Directed to volunteer and professional fundraisers alike, The Generosity Network is written from the dual perspective of a philanthropist, Jeffrey Walker, and a professional fundraiser, Jennifer McCrea. While most of the content is built on familiar industry relationship-based fundraising approaches, the book does lead into some new territory in the process.
Walker and McCrea begin with a focus on the distinction between transactional giving—what we might think of as day-to-day, hands-off philanthropy—and more thoughtful “transformative giving” built on careful connections and common goals. From both sides of a donation, the first half of the book acts as a self-help manual for developing meaningful gifts.
The authors focus on transformative giving as a central theme throughout the book, encouraging readers to mobilize personal values into action. Within that framework, both McCrea and Walker emphasize the benefits of community-based philanthropy and the viability of successful group structures.
Using this core concept as a filter, the second half of the book falls in line with a more deliberate description of how each step of the major gift development process is affected in operational terms. Some of the methods discussed won’t necessarily work for all donor personality types, particularly those who are not community oriented, and some parts of the book boil down widely known and accepted best practices. Still, even those who navigate the treacherous territory of asking major donors for money professionally will find some sections fresh and original. In particular, a chapter titled “The Ask,” and another on donor cultivation, called “The Jeffersonian Dinner,” allow Walker and McCrea to spin their years of experience into adaptable advice.
Whether reading The Generosity Network for personal edification, to get up to speed as a volunteer new to solicitation, or for advancement of a professional career, readers can expect a mostly effective mix of standard practices and new, sophisticated approaches to raising funds.