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Book Review: Careers in Fundraising

Resource Center - Foundation

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Careers in Fundraising by Lilya Wagner, Ed.D, CFRE
John Wiley & Sons, 2002.
ISBN 0-471-40359-8; paperback; 313 pages.

This long-overdue book is a detailed guide on how to prepare for, enter and thrive in the field of fundraising. Dr. Wagner fills 25 chapters with practical advice on understanding the nonprofit sector and the role of the professional fundraiser; preparing to enter the profession through academic and practical training; finding a mentor; conducting a job search; negotiating a compensation package; working with a fundraising team; and pursuing excellence while maintaining a passion for fundraising.

One chapter presents a number of "career case studies," illustrating the many possible paths leading to and through a career as a fundraiser. Others discuss issues in diversity and international fundraising; personal qualities important to fundraising; and the employer's point of view. Each chapter is supplemented by a sidebar presenting the perspectives of a well-known expert, as well as briefer quotes by colleagues who have "been there" in a section called "Professionals say?" At the end of every chapter is also an extensive bibliography for further reading.

In these pages the budding fundraiser will discover nuggets of wisdom, answering some of those tough questions: Is fundraising looked upon as a true profession? What experiences can I bring from my "old" career? How can I avoid a "no-win" job, and choose one that would best suit my particular strengths? What is fundraising really like - and am I prepared for the pressures inherent to this frustrating, fascinating and rewarding profession?

This book is a must-have for anybody who is even thinking about becoming a professional fundraiser. It is also a terrific read for those who would like to learn more about the profession, about what fundraisers do and what makes them "tick." And here, possibly, Dr. Wagner performs her greatest service to the profession: in a voice that is clear, vibrant and unapologetically passionate about her vocation, she presents to the world a quiet testimony to the toughness, integrity and grace required to do it well.

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