ForeWord Reviews

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The Volunteers' Guide to Fundraising

Foreword Review — July / Aug 2011

Perennially understaffed nonprofit organizations depend on volunteers as their backbone for getting things accomplished and for raising money. Fundraising is especially crucial in a challenging economic environment, and this makes The Volunteers’ Guide to Fundraising particularly timely.

Ilona Bray’s objective is to make this book the “fundraising companion” for volunteers, and she succeeds admirably. This comprehensive volume leaves virtually no fundraising stone unturned. It begins with such basics as defining the legalities of nonprofit organizations and fundraising activities, how to handle and safeguard money, recruiting and motivating volunteers, and crafting a fundraising strategy.

The remainder of the book addresses how to run and manage every specific kind of fundraising activity imaginable, including business sponsorships, selling goods and services, soliciting donations from consumers, events, auctions, fairs and festivals, concerts, lectures, home and garden tours, walkathons, contests, games, and sporting events.

Each chapter features short, easy-to-read subsections and numerous callouts, such as “Tip,” “Caution,” and “Resource.” Stories about the experiences of volunteers round out the text. Also included, when appropriate, are well-designed charts and samples of letters, forms, and other documents.

In effect, every chapter is a stand-alone guide to a particular aspect of fundraising. The chapter on Fairs and Festivals, for example, discusses the advisability of holding such an event, the amount of planning and work required, how to pick the basic theme, key preparatory steps, the unfolding of the event itself, and following up afterward.

A novel aspect of The Volunteers’ Guide to Fundraising is the fact that every chapter has been written by a fundraising professional, and the reader has the opportunity to “Meet Your Adviser” at the start of each. There is a photo and thumbnail biography of each individual, along with their comments about the following: her job description, earliest memory of taking part in a charitable activity, what she likes best about her work, and, her top tip for people new to nonprofit fundraising. This technique provides an unusual level of personalization and, by involving other fundraising professionals, extends the content’s credibility.

This book also includes a CD with a bonus chapter, “Applying for Grants from Foundations, Corporations, or Government,” as well as numerous forms that volunteers can adapt for their own uses, including a donor letter of thanks, a phonathon call sheet, a silent auction bid sheet, and a press release.

The Volunteers’ Guide to Fundraising is an all-in-one resource that should be of considerable value to both directors of volunteer programs at nonprofit organizations and the volunteers who serve them.

Barry Silverstein