Helping nonprofit organizations find the money they need to do the work they love has been my ministry since the late 1970’s. I came to California to attend Pacific School of Religion, intending to be an ordained Methodist minister. However, I soon realized that all organizations rise and fall on their ability to find money, and that, even though the vast majority of people give money to causes they believe in, very few people enjoy asking people to make donations to their cause.
I decided to go into fundraising and have been in this field for 37 years. A large part of my work has been writing down what works and what doesn’t in fundraising. I founded the Grassroots Fundraising Journal and was its publisher for 25 years, and I have written five books on fundraising as well as hundreds of articles. I have an entire series at Jossey Bass Publishers called “the Kim Klein Series” which includes my books, Fundraising for Social Change, Fundraising in Times of Crisis, Fundraising for the Long Haul, Ask and You Shall Receive, and Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times, as well as books from other authors. Nevertheless, I would say I have never had an original idea about fundraising—I have simply seen what others do and tried to make that knowledge available far and wide.
My favorite work is training and teaching. I teach a class at UC Berkeley in the School of Social Welfare, and I have taught at Dominican College, the University of Denver, Concordia University in Montreal, and one other time at Starr King. I believe that learning should be fun, interactive and intense. My courses are hands on and practical. Students leave with knowledge and experience they can apply in church settings or other nonprofits. I work almost entirely with nonprofits concerned about social justice, and I bring a social justice frame to my work. I have travelled extensively and have taught fundraising in every state and 31 countries. I believe organizations should have a philosophy of fundraising. They should answer the question, ‘What sources of funding will most help us fulfill our mission?’ Your sources of money are your sources of accountability. Who are you answerable to? Who rightly thinks they can influence the direction your organization goes in? There are organizations that should be entirely or mostly funded by government and those that should be entirely or mostly funded by corporations or foundations. Those organizations would be accountable to those entities. Organizations that work for justice for all people needed to be funded by those people.
I live in Berkeley with my long time partner in life and work, Stephanie Roth.