The Joy of Fundraising

Terry Axelrod is a veteran fundraiser and trainer in the nonprofit field. She also is the author of three previous books about fundraising and is the founder and CEO of Benevon, a fundraising coaching program for nonprofits. Her fourth book, The Joy of Fundraising, is a confidently optimistic look at the fundraising process and how it can be transformed from a necessary chore into an enjoyable experience.

The book's subtitle, "How to Stop Suffering and Start Enjoying Asking for Money for Your Favorite Cause," makes clear its intended audience: new or inexperienced fundraisers struggling with the task of how to ask for money. However, because Axelrod is largely concerned with developing donors who are committed to long-term giving, even veteran fundraisers will benefit from her coaching and approach, which is focused on helping any organization, regardless of size, mission, or need, create sustainability in its fundraising.

To that end, she breaks her Benevon model down into three components: thinking, focus, and action. Essential to each, she notes, is the creation of a personal connection between an organization and a donor. Along the way, she introduces some interesting ideas, including creating an "essential story" for the organization, developing a "treasure map" highlighting connections to potential donors, and showcasing a "visionary leader" of the organization — all of which serve to strengthen the connection between an organization and its actual and potential donors. If the jargon becomes a little repetitive at times, the strategies and tips the author offers are both practical and easy to absorb.

Throughout, Axelrod is upbeat and enthusiastic — a significant strength of the book — and the reader is left with the feeling that raising money can indeed be an enjoyable activity. Where the book falls flat is in expanding on the ideas it introduces. By the end, experienced fundraisers might be left with the impression they've been given a pep talk or have read an expanded brochure for the author's training organization. Less experienced fundraisers, on the other hand, will benefit from Axelrod's explanation of her approach and examination of a process, more art than science, that is critical to the success of any nonprofit organization.