Turning Donors into Partners: Principles for Fundraising You'll Actually Enjoy, By Brad Layland alt

Turning Donors into Partners

Principles for Fundraising You'll Actually Enjoy

by Brad Layland
Foreword by Tom Lin

Turning Donors into Partners
  • Length: 160 pages
  • Published: January 24, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0579
  • ISBN: 9781514005798

*affiliate partner

Fundraising can be one of the most stressful parts of ministry. Budget needs are daunting, prospects seem limited, and the cycle is unending. How do we get off of the treadmill of crisis-driven fundraising to more sustainable ministry funding?

Professional fundraiser Brad Layland revolutionizes fundraising and transforms it into a relational process where donors truly become partners in ministry. With decades of expertise in leading multimillion-dollar capital campaigns and working with major donors, he offers a more strategic and personalized yet less labor-intensive approach. Practical insights include ten essential elements of a case and four key steps that lead up to making an ask. Ultimately, fundraising is best done in community, and this book will help you develop a community of people who enjoy giving and want your organization to succeed.

Fundraising can become a life-giving, energizing experience of developing partners who fuel your ministry's vision. Discover how you can become fully funded and accomplish the work that God has given you to do.

"It's hard to find anyone in the Christian nonprofit world with more experience and wisdom than Brad Layland. Fortunately, he has chosen to not keep it to himself. Leveraging his years of experience and his keen understanding of the biblical approach to raising kingdom resources, Brad has provided us with a treasure trove of practical guidance and proven techniques. He has counseled thousands of development professionals and organizations in these principles. Now it is your turn. Study them, apply them, and watch God bring the increase."

R. Scott Rodin, fundraising professional and author of The Steward Leader

"Look elsewhere if you want a book about fundraising gambits and gimmicks. Brad Layland's Turning Donors into Partners is about cultivating generosity that flows from donors to organizations because of relational integrity between the one asking and the one responding."

Kenneth G. Elzinga, professor of economics at the University of Virginia

"Brad Layland offers practical steps and demystifies fundraising. Filled with concrete advice, case studies, and humor, his plan is perfect for both the new professional and seasoned executive. Readers will be encouraged and empowered, and the steps taken will result in significant transformation for the organization."

Kimberly Thornbury, senior program director with the Murdock Trust

"Our team at HOPE International has been privileged to work with Brad Layland to effectively engage our core supporters and do just what this book teaches: help grow donors into ministry partners. I'm grateful Brad has documented these powerful principles to be shared more broadly, drawing a road map for organizations to revamp and reenergize their approach to fundraising. Brad is a world-class leader, and in this book he generously provides practical, actionable, and applicable principles to actively care for supporters, raise more support, and see donors grow into partners and friends."

Peter Greer, president and CEO of HOPE International and author of Mission Drift

"Brad gets that fundraising is ministry like no one else I know. He truly loves the sacred hopes that God has placed in the hearts of donors and organizations alike, and he wants to help everyone in the fundraising relationship fulfill them. If any of that sounds like an 'I want' that's beating in your heart, you're holding the right book. And you're ready to join Brad on this journey of appreciating donors, serving each other, and becoming joy-filled partners on mission together."

Tom Lin, president and CEO of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, from the foreword

"In a world where people don't quite grasp the difference between fundraising and fund development, I do not think you can find someone who is better equipped to help with this topic. I love Brad's commitment to not having transactional relationships but to building authentic relationships in the context of community. This book will be a great help to many."

Wiley Scott III, group senior vice president of US East Young Life

"Brad has the amazing ability to bring together practical, applicable principles with thoughtful, people-focused counsel. I have never come away from a training with or reading by Brad where I have not learned something from him. Everything he writes is borne of experience, mistakes, and listening, and it builds on mission at the heart. I highly commend this book to you!"

