New Books Designed to Increase Fundraising

By Jennifer Johnson Backer

Local fundraising consultants Melvin and Pearl Shaw have written two books designed to help nonprofits increase their fundraising activity.

Local fundraising consultants Mel and Pearl Shaw recently wrote two books designed to help nonprofits increase fundraising activity.

Pearl Shaw says the two books are based on what the Shaws have learned over the years, and are written in an easy-to-understand format with plenty of checklists and tips.

“The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts: Turning Prospects Into Donors” is written for board members and volunteers. The book provides advice on everything from securing a meeting with a potential donor to how to frame asking for a gift. The second book, “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success,” highlights 18 prerequisites that help prepare nonprofits for successful fundraising.

“We feel that the most important thing a volunteer can do is to make the ask,” Melvin Shaw said. “Our experience in working with volunteers is that many can’t make the ask.

That’s what we try to address with the book.”

Many nonprofit organizations are run by people who are new to fundraising and who don’t always have the money and resources to bring in high-level consultants, they said. While some of the fundraising strategies can be very sophisticated, both books make the process easy for the average person to use and understand.

Pearl Shaw says the books showcase many of their carefully honed fundraising strategies and ideas.

“These give them (nonprofits) a way to bring these strategies to life,” she said. “Not everyone is going to work with fundraising counsel.”

The Shaws own Memphis-based Saad and Shaw, a consulting firm that specializes in helping colleges and nonprofits boost their fundraising activity. The company also has worked with large corporations like Anheuser-Busch, The Walt Disney Co. and McDonalds to identify and develop partnerships with nonprofit organizations and institutions.

The Shaws also write a weekly column for The Daily News, FUNdraising Good Times.

The Shaws say they’ve found many nonprofit organizations fail to properly prepare before they begin fundraising. Ninety percent of a nonprofit’s efforts should be spent preparing, and the other 10 percent should be spent actually soliciting gifts, Melvin Shaw says.

“The margin of error is so small in this process,” he said. “Even the way you look or the way you address someone can come back to haunt you. What we try to do with these books is to reduce those types of errors.”

Shaw, who has more than 40 years in fund development and marketing, says it’s very common for nonprofits to cut corners. He says the books help nonprofits “get their house in order.”

He learned that lesson very early in his career.

His first fundraising attempt was for the business club at Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., where he was working on his bachelor’s degree. Years later, the president of the university remembered Shaw’s initial fundraising attempt, and hired him to head the university’s fundraising and development activities.

“He let me know pretty soon that if I didn’t raise money, I was out of there,” he said. “I have been hooked very since.”

In 1991, Lane College honored Shaw with an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in recognition of his unique donor engagement and marketing programs, and their impact on the fields of philanthropy and higher education.

So far, the Shaws say the books are off to a steady start. They’ve had several foundations order the books in bulk for their staff members and volunteers. They also will be holding workshops this summer and fall to introduce nonprofits and colleges to the books.

“People get used to a certain way of generating revenue, but they don’t know how to design a full development program,” Pearl Shaw said. “These books tell them exactly what they need to know.”