My initial fundraising career was only meant to last a year or so. After that I was meant to get a ‘proper’ job in law, but then I read 'Relationship Fundraising' by Ken Burnett and it got me hooked on fundraising as a career.
I remember buying Relationship Fundraising from respected fundraiser Peter Maple via Howard Lake’s Fundraising website in about 2001. At the time i’d been a Community Fundraising Assistant for about six months and as much as i’d enjoyed helping out at various events and activities, it wasn’t really intellectually stimulating and I couldn’t really see a long-term future for me.
Then I read Ken’s book.
I remember devouring it in the course of a day and then going back through it with a fine toothcomb and making notes and jotting down ideas. By the time I’d finished the book for a second time I had about 12 pages of notes. I eagerly went and presented them to my bosses at the time and it says a lot about their attitude and leadership that they didn’t tell me where to go, but encouraged me to introduce a number of my ideas.
From that moment on I was a professional fundraiser.
I re-vamped our thank you letters, took responsibility for the database, looked for ways to recognise and thank donors and worked hard to implement as much of the theory and ideas in the book as possible.
The book made me proud to be a fundraiser and showed me what a fulfilling, stimulating and enjoyable career it could offer me.
I haven’t always got things right, but Relationship Fundraising and Ken’s other books have been a compass pointing me in the correct fundraising direction for the past 10 years.
It still amazes me when I meet fundraisers who’ve never read or even heard of Relationship Fundraising. Personally I don’t know how you can do your job properly as a fundraiser without being aware of the principles it teaches.
I’ve recommended the book to hundreds of people and shared my copy with numerous colleagues over the years and it still remains my favourite fundraising book out of the hundreds I have read.
This post is my contribution to the May Non-Profit Blog Carnival. This month it posed the question: What Book Has Changed Your (Professional) Life?