Starting with books

Life would have been so much easier if I’d read more fundraising and marketing books earlier in my fundraising career. But I’m making up for it now. If you enjoy them too, drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you. There are so many out there, but of the fundraising (and nonfundraising) books that I wish I’d read earlier, here is a small but definitive collection:

Every single “Tiny Essentials” book (fundraising, regular giving, major gifts, volunteer boards – buy the whole set!). You can read them on the bus, they’re so short. You can find them all at White Lion Press.

Fundraising When Money Is Tight, by Mal Warwick. Mal wrote this at the speed of light for the 2008/9 recession, but what he’s really written is a classic fundraising text. Do the right things, and do them well. He’s also written brilliant books about direct marketing and you should read them all!

The Influential Fundraiser, by Bernard Ross and Clare Segal. Oh, I wish this book had been available when I was new to fundraising. Their unique approach takes psychology and interpersonal communications learnings into the fundraising world. What a revelation!

Made to Stick, by brothers Chip and Dan Heath. Oh, if only every fundraiser read this. We’d be spared of the drivel that masquerades as nonprofit communications. How to develop really brilliant and effective messages. And a fun read, too!

And of course, Ogilvy on Advertising, by the great master himself. It’s a shame that we won’t get to find out what David Ogilvy things of the new media world. The principles in Ogivly on Advertising still apply, though! And again, I wish I’d read this before I ever hired an ad agency. You can read my review here.

Copywriting links and resources:

Don’t make it up as you go. Learn from the greatest of copywriters:

Frank C Dickersen’s doctoral research report: The way we write is all wrong, that identifies the best and worst of nonprofits’ letters to that ask for money.

Jerry Huntsinger: There’s a lot you can learn from Jerry about writing to raise money, as well as bucket loads of practical advice. He’s also produced 86 tutorials, many of which you can access when you subscribe to

David Ogilvy: “Only amateurs write short copy”. Read my review of Ogilvy on Advertising on

George Smith: His two great books Asking Properly and Tiny essentials of writing for fundraising can be found at White Lion Press.

Mal Warwick: I recommend you read his book How to Write Successful Fundraising Letters (and all the rest, really). You can’t go wrong!


There are a handful of ‘must follows’ who will give you great information and access to useful resources:






and me… @scribblybark

Blogs and websites we love:

The Agitator – daily updates that will give you access to great resources

Donor Power Blog – simply the best!

Sean Triner: no-nonsense, holistic, donor-driven, data-driven fundraising

The Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration: An online treasure chest of the best fundraising from around the world