Book Review | Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops: How to Leverage Your Annual Fund in Only Five Hours per Week (In the Trenches)

publication date: Oct 31, 2018
author/source: Reviewed by Katherine Verhagen Rodis

Are you looking for transformational gifts for your organization? Are you stuck on what Amy Eisenstein calls the “hamster wheel of fundraising” by focusing most of your time on grant writing and event planning, but not enough on securing sustainable revenue from your top donors? If you’re a fund development professional and you’re solely or mostly responsible for your shop’s major gift acquisition, you need Amy Eisenstein’s Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops: How to Leverage Your Annual Fund in Only Five Hours per Week (2014).

Eisenstein is teaching you effective project management. And her milestones are donor meetings that result in successful asks. She will walk you through the initial meeting(s), pre- ask meeting preparation, running a productive meeting, and post-meeting evaluation and follow-up.

Eisenstein will not wave a GTD magic wand to solve all of your time management challenges. But she can help you even if all you can contribute to leadership giving is 2 hours per week. Her goal is to get you to implement a sustainable major gifts identification, cultivation, and stewardship plan that you can manage in five hours per week or less, with a running prospect list of 20 top donors. And she shows you how other fundraising revenue streams, like with digital and direct marketing, can support your efforts.

To get those transformational gifts, you will have to transform some aspect(s) of your operations to maximize your potential. Eisenstein gives you the tools to better articulate what your needs are as a major gifts professional and multiple strategies to increase executive director or senior volunteer engagement.

Even big shops can ask themselves, are we really working with an optimized database or practicing donor-centred and multitouch stewardship? Are we engaging and reinvigorating our board members? Or truly breeding a culture of philanthropy among all of our constituents, not just the development team (or sole, brave, development officer)? I challenge you to find a fundraising shop that couldn’t benefit from this book.

You may share my slightly unhealthy attachment to charts and spreadsheets. If you do, then you’ll shout out an overly enthusiastic “woohoo!” when Eisenstein shows you a cultivation plan table, a sample “Board Member Expectation Form,” or a weekly-to-monthly major gifts activity calendar.

But most productivity experts will tell you that planning and, most importantly, measuring activity will lead to success. If you’re skeptical, check out Beth Kanter and Katie Paine’s Measuring the Networked Nonprofit (2012) or Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit (2014). The point is that Eisenstein isn’t just encouraging you to secure big gifts for your organization, but to grow and develop as a major gifts professional.

Eisenstein, Amy. (2014). Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops: How to Leverage Your Annual Fund in Only Five Hours per Week (In the Trenches). Nashville, TN: Charity Channel Press. ISBN: 9781938077562 Buy now

Katherine Verhagen Rodis is the Foundations, Major Gifts and Planned Giving Officer at YWCA Toronto, a recent Humber graduate, and has a passion for business communication/productivity books and dark chocolate.

Editor's note - link for book purchase is provided only as a service; the reviewer and Hilborn didn't receive any money for reviewing this book.

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