Meet the Consultant Trying to Start a Fundraising Revolution

Photo: Courtesy of Jimmy LaRoseConsultant Jimmy LaRose is trying to start a fundraising revolution—one donor at a time.

In more than two decades of reporting and writing about fundraising, I can’t recall ever getting as many phone calls and comments, both pro and con—either spitting mad or full of praise—as I  did back in March, when I wrote a story about Jimmy’s forthcoming book.

At the time, all I had was a single chapter of Re-Imagining Philanthropy, in which Jimmy likened campaign feasibility studies to crack cocaine for consultants. (My phone didn’t stop ringing for days.)

Now, I’ve read the whole book, and it’s quite a manifesto. I’m convinced that, once again, Jimmy LaRose is going to rub more than a few fundraisers the wrong way. 

He’s punching holes in some long-held attitudes and practices of both fundraising consultants and nonprofit officials—and begging donors to take the lead in getting charities out of what he says is a terrible mess.

I was so intrigued by Jimmy’s ideas and the reaction he provoked that I paid good money to travel down to Melbourne, Florida, where he was holding a two-day conference for local charities along with a few of his colleagues. I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss is about. 

On the one hand, I found myself asking whether Jimmy planted certain people in the audience to rave about his fundraising approach in order to sell more products and services. In addition to his new book, in which I found some typos and grammatical errors, he has several businesses such as an online library of fundraising and other communications that nonprofits tailor to their own organizations.

On the other hand, I can’t disagree with a single thing Jimmy said at the conference or in his new book, available in bookstores on December 1. Some advance copies are available online at at a cost of $29.95 for hardback; $19.95 for digital or audio versions. Packages of five or 10 books may be ordered at reduced prices.

I hope you will join me for a series of posts about Jimmy LaRose’s against-the-grain fundraising prescriptions, including his argument that donors—not university students, hospital patients or needy families—must be a nonprofit’s No. 1 priority.

That will be my focus here tomorrow