Inspiring rants from the pen of the Pidge

Richard Radcliffe reviews How to Love Your Donors (To Death), the new tome by fundraising titan Stephen Pidgeon

Any book with death in the title always attracts my attention. As a legacy-giving specialist who meets many older donors every week, I also feel passionate about fundraising – or perhaps more accurately, about donor respect and communications.

This page book is pure Pidgeon penmanship. It oozes with very practical advice. It could even be perceived as having been written by a clever, informed donor rather than a direct marketing expert. And I love the fact that he writes as a donor might.

I also like the structure of the book: it's divided into fundraising focus, practical tips and rant. When you get as old as Stephen and me (with more than 60 years of fundraising experience between us), the unremitting urge to rant is difficult to control. And I am so glad he does not control his rants.

His inspiring words ignite interest. His practical tips are pure common sense. His use of English is perfect and just so wonderfully traditional (like many, but not all, donors). How many writers still use the word "super"?

No book of 120 pages can serve, inform and be totally applicable to the entire sector, but this one does set the parameters and golden rules for all great donor-loving. I would query many of his assumptions – especially about legacy giving - which border on presumptions. But that does not really matter. This is not a deep dive into strategy and tactics: it is a book to keep by the bedside to spur your dreams of doing your job brilliantly from the perspective of donors.

It is a book to dip into for a colourful gem when you are at your desk, frustrated by stupid bosses and comms departments. It is a pick-me-up by Pidgeon: a trigger, but not the silver bullet. Read, digest and challenge his views – then promise yourself to dig deeper.

How to Love Your Donors (To Death), by Stephen Pidgeon, published by the Directory of Social Change, £22.95

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