Steve G. W. Moore, CEO and executive director of the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust

"The believers in Philippi partnered with Paul's ministry through financial giving, and it is clear from Paul's thank-you letter that it arose from a deep and joy-filled friendship between them. That is the biblical principle that weaves through Brad Layland's book. Brad shows, simply and clearly, how to turn the assumption that funding for Christian ministry is fundamentally relational into practical plans and respectful encounters. It might have been titled Turning Donors into Friends (or vice versa). Speaking from working with The FOCUS Group, I can simply say on behalf of Langham Partnership, 'It works!'"

Christopher J. H. Wright, Langham Partnership, author of The Shortfall: Owning the Challenge of Ministry Funding

"I'm excited about Brad Layland's new book Turning Donors into Partners, as it is timely for serious fundraising professionals. Donors aren't ATMs but are first and foremost friends, teammates, and partners. Brad's own development as a friend and partner-raiser is an exciting journey that will lift your hopes and vision sky high. Brad and his FOCUS Group have been friends and true partners with the incredible work of Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row, with life- and career-changing training provided to donor officers as well as completion of a $55 million capital campaign, allowing us to decentralize Skid Row services and regionalize them throughout LA County."

Andrew J. Bales, president and CEO of Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles

"Given the whirlwind of ideas and advice out there about nonprofit fundraising, with Turning Donors into Partners Brad Layland has now cleared the air. Centered around a single principle—know your donors and maintain relationships with them—Brad offers some of the most powerful, practical, and concisely written advice I have ever found on partnership development. In his own life work and now through successfully coaching others, including the organization I lead, Brad seems to live these principles almost effortlessly. He knows what he is talking about."

Doug Gehman, president of Globe International and author of Before You Quit

"I engaged The FOCUS Group for a highly successful capital campaign several years ago, and it is great to see how Brad Layland's substantial expertise translates to the written page. His perspective on donors as partners has helped transform our fundraising ethos, strategies, and practices at Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools—and our entire community is better for it!"

Dan Walker, executive director of Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools

"I have had the great pleasure of learning from Brad Layland and The FOCUS Group as I stepped into development with no experience. Layland's caring heart for those who give resonated with me and allowed me freedom to be authentic with partners, putting their needs above the money while still fully funding the work. Read this book and learn from one of the best, who has lived these experiences and teaches others from proven success."

Beth Greco, CEO and president of Hoving Home

"Overcoming the invisible barriers and perceptions of fundraising is so necessary in the nonprofit world. Brad's book does just this! With timeless principles, great stories, and practical tips, you will come away with great optimism, hope, and confidence. I have known Brad for the past ten years, and he has been instrumental with our organization in raising up more and more partners around our country."

David Thakkar, president of Young Life of Canada

"If you are ready for a fresh take on fundraising, then Turning Donors into Partners is the book you have been looking for. Filled with transformational insights and practical ideas, it is sure to become a resource you return to year after year."

Mandy Arioto, president and CEO of MOPS International

"As the fundraising industry continues to change, Brad Layland reminds us that relationships will always be at the center of any meaningful charitable endeavor. His relational wisdom and integrity are precisely what this industry needs to flourish. This book is a must-read for both executive leaders and development professionals!"

Eric Cook, president of the Society for Classical Learning

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Tom Lin

1. Doing It Differently: An Introduction to Taking Donors Seriously
2. Six Key Principles of Fundraising
3. The Taking Donors Seriously Framework
4. Practice 1: The Case Statement
5. Practice 2: Leadership
6. Practice 3: Prospects
7. Practice 4: Strategy
8. Practice 5: The Annual Plan
9. Culture: Earning the Right to Be Heard
10. The Ask: Getting Started
11. Being Fully Funded: Saying Yes



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Bradley Layland

Brad Layland is the CEO of The FOCUS Group, which provides fundraising counsel to nonprofit organizations in major donor development, strategic planning, and capital campaigns. He is also the founder and owner of Endless Summer Realty, the largest residential real estate brokerage in St. Augustine, Florida. Brad has a MA in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and has run fifty marathons and completed two Ironman triathlons. He and his wife, Dr. Wendy Layland, have four children.