By Andrew Robison, President of Petrus Development
Six Books for Any Catholic Fundraiser’s Christmas List
A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.” – Abraham Lincoln
Every year as we get close to Christmas, my family always asks me to give them my Christmas list. Not really being one to spend much time thinking about this, I generally just say “tools.” Of course, as a father of young children, I can be assured of getting at least a few pairs of socks and a tie and that’s alright too. However, I also love to get and give books as Christmas gifts as well. So I thought I would mention a few of my favorite books that are relevant as a Catholic fundraiser.
Asking by Jerold Panus
This book is super quick but jam-packed with great lessons for anyone just getting into development. Presented as a “A 59-Minute Guide to Everything Board Members, Volunteers, and Staff Must Know to Secure the Gift,” it is also a wonderful resource for your ministry staff and volunteers. If you have never read Asking, I would certainly get a copy today!
Imagining Abundance by Kerry Robinson
Kerry Robinson is one of the greats when it comes to development directors in the Catholic world and it all starts with her outlook and approach to philanthropy. Imagining Abundance is a wonderful set of lessons that she came to learn in her time as a development director, an advisor to many Catholic charities and as an active Catholic philanthropist. Her advice to “be worthy of generosity,” “treat donors as subjects instead of objects,” and “imagine abundance” are all timeless lessons that any Catholic fundraiser would be well-advised to follow.
Building Donor Loyalty by Adrian Sargeant
Back in 2008, I completed the Masters of Arts in Philanthropy & Development program through Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota. As part of that program, I wrote my Capstone Paper on The Benefits and Challenges of EFT Programs. In the course of my research, I came across Building Donor Loyalty by Adrian Sargeant. If I quoted his writings once then I must have quoted them 100 times. Dr. Sargeant is a true master of philanthropy and I learned so many lessons that still guide my work as a development officer today. I would highly recommend this book and would also recommend having a new pack of highlighters and scratch paper nearby when you start it.
The God Ask by Steve Shadrach
Today, many Catholic organizations are growing and expanding their ability to offer wonderful ministry in part by asking their ministry staff to build up a team around them who are supporting them spiritually and financially. This model of ministry has so many benefits for the organization, the ministry personnel and the donors but it certainly can be intimidating and scary for the people who have to do the fundraising. The God Ask is a great book because the author does such a good job of putting the focus where it should always be…on God and serving Him. I highly recommend this book for anyone in Catholic fundraising, but especially for anyone just starting out and nervous about how to get going.
The Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen
Jamie Cappetta wrote a great article recently on the 5 Reasons to read “A Spirituality of Fundraising” by Henri Nouwen so I won’t say much about this, except that nobody explains it better than Henri Nouwen why development is important as a ministry. Definitely an excellent book for your collection to read and then re-read many times again.
Good to Great by Jim Collins
So this book is a little outside the norm and not even really about fundraising, but I have read Good to Great at least four times over the last 8-9 years and it never fails that I learn a new lesson each time that helps me be a better development officer and a better leader. Collins’ key lessons of getting the right people on the bus, Level 5 Leadership, the “flywheel” and the “doom loop,” confronting the brutal facts, and how to make proper use of technology accelerators are critical pieces in any organization’s drive to become great. I highly recommend reading this book with an open mind for how you can be the catalyst for taking your work and your ministry from good to great.
This list is certainly not comprehensive of all the great books out there for Catholic development officers. What additional books would you include on your Christmas List? Leave a comment or email me at andrew@petrusdevelopment. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Andrew N. Robison is President of Petrus Development. He has worked for over 12 years in development roles in Catholic campus ministry, higher education and academic medicine. Andrew works with organizations of all sizes to build sustainable development programs that allow them to better serve their constituencies.
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