Leading the Fundraising Charge:
The Role of the Nonprofit Executive

Leading the Fundraising ChargeJohn Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2013
IBSN 978-0-470-62198-1
Buy on Amazon (Hardcover – January 29, 2013)
Download with iBooks

The first book of its kind to ink the role of organizational leaders with the role of fundraising leader.  It explores the multifaceted elements and approaches that will cause donors to resonate with your organization.

You’ll learn why people give, what share of the might you might be able to capture, and how much you need to invest in a fundraising program.  Filled with essential guidance to deal with the challenges and issues that executives confront when leading a nonprofit organization dependent on philanthropic support.  Leading the Fundraising Challenge equips nonprofit executive directors, development directors and nonprofit boards with best practice concepts, as well as an in-depth look at:

  • Leadership Concepts: Discover what people expect of you in the CEO position
  • Philanthropy Concept: Explore why a philanthropic culture makes such a difference
  • Development Concepts: Examine fundraising practices and who you should hire
  • Relationships Concepts: Learn best practices for attracting high potential donors
  • Solicitation Concepts: Evaluate the strength of your case, campaigns, and communications.


As I was transitioning from a 20 year career in church mission and programming into a new one of fundraising, my first teacher was Karla Williams.  So many of the principles that were in Fundraising 101 are evident in Leading the Fundraising Charge.  Years after that course there is so much more in this book which reflects Karla’s life commitment to the importance of learning from every situation in the field of development.  If I had one book that I wanted to give to CEO’s, Board Chairs, and Development Committee’s this would be it.  Actually, there is so much in each chapter, I would select portions so they could be fully savored and digested.  This is one book of remarkable wisdom and knowledge. 

– Steven P. Miller / 5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Wisdom. July 6, 2013

I don’t know how Karla Williams managed to distill decades of wisdom into fewer than 250 pages in her book (well, I really do know: she’s at the top of our profession as leader, teacher and holder of the ACFRE credential).  Karla takes four key words and plays off of them: Essence, Enigma, Energy, and Effect.  But the one word that is key is Energy, which she applies to fundraising leadership and practice.  Executive leaders need to understand that there are positive attitudes and negative attitudes that come into play.  I have seen this in my own work where a top executive admin ungraciously spurned fundraisers trying to see the CEO.


Don’t be fooled by chapters titled Philanthropy Concepts, Development Concepts, Relationship Concepts, and Solicitation Concepts.  After a brief introduction to the topic, Karla delves deeply into the subject, as befits the knowledge level required of a CEO.  This is mountain moxie brought down to the city where every nonprofit executive can imbibe of its goodness.  Drink up!

– D. C. Dreger “D.C. Dreger, ACFRE” (Atlanta, GA) / 5.0 out of 5 stars The brew that makes the difference. June 7, 2013

Donor Focused Strategies for Annual Giving

Donor Fucused Strategies for Annual GivingJones and Bartlett’s Fund Raising Series for the 21st Century
Published first by Aspen in 1998, then in 2004 by Jones and Bartlett
IBSN 0-7637-2525-6
Buy on Amazon (Paperback – June 24, 2003)

This book demonstrates that annual giving is the core of an integrated development program, and that is success depends on the extent to which fundraisers treat their donors as individuals with distinct needs and interests, rather than mass marketing their organizational cause.  It provides a review of the time-honored fundraising principles, with all their variations.  It recommends the use of marketing theory as the most natural donor-focused approach to build a sustainable, integrated development program.  Further, the book offers a summary of the current research on internal donors motivations and external motivating elicitors.  It uncovers working case examples where new approaches are being successfully than any other aspect of fundraising.

Donor Focused Strategies for Annual Giving promotes the application of an annual integrated development process that is designed to be more donor-sensitive, complex and comprehensive, virtually seamless, and an effective strategy for sustainable philanthropy.  These new approaches are design to accomplish the following:

  • Better understand donors, their motivations, and their interests through research
  • Segment donors into similar, discrete constituencies
  • Select and communicate specific needed to different donor segments by way of an exchange
  • Select different fund raising vehicles based on the donors’ characteristics
  • Provide a form of case-management for each donor, allowing him or her to move more naturally into a relationship of giving and receiving
  • Provide a higher level of donor communications, recognition, and stewardship.


