Nov 12, 2007

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea book coverIf your book club hasn't read this yet -- Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Relin -- it soon will. And if that makes you feel like part of a herd, don't fight it, particularly if you spend some of your time fundraising for a cause.

First off, the book will make you feel like all your suffering is small potatoes next to what Greg Mortenson has gone through in his efforts to build coed schools in forgotten rural regions of Pakistan. Stayed up late trying to meet a grant deadline? Try being jerked out of bed at 2 a.m. by an AK-47 toting Wazir who imprisons you for several days (with no explanation) and interrogates you before -- surprise! -- making a donation.

Not getting the response rate you'd like to your appeal letters? Mortenson started out (with no fundraising experience) hand typing hundreds of letters to every rich or famous person he could think of. Only after he'd been shown how to use a computer and sent out 580 letters did he get one response -- $100 from Tom Brokaw.

Or do you ever feel like no one's listening? Among the many fundraising slide shows Mortenson gave was one at a sports store where only two people showed up to listen -- but one of them made a $20,000 donation.

Beyond that, the book is just plain inspiring. It shows how someone with a deep commitment can make a difference in the face of absurd odds. But I'm sure your book club will talk about that!

And if you need some more practical inspiration for your nonprofit's fundraising efforts, check out the upcoming second edition of my book, Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits: Real-World Strategies That Work (Nolo).