The remarkable thing about this book - to one who ploughs through a few of them - is that it is readable! Most books on any aspect of fundraising are prescriptive, bulleted to death, and lend themselves readily to Power Point presentations. Can I be more abusive of the genre than that?
Mr. Kaiser's book makes none of these mistakes. Instead he gives you a superb distillation of his experience in a neat package - up front. Busy managers and other important folk need read no further. They would be idiots if they did not since the bulk of the book is a series of "cases" - tales - about the experiences that led Mr. Kaiser to his list of essentials of charity management.
He calls it "turnaround". And I'm sure the principles apply very well to any turnarounds you might be planning. But the real reason for persisting with this book is that its applications are much broader than that.
It's a great guide for any ED struggling with his or her board - and there are many insights that you can relate to those struggles and principles you can adhere to that will serve you well.
It's a brilliant training tool for anyone who wants to teach fundraising in most of its varied aspects - how do you present the organization to prospective or past donors as a viable entity they should be thrilled to support? ("invest in" if you want the current parlance.) How do you identify and know these donors? How do you sustain relations with these donors? And how in the long term do you turn these donors into the bedrock of your charity?
Working through Mr. Kaiser's cases with students, and even practised fundraisers, would be a stirring way to energize, or re-energize, your fundraising staff.
What is missing in the book is the "answers" to questions like those I have proposed for the fundraisers in your stable. Mr. Kaiser spins a great yarn, but is short on analysis. He fails to show how he distilled his 10 rules from his experience, and that would be a fascinating path to follow. But this can be a plus or a minus depending on how you use the book; and of course depending on how astute you are.
Whether or not you intend to use the work in an applied way or just enjoy it as the very good read it is, I highly recommend it. Mr. Kaiser reveals his disasters as well as his successes and this makes for a very human narrative. And - have I mentioned this yet? - he is a superb writer, so you will be laughing (and wincing) as you learn.
Tess Samuel, Senior Development Officer, SickKids Foundation