Great books for fundraisers … and none of them about fundraising

Writers read. Kind of the way everyone else eats. It’s what keeps the writing muscles going.

If you’re a fundraising writer, you might enjoy this great list from Roy Williams’ The Monday Morning Memo: Books to Make You a Better Writer. You see, these aren’t books that teach you about your professional craft; they’re about completely unrelated other things. You read them to take in what great writing is: sentence construction, word selection, description, rhythm, pacing. All the things that make writing readable, wonderful, and worth spending time with.

Here’s Roy’s list:

  • Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
  • The Poetry of Robert Frost
  • One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Hawaii by James Michener
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

I can vouch for all those books. They really can help you write better fundraising, even though they have nothing to do with fundraising.

And since no writer can read a book list without countering with one of his own, here’s my list of great books fundraisers should read, even though they aren’t about fundraising:

Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan

Some see this little novel as a goofy relic of 60s counterculture America. I don’t. I think it’s one of the most tightly and cleanly written books ever written. It seems utterly simple, colloquial, effortless. As easy as wine-lubricated talk. But try to imitate it, and you’ll quickly see how carefully written it is. If we could write fundraising like this, we’d be raising a lot more money!

Black Lamb Gray Falcon by Rebecca West

This might be some of the best travel writing ever. It’s about the former Yugoslavia between the World Wars. If you want to see a master writer bring scenes and situation to life, this is a powerful example. Since fundraising writing is nonfiction (I hope!), this is a good place to pump up your writing muscles. And you’ll learn a thing or two.

Paradise Lost by John Milton

Don’t write your fundraising like this! But let the majestic rhythm (the whole thing is written in verse) sink into your bones. Reading Milton is the writer’s equivalent of eating your vegetables.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky’s psychological insight is what makes this book stand out. The range of characters and their motivations make this a sort of comprehensive tour of the human spirit. Fundraising writing is about people; if you can capture people’s behavior and motivations like this, you’re a master!

Thoughts?

Would you like to add some great books that aren’t about fundraising to this list? I’d love to see your list and to read your recommendations.


Comments

2 responses to “Great books for fundraisers … and none of them about fundraising”

  1. Penelope Avatar

    9/10 male authors. Whew.

  2. Penelope Avatar

    9/10 male authors. Whew.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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