Book Review by the Guardian’s Robert Ashton

Reviewer: Robert Ashton – social entrepreneur and business author
Book Title: Seven Secrets of Successful Fundraising Amal Abdalhakim-Douglas
ISBN: 978-0-9535993-4-9

Like most authors, I read a lot of books. It stretches my thinking and encourages my writing style to evolve. Like most social entrepreneurs, I can be crushingly critical of ‘one size fits all’ solutions, especially when applied to challenges as huge as fundraising. So when even a time served fundraiser sends me a book promising to reveal ‘seven secrets’ sharpen my pencil and prepare to be cruel.
Which only goes to prove how wrong I can be; this book is 80 pages of the common sense we all too often overlook in our quest for complexity. Too short for flannel or author self aggrandisement, you soon realise that you’re reading the words of a modest and very human man.
Wisely in my view, the book starts with the reader. Are you a Reflector, Theorist, Pragmatist or Activist? By page 20 you know what you are and understand, or perhaps are reminded that what you well is what you can do well and the rest is best shared. In other words, fundraising is like surgery, likely to be botched if you try to do it alone and successful if anaesthetist, surgeon and nursing team combine their respective skills.
And then, prepared or perhaps pre-warned, you discover what is in effect a compendium of answers to the questions you’ll almost inevitably ask yourself on any foray into fundraising. Clear, explicit and confidence boosting, the book says it like it is, as you’ve probably already found it and as inevitably you’ll find it again very soon.
And there are some things here we’ve all seen before and that is actually very reassuring. The million pound appeal pyramid is always worthy of revisiting. It’s something that I’ve found to my cost to be annoyingly accurate.
My only criticism is of the publishing world. This book is proof that the big guy can be too cautious leaving a gem to be marketed by someone smaller and braver. I’m going to keep my copy near my desk. I suggest you do the same.

Robert Ashton is a social entrepreneur and best selling business author and a regular Guardian contributor.
The book is available through Black Stone Press or Amazon

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