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Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits: Real World Strategies That Work - a Review

Get Your Fundraising House in Order

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Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits: Real World Strategies That Work - a Review
Nolo Press is one of my favorite publishers of basic books that I keep in a handy spot on my desk.

Nolo's Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits, by Llona Bray, is another of their basic must-have's. (Nolo Press, 2005, US $24.99, ISBN: 1-4133-0094-4)

This smallish, but packed, book, with its clear language and well-organized format, is meant for the new nonprofit organization. It efficiently covers everything a neophyte fundraiser or new nonprofit manager needs to get started on building a strong development program.

Chapters include "Fundraising Tools," and "Developing Your Plan," to grant getting, designing donor-friendly websites, raising money through business activities, and bequests and planned gifts.

Throughout the book are handy checklists and highlighted tips. Everything is really here from how to thank your donors to how to do a direct mailing.

For a new organization, this book will be all you'll need for a while. Once you've followed all of its advice, you will be well on your way to having a well-oiled fundraising machine in place.

Strongest Areas

Two areas that are most difficult for beginners are bequests and planned gifts, and creating business activities that can help sustain your mission.

These two subjects are well covered in this book. You will learn how to handle simple inheritance gifts and also about the basic components of a planned giving program, such as a charitable gift annuity, charitable remainder unitrust, etc. These are daunting topics but author Bray, who is an attorney, explains them in simple and reassuring terms.

One of the tips we liked in this area provided the following wisdom:

"Planned Giving may mean nothing to your donors. Although it's a common term in fundraising circles, your donors may not know what planned giving is. Therefore, your communications materials should avoid headings like, 'Have you considered a planned gift?' Better to stick to plain English, with headings like, 'You can leave a living legacy,' or 'Please consider including [name of organization] in your will or living trust.'"

The book's section on business activities breaks the possibilities down into "Activities That Will Never Raise IRS Eyebrows," "Activities That Will Be Taxed," and "Activities That Risk a Nonprofit's 501(c)(3) Status." This approach clarifies the IRS confuscation considerably and will make it easy for your organization to choose the appropriate business activities.

Once again, one of the book's tips is worth the cost of the book:

"Never use nonprofit income for noncharitable purposes. Though there's a lot of gray area in the tax rules regarding how money comes into your nonprofit, there's very little ambiguity about how it's supposed to be spent. Profits generated by a nonprofit business may not, repeat not, be used for the private benefit of any person or organization outside the charitable organization."

If you've gotten through the initial set up of your nonprofit unscathed, your next stop should be this book. Funding of your mission is top priority. Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits: Real-World Strategies That Work will help get you there.

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