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Yours for the Asking: An Indispensable Guide to Fundraising and Management

ISBN: 978-0-470-24342-8
240 pages
September 2008
Yours for the Asking: An Indispensable Guide to Fundraising and Management (0470243422) cover image

Learn how to power up your fundraising-from Reynold Levy, the master of fundraising

Drawing on his experience in raising over one billion dollars in six years as President of Lincoln Center, Reynold Levy has written the ultimate insider's guide to asking for and receiving funds. Rich with insights and invaluable advice from Levy's own lessons learned, this powerful book is for you, whether your organization is concerned with health, education, the arts, or humanitarian causes, a think tank or advocacy group, established or fledgling. Insightful, creative, and humorous, Yours for the Asking draws back the curtain to disclose Levy's secrets of success and reveals how you can:
  • Tap into the resources of donors, large and small, for your institution or cause
  • Reach wealthy people and successfully bring home the bacon
  • Put aside fears, qualms, and hesitancies and confidently ask for funds
  • Locate the intersection between the interests of business and the needs of your nonprofit organization
  • Solve the mystery of fundraising from foundations
  • Explore your organization's future in fundraising and discern its long-term trends
  • Learn the best ways to combat the adverse impact of a wide, deep, and prolonged recession
Yours for the Asking will transform your view of fundraising from a dreaded aspect of your job to a high calling, from "pleading" for money to helping donors find pleasure in advancing social causes and strengthening key nonprofit institutions. Affluence and generosity abound. It's all yours-for the asking.
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About The Author.


Chapter 1. Fundraising: A Call To Alms, A Call To Action.

America's Charitable Potential.

Activating Philanthropy: The 92nd Street Y.

Galvanizing Giving: The International Rescue Committee.

Fundraising on Steroids: Lincoln Center.

A Call to Alms, A Call to Action.

Chapter 2. Soliciting Individual Prospects.

America's Astonishing Affluence.

Trustee Engagement and Support.

Volunteer Service: Beyond the Board.

Engaging Volunteers: A Management Priority.

A CEO's Modus Operandi.

Attitude and Temperament.

Overcoming Economic Bad News and Psychological Resistance.

To Ask: Popping the Question.

The Qualities of Excellent Fundraisers.

Ready, Set, Ask.

Chapter 3. Asking, Face To Face.

Appointment Secured: Now What?

Please And Thank You.

Donor Recognition: Here To Stay.

Merit Matters: The Formal Written Request.

The Lure of the Challenge Grant

The Generational Divide.

Confessions Of A CEO.

The Written Proposal: A Prize Winning Example.

Obstacles to Overcome.

Individual Donor Checklist: Some Vital Questions.

Chapter 4. The Institutional Donor: Corporations And Foundations.

The Corporation And The Small Business.

The Parlance of Corporate Aid.

Corporate Support Magnified.

Small Business, Large Impact.

The Corporation: Pathway To Affluent Donors.

Winning Business Support.

The Lincoln Center Experience.

Take A Walk, Read Widely.

The Foundation.

Chapter 5. Technique: Special Events and Direct Mail.

Special Events.

Direct Mail Fundraising.

Chapter 6. Tough Questions: Candid Answers.

Emerging Nonprofits: Newer, Smaller.

The Philanthropic Postmortem: Critiquing Performance.

Fundraising In Stormy Weather.

Fundraising: Who Is In Charge and When.

Fundraising Myths and Realities.

A CEO's Two Friends: The Watch and the List.

Four Hall Of Fame Fundraisers: My Nominees.

Donations that can Cost Too Much.

Chapter 7. A Passport to Successful Fundraising: Lessons of a Lifetime.

1. Diversify Funding Sources.

2. Diversify Funding Methods.

3. It's The Board Of Directors, Stupid.

4. Advice And Money: The Relationship.

5. Fundraising: Anytime, Anywhere, Any Season.

6. The Solicitor's Magic Words.

7. The Right Way To Ask.

8. Shoe Leather Trumps Mail.

9. No Is Not An Answer.

10. Baseball, Not A College Exam.

11. Fundraising As Apple Pie.

12. Fundraising Is A Team Effort.

13. Practice, Practice.

14. Philanthropy Is Biography.

15. Speed And Agility Matter.

16. The Corporate/Nonprofit Meeting Place.

17. The School Of Hard Knocks.

18. Early Money: The Best Kind.

19. Donors Crave Recognition.

20. Philanthropists Need Help.

21. Merit Matters.

22. Reputation: Hard To Acquire, Easy To Squander.

23. Communicate, Early and Often.

24. The Roles That Fundraisers Play.

25. Plan And Prepare.

26. Spread The Gospel.

27. Fundraising Is All About Tomorrow.

28. Leaving a Legacy.

Chapter 8. Humor And Fundraising.

The Relentlessness of Fundraisers.

The Elusiveness of Prospects.

Fundraising is Heavy Lifting.

The Imperative of Donor Recognition.

The Lore of Frank Bennack, Jr.

Politics Is Inexpensive.

Major Prospects Enjoy Healthy Egos.

