Book Review: The Little Book of Gold, Fundraising for Small and Very Small Nonprofits by Erik Hanberg

“The Little Book of Gold, Fundraising for Small and Very Small Nonprofits” isn’t gold, per se, but it does contain bits of treasure. I would suggest this book for someone who is very, very, new to the nonprofit sector or is considering starting their own organizations.

The book walks through the early challenges small-shop nonprofits face, from board engagement to understanding how to make the first fundraising ask to donor stewardship. New nonprofiteers should have a solid background in budgeting, finance, and accounting, and be realistic about what you can expect from staff, board, and volunteers. Hanberg reiterates the importance of balanced giving through the donor pyramid: large amount of small gifts, a medium amount of medium sized gifts, and then a few large gifts.

He also highlights how to address challenges such as a weak board chair, fear of change (cough cough every nonprofit board that has ever existed), and how to persuade your team to embrace new programs and changing technology. This book also touches upon how to build capacity, work with grantors, and launch a capital campaign. While I think that a capital campaign is a stretch for a new or very small nonprofit, thinking BIG is always encouraged.

While the focus orients around small and new nonprofits, Hanberg has solid advice for folks who have been in the fundraising ring for a while. Starting with work smarter, not harder, which is sage wisdom that many of us don’t listen to. I might be speaking for myself here, but I find that I often equate doing more to being more successful, and often times it becomes a battle between quality and quantity.

One sentence in the book that made my ears perk up was “Events will Kill You.” Can I get an AMEN? Hanberg is right here, although the silent auction dinner gala is an unspoken nonprofit right of passage, events need to make sense to hold value for your nonprofit. We often overlook the costs of staffing and time when we budget events, and as a result, events can be silent killers - sinking your time, budget, and causing shifts in your overall goals. Hanberg suggests breakfast events which take less time and overhead to produce (I've had success with early morning events too; they're just easier). He also encourages multimedia at special events to make organizations stand out.

Overall, if you’re in a small shop this is a great read. If you’re a one person nonprofit, then stop what you’re doing right now and give this a glance.

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Book Review: The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Book Review: The Round House by Louise Erdrich