Book Review: “Achieving Excellence in Fundraising”


It is imperative that nonprofit professionals have a range of skills. Professionals must have continuous training over the years. You must be courteous in your thoughts and learn new techniques and strategies. Early in my career in development, I had the good fortune to understand the fundraising concepts personally taught by Henry Rosso. He was an early leader in the evolution of fundraising theory and practice.

As I began to build my library on fundraising, I knew I had to get the book “Henry Rosso’s Achieving Excellence in Fund Raising”. I am honored to have a book personally signed by Rosso. This book serves as a comprehensive guide to principles, strategies, and methods. Rosso laid the groundwork for this book with his personal fundraising philosophy and understanding of the fundraising cycle.

These concepts are really relevant today. It offers an approach to fundraising, prepares an organization for fundraising, examines methods through a bottom-up approach to giving, explains how to manage the fundraising process, introduces the concept of research, and shares ways in which professionals could succeed in fundraising. It has been my favorite book throughout my career.

Can you imagine my joy and excitement when it was announced that Wiley Publishing had published the fifth edition of “Achieving Excellence in Fundraising”? I received an email from Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Fundraising Schoollocated in Indianapolis, that the book was now available.

The new edition, with over 30 authors and 20 contributors to this piece, makes transformational advances over previous editions by utilizing best practices while adapting to a changing environment. Anyone responsible for fundraising, such as professionals, boards, donors, volunteers, and those interested in nonprofit management, should have this resource in their personal library.

The fifth edition provides professionals with philanthropic concepts for fundraising, an understanding of the changing dynamics of fundraising, improved fundamentals of fundraising, elements of fundraising mechanics and the basic of donors, the diversity of individual donors, short and long term strategies for major donors, and a very comprehensive view of the modern fundraising process in over 526 pages.

Having lived in the Indianapolis fundraising world and having been a student in the field of fundraising for 40 years, I have personally participated in and witnessed the evolution of Indiana University since the establishment of the Indiana University Center for Philanthropy in 1987.

This development eventually led to Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the world’s first school dedicated to philanthropy education and research, established in 2012. Students can receive a bachelor’s, a master’s and a doctorate in philanthropy. The Fundraising School, part of the Lilly School of Philanthropy, has educated more than 50,000 people in 40 countries around the world in its 50 years of existence.

The amazing education, research and study on the concept of fundraising goes back to Rosso and its first edition of “Achieving Excellence in Fundraising”. This book will continue to be the centerpiece of nonprofit management books in my personal library.

If you only had one book in your nonprofit library, I suggest you pick up the fifth edition of “Achieving Excellence in Fundraising.” As you begin to read this book, you will develop your own personal fundraising philosophy. When you finish the book, you will become a better resource development professional. This book is also comprehensive and deep.


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