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The War for Fundraising Talent and How Small Shops Can Win

By Jason Lewis

This book is intended for two audiences: the aspiring fundraising professional and the organisational leaders who hire them.

The central argument is that not-for profits – especially small shops (though I think it applies to big organisations too) have become overly reliant on ‘arms-length’ fundraising tactics (events, competitions, high-volume direct mail etc) to attract high-volume, low-quality donors.

The author (who is fundraiser, trainer and consultant) argues that our ‘addiction’ to new donor acquisition perpetuates our industry’s inability to retain top high-value and major-donor fundraising talent.

Because these rising starts move on quickly in frustration when they find that the hard work of building meaningful relationships with high value donors is just not prioritised. And that the investment centres more on the earliest steps in the fundraising process.

Yet, as research is continuing to shout clearly, this is not sustainable fundraising. In fact, it’s not a sustainable business model for any industry.

The author doesn’t suggest that new donor acquisition is no longer necessary. Quite the contrary. We will always need to acquire new donors.

What he does argue with passion is that most organisations should reduce their acquisition budget, raise their retention budget and invest more time and money into delivering a stewardship program to the donors who ultimately will have the greatest impact on the mission.

Without robust major gift programs (and the talent to deliver them), not-for-profits will never have the capacity to grow and achieve their mission. 

Without doubt this is a book that will get you thinking differently. There may be parts of the book – like us – that you don’t agree with. But the War for Fundraising Talent offers a good starting point for those who are charged with both fundraising and creating an environment for fundraising success.

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