Self-Deprecating Humor: It Wears Well.

A Classic: Many Variations On A Theme.

She Was One of a Kind: Beverly Sills—Part A.

She Was One Of A Kind: Beverly Sills—Part B.

She Was One Of A Kind: Beverly Sills—Part C.

An Excusable Lateness.

Introducing a Gala Honoree.

The Ask Reduced to its Essentials.

Intellectual Flight and an Empty Wall No More.

The Philanthropic Marine Corps.

Chapter 9. Fundraising: Dimensions Of The Future.

The Board of Directors Transformed.

Willie Sutton Goes Global.

Philanthropic Converts Turn Proselytizers.

Underperforming Businesses.

E-Philanthropy: Unrealized Potential.

Think Big: It's A New Millennium.

Chapter 10. Quotations That Matter.


Appendix I. Fundraising On Steroids: Lincoln Center.

Appendix II. Nonprofit Board of Directors Size: A National Sampler and Lincoln Center.

Appendix III. Governance at Lincoln Center 2007.

Appendix IV. Direct Mail Home Runs from the International Rescue Committee.



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Dr. Reynold Levy has been the President of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts since 2002. His leadership at Lincoln Center continues a distinguished career of public service in which he has served as president of the International Rescue Committee; senior officer of AT&T in charge of government relations; president of the AT&T Foundation; executive director of the 92nd Street Y; and staff director of the Task Force on the New York City Fiscal Crisis. He has published two books, Give and Take: A Candid Account of Corporate Philanthropy and Nearing the Crossroads: Contending Approaches to Contemporary American Foreign Policy. He writes and speaks widely about philanthropy, the performing arts, humanitarian causes and issues, and the leadership and management of nonprofit institutions. His most recent of many teaching affiliations has been as Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Business School.
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"Put simply, fundraising is nothing more than salesmanship. It's persuasiveness at work. It's a performing art." (Directors & Boards, Third Quarter 2009)

"Reynold Levy offers a straightforward, on-target approach to virtually every fundraising concern, including those experienced in tough economic times." (Arts Management, Jan-Feb 2009)

"Most fundraisers are uncomfortable asking for money, despite the fact that they are soliciting funds for worthy causes. However, author Reynold Levy makes the case that not only do individuals, corporations and foundations give money to organizations and causes they care about, they do so because they are asked. In addition, despite the current economic crisis, Americans continue to enjoy staggering wealth, and the wealthy can comfortably increase the amount they now give to charity without depriving themselves. All it takes is a disciplined and creative approach to soliciting those funds. This book shows you how." (CausePlanet.org; 11/08)

"Reynold Levy, could not have predicted the economic climate into which his new book would land. But "Yours for the Asking" now seems eerily prescient - particularly which chapters like "Fund-Raising in Stormy Weather" and "Overcoming Economic Bad News and Psychological Resistance". Regarding tough times, Mr. Levy asserts in the book that affluent people donate more from their assets than their income, leaving their contributions less vulnerable to a downturn." Moreover, worthy causes remain worthy, Mr. Levy said in an interview, no matter what the current state of world." (The New York Times; 11/11/08)

"Reynold Levy, a veteran fund raiser and former grant maker whose new book is called Yours for the Asking, argues that even in a troubled economy, a lot of people still have the resources to give generously…. His new guide seeks to reverse their discomfort and create an army of solicitors with the gumption to go after the stockpiles of money that Mr. Levy says are readily available." (The Chronicle of Philanthropy, November 27, 2008)

"The real value of Levy's work lies in his ability to demystify the process of fund-raising and his personal touch that will appeal to those seeking funding…" (Library Journal XpressReviews, 10/7/08)

“…I found Levy's stories, suggestions, tips, and philosophy completely applicable to any nonprofit, large or small, high flying or grassroots. What did I like most about Levy's book? It is hard to pick out just a few favorite parts, but I read with fascination about how a fabulous event was put together; welcomed Levy's thoughts about the worth of soliciting the small businesses that surround one's organization; and appreciated his thoughts about e-philanthropy.” (About.com, 9/19/08)

"Reynold Levy is a master at persuading people to give money – lots of money – to worthy causes. Now he shares his wisdom with us all – and at a bargain price!"
—Tom Brokaw

"Ren Levy has written the definitive handbook on fundraising. It should be required reading for boards of directors and senior staff of non profit organizations. The lessons learned from Ren’s broad experience are equally relevant to corporate executives as they endeavor to establish and strengthen customer relationships."
—Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO PepsiCo

"Ren Levy is the master of his trade. He can squeeze big dollars out of a stone and he tells here just how to do it. Anyone raising money for a good cause must read this book!"
—John C. Whitehead, Former Co-Chairman of Goldman Sachs and former Deputy Secretary of State

"I have raised money for a living for several decades. But I could not articulate better than Reynold Levy has done in Yours for the Asking the many secrets to successfully acquiring investors. If you wish to learn how to politely and effectively ask for contributions to a favorite organization or cause, you really need to purchase this highly readable, enjoyable and useful book."
—David Rubenstein, Co-founder and Managing Director, The Carlyle Group

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