Sunday, August 25, 2013

Publisher reveals all “How to ask for a major gift” books all written by the same frustrated fundraiser

The real author of every fundraising book you've ever read


The largest publisher of fundraising textbooks in the world has revealed that its nearly 350 titles on asking people for a donation were in fact written by the same frustrated fundraiser who turned to writing when he couldn’t make a living as a major gifts officer.

Big Invoice Books publishes some of the most popular fundraising books and guides in the US. Last year, it sold $50 million worth of books, webinars and conferences. But in a filing with federal authorities in a civil suit launched by an investor the publishing house revealed that almost all of its books about donations were written by Derek Snidely, 57, of Plano, Texas.

In the court papers, Snidely admitted he has written 327 books about how to ask people for donations in the last five years. All were written under pseudonyms and involved taking the same material and reformatting and refreshing it each time.

The papers say Snidely was a fundraiser for a number of hospitals in New York State, but gave up fundraising because he couldn’t make people give him money.

“I gave up on fundraising because people didn’t want to give me big donations. I was a total failure. But I found my calling as a writer. I just strung together all the old phrases and sayings my more successful colleagues used to say to me and turned that into my first book,” he said in the court papers.

The first book, The Art of Asking Rich People for Donations, was a runaway bestseller for Big Invoice when it was released in 1998. That’s when the publishers came up with the idea of duplicating the book using virtually the same content using a different author’s name. In the filings, Snidely says he went along with the scheme because he was broke, and no fundraising organization would hire him.

“We rewrote the book and turned it into 103 Ways to Make a Major Gifts Ask and we changed my name to Doris Peachtreel. It sold so well that the Publishers wanted to do it again. And then again and again. We kept it up because the books kept selling,” he said.

Snidely expressed regret that he led so many fundraisers astray with false, fabricated and unrealistic advice.

“It became part of me. I had to keep it going. It became my addiction. I’m sorry that I set up an entire generation of fundraisers to fail just as I did. I’m sorry,” he said.

A spokesman for Big Invoice admitted the scheme and said that company has disciplined those responsible. The company said its latest fundraising book, 104 Ways to Make a Major Gifts Ask, was in fact not written by Snidely, but by a failed fundraiser from Vermont instead.