Zen and the Art of Fundraising: 8 Pillars of Success, by Alexandra Pia Brovey, JD, LLM


Zen and the Art of Fundraising: 8 Pillars of Success

No matter your level of experience and expertise as a fundraising professional, you can become even more effective by taking to heart the 9 pillars of success shared with you by Alexandra Pia Brovey in this fast-reading but profound book.

Are you a successful fundraiser? Many of us believe we are. We have attended conferences and seminars over the years. We learned about the stages of getting a gift, best practices, and the latest marketing techniques.

Do these things make us successful? In Zen and the Art of Fundraising: 8 Pillars of Success, Alexandra Pia Brovey shows us that they go part way. She shows that to continue on the path to success, we must possess other traits or qualities, which she calls pillars. These 8 pillars can be honed and strengthened over time.

The 8 pillars include:

#1 Being in the Moment

#2 Listening

#3 Compassion

#4 Curiosity

#5 Humility

#6 Patience

#7 A Sense of Humor

#8 Being a Mentor

Zen and the Art of Fundraising guides us in exploring the pillars through a Zen filter. While most of us are expected to pursue more gifts and larger gifts over time, we need to take time to be in the moment – to appreciate each donor, each gift, and each interaction.

Being a good listener, having and showing compassion, being curious and humble, practicing patience, finding your sense of humor, and passing along your knowledge to others are all explored in this book in the context of fundraisers and fundraising.

The ultimate test is working with donors who make a gift, a larger gift, or a repeat gift. The pillars help fundraisers achieve success. They also make the journey an enjoyable and fulfilling one. Join Brovey and learn more about these 8 key pillars of success – in fundraising as well as life.

What Readers Are Saying

I could hardly put down this book. Through accessible descriptions of Buddhist principles, stories of donor meetings, and even interactions with her dog, Alex takes you, the layperson, planned giving officer, or general fundraiser, on a journey of both professional and personal enlightenment. — Claudine A. Donikian, JD, MBA - President/CEO of Pentera, Inc.


Whether you are a beginner fundraiser or a seasoned practitioner, you’re going to love this book. Packed with practical tips along with stories of how NOT to close a gift, it is the source of valuable wisdom from an exceptional gift planning veteran. — Margaret M. Holman - President, Holman Consulting, Inc.


This book will inspire you to kick over a few conventions and achieve real fundraising mastery. — Steven L. Meyers, PhD - Author of Personalized Philanthropy: Crash the Fundraising Matrix


In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind, there are few. That insight from Zen practice is a conundrum for gift planners, who are challenged to climb a mountain of technical detail that they can probably never summit. The most effective gift planners are deep experts AND perpetual beginners. They know that every encounter with a new person, or reunion with a familiar one, is full of possibility. Alex reminds us how to keep our beginner’s minds open, while our expert minds are doing math and remembering rules and regulations. — Barbara Yeager - Director of Operations, National Association of Charitable Gift Planners

About the Author

Alexandra Pia Brovey

Alexandra Pia Brovey, JD, LLM

Alexandra Pia Brovey has been a full-time fundraiser and charitable gift planner for almost two decades and an estate planning attorney for twenty-five years. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 1990 with a BA, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa; Georgetown University Law Center in 1993 with a JD; and University of Miami School of Law in 1995 with an LLM in Estate Planning.

After practicing law full-time for six years, Alex joined Penn State as a planned giving officer where she worked for five years, visiting with alumni and friends around the country. After relocating to New York, Alex worked as Senior Director, Planned and Major Gifts at Pace University and later as Senior Director, Planned Giving at Stony Brook Foundation, before joining Northwell Health Foundation in 2008 as Senior Director, Gift Planning. She currently leads a team that supports twenty-three hospitals, a world-renown research institute and a medical school in the greater New York City metropolitan area.

Alex is a leader in the gift planning community. She joined the Pittsburgh Planned Giving Council before cofounding the Central Pennsylvania Planned Giving Council and serving as Vice President. Upon relocating to New York, Alex joined the Philanthropic Planning Group of Greater New York, serving in a multitude of leadership roles, culminating in her current roles as President Emeritus and mentor. She is a member of the Charitable Estate Planning Council (Long Island, NY) and a member of the Nassau County (New York) Estate Planning Council.

At the national level, Alex served as a cotrustee of the Legal Advocacy Fund of the American Association of University Women, after serving as Vice President, Membership for the State College, Pennsylvania branch. She served as a board member and treasurer of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners and is currently serving a two-year term as chair of the Leadership Institute.

Alex enjoys speaking around the country on a variety of legal and philanthropic topics. She has had articles published in Trusts and Estates, Planned Giving Today, Charitable Gift Planning News, Fundraising Success Advisor, and the Journal of Gift Planning.

Alex earned a black belt in Shotokan karate in 2015. She is a proud Penn State Lifetime Alumni Association Member and serves as a career coach. Alex has interviewed prospective law students for Georgetown Law for over a decade. She coached junior soccer for five seasons, and enjoys visiting national parks, reading, and solving puzzles.