literally.

Table of Contents
Part 1 — Gearing Up to Raise Funds
Part 2 — Getting to Know Your Donor
Part 3 — Using Your Fundraising Tools
Part 4 — On the (Fundraising) Campaign Trail
Part 5 — The Part of Tens