InterVarsity Press, 176 pages | Published January 24, 2023
When I started Turning Donors into Partners, I was skeptical. As a fundraiser, I’ve read numerous books with a similar claim to help organizations raise more money. Brad Layland’s book delivers. It contains solid, practical and practice-able information and tools that anyone can use to improve their fundraising. He emphasizes the importance of focusing on individuals and deepening relationships instead of primarily on the money we raise from them. His approach is centered on the people who want to make gifts as humans and not as piggy banks, or as Layland says, “as ATMs.” His broad experience as a fundraiser and his deep care for donors and the organizations he serves shines through his narrative and the engaging stories with which he illustrates.
In common sense language, Layland explains the fundamentals; his process for planning and executing a relational fundraising plan is an easy read and will help organizations streamline fundraising strategies by focusing resources on the relationships that will help them most over time. Though Layland connects Biblical principles about generosity and human relationships to fundraising and even includes prayer as a strategy, his book is a practical guide versus a theological deep dive into God’s call to all of us to share our resources generously. His suggested practices and framework easily serve faith-based and secular organizations alike.
Layland dispels common fundraising myths, like the never-ending pursuit of new donors taking precedence over caring for and engaging existing donors, where the most philanthropic giving comes from, and focusing exclusively on events. He offers step-by-step instructions to develop a strong case statement, convene the leadership team and map out a fundraising plan and activities for an entire year.
All of this is accompanied by a “moves management” framework and tracking tool for fundraisers to map out next steps and keep them on track and on the same page, including forms and templates.
Many pastors with whom I have worked over the years have confessed to me that seminary did not teach them to raise money. They only seem to lament this fact when they understand they will need to do so. With its depth and clarity, Turning Donors into Partners can help to fill that identified gap in theological education. Layland’s emphasis on humility, listening, and centering and matching the donors’ interests with the needs of the organization plays to the strengths of many in ministry and contributes to de-mystifying the fund-raising function. The book could also be valuable for executive directors and volunteer leaders of any faith-based non-profit and help take the fear out of planning for and boldly asking for support from people with whom you share a vision. While I wish the book were shorter, it is worth the investment of time!
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