Karla Williams has introduced an extremely practical and well written book for those of us who seek to raise the bar in the arena of Annual Funds and Donor Development.  I have many, many books in my library that focus on fundraising strategies, and this is the primary one that I will be using to train my staff and volunteers.  Why?  Ms. Williams not only presents a world-view that is compatible with our organization, but then presents very practical, step by step strategies to implement this vision of donor development.  She begins with a fairly in depth and clear presentation of the history of fundraising (which helps to put things into perspective) and then moves on to what she believes is the most effective and responsible paradigm for funding nonprofits: one that honors and respects the donor constituency in addition to raising the needed funds for our various causes.  The book features numerous case illustrations, easy to interpret graphs, and an integrated annual development strategy that can be fine tuned for any organization.  Bottom line: Yes it may seem expensive, but it is simply one of *the* best resources for annual funds on the market today.

– Warren “(C)” (FL, USA) / 5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best resources. March 14, 2002

I highly recommend this book.  The author has a very accessible, clear writing style.  She lays out the pros and cons of various options very well.  It has really helped me plan and improve my annual campaign.

– “ideafarmer” (Ithaca, NY USA) / 5.0 out of 5 stars Donor Focused Strategies for Annual Giving. June 26, 2000

If you have taken a class from Karla, you would know that you need this book – very practical, concise, and full of good things for fundraisers to do.  Although she is giving it an “annual giving” perspective, it really will be helpful for any kind of fundraising.  Buy it!  You will be glad you did.

– Busy “DJT” (Simi Valley, CA USA / 5.0 out of 5 stars You need this one! September 12, 2009

MAY 23, 2011    

Community key to fundraising
By Todd Cohen

Giving is all about community. Americans give money, volunteer and serve on boards mainly because they want to help make their communities better places to live and work.

But fundraising, the flip side of giving, is not always about community: When they ask prospective donors for money, far too many nonprofit staff and volunteer leaders focus on fundraising techniques and the needs of the nonprofit and, sometimes, of the donor, rather than on the needs of the community.

That needs to change if nonprofits expect to do a better job raising money so their organizations can better serve people and places in need.

That is the message of Karla Williams, a national fundraising consultant based in Charlotte, N.C., where she is a key adviser to United Way of Central Carolinas in its effort to transform its organizational culture in the wake of a scandal over its ousted CEO’s compensation.

She also is director of the Leadership Gift School at the Institute for Philanthropic Leadership, a local effort in Charlotte to strengthen the work of local nonprofit leaders and fundraisers.

Williams says nonprofits that want to be more effective fundraisers first must build a culture of philanthropy at their organizations.

That is hard work: It requires, first, that a nonprofit’s staff and board understand the history and role of philanthropy, as well as fundraising tools and strategies, and how and when to use them.

It also requires truly getting to know donors and helping them understand the community and the role their gift can play in helping the nonprofit address urgent community problems.

It is “imperative,” Williams says, that nonprofits “understand how much work it takes to be deliberate in our creating a sense of philanthropy” that will help build a sense of community.

She cites a 2000 study of 40 U.S. communities that found Americans do a great job volunteering and giving to charity, mainly through religious congregations, but take few chances, stick to their own kind and are divided by race and class.

In short, our communities are low on “social capital,” or the social connections or civic glue critical to hold communities together and help them thrive.

Led by Robert Putnam of Harvard University in partnership with local community foundations and private foundations, the study prompted many funders to launch efforts to strengthen social capital in their communities.

Some of those efforts have created safer, more vibrant neighborhoods; helped residents and businesses get more engaged in civic life and affairs; and built closer connections among people from different backgrounds and walks of life who previously did not come into contact with or even know one another.

Others have taken on some of the most urgent and complicated needs in their communities, such as improving dismal high-school graduation rates or better serving vulnerable people like the homeless.

By creating a culture of philanthropy that connects their organizations and the people who support them with the larger community, nonprofits can help strengthen the community’s social capital.

Greater social capital, in turn, can make fundraising more effective and generate more philanthropy.

So fundraising and giving both become more strategic and meaningful and have a greater impact because people who are connected to one another and to their community have a more intimate understanding of common problems and want to be involved in helping to fix them.

Instead of treating fundraising as a “mechanical” process, and treating donors as if they were automated teller machines, Williams says, nonprofits can raise a lot more money and use it more strategically and effectively by spending the time to get to know donors, and helping them see the connection between their values, the causes they care about, the impact they want to have, and the difference they can make in healing and repairing their communities.

Giving is indeed about community.

By making sure their organizations and their donors understand the meaning, value, role and methods of philanthropy, and the needs of their communities, Williams says, giving and its impact will grow.

“The notion of connectivity,” Williams says, “is a critical measure of whether we’re doing a good